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10 Ancient Scary Medical Treatments that Should Stay in History


Toothache was treated with smoking goat fat or catching a toad at midnight.



During the ancient times, they already practiced dental fillings and prostheses. A human tooth found in Italy shows signs of dental work, determined to be approximately 14,000 years old. But their methods were quite unusual. Avicenna recommended a dental treatment of smoking a burning mixture of goat fat, henbane, and onion. To get rid of toothache, Pliny the Elder recommended catching a toad at midnight, then the patient should spit in its mouth, and say special “curing” words.

Mothers delivered babies standing or sitting.



They used juniper and mandrake extracts as anesthesia.



It is really hard to say how effective the extracts were. But in ancient Mesopotamia, doctors used alcohol and opium to help patients feel no pain. In ancient Egypt, they prepared extracts from mandrake fruits. In India and China, juniper, cannabis, and aconite were used as anesthetic agents.

Chronic diseases were treated with holy water and physical exercise.



Hippocrates (460-370 BC) believed that epilepsy was caused by God’s will, and that the reasons for this disease were wind, cold, and sun. People with epilepsy were believed to be possessed by demons and were treated with prayers and holy water.

Ancient doctors treated diabetes with physical exercises and healing herbs, which didn’t bring positive results. The patients usually died. Skin diseases, like psoriasis, were considered incurable. Patients had to wear a bell as a warning to others to stay away.

Almost all diseases were treated with bloodletting.



Bloodletting was very popular in ancient times. They believed that blood contained “bad humors” that had to be let out to cure the patient. Often barbers took care of bloodletting. Even George Washington had his tonsillitis cured this way, although he died afterward.

They used snake venom and poisonous herbs.



They tried to fight infections with poisonous herbs and viper venoms. Doctors added dried snakes and scorpions to their potions. Modern scientists said that the reasons for their antibacterial actions were small proteins called disintegrins. Ancient Egyptians used cannabis, opium, and henbane.

They practiced skull trephination or making a hole in the skull.



To cure severe headaches, epilepsy, and other psychological disorders, doctors drilled holes in their patient’s skull, which is the oldest surgical operation. This is one of the most popular methods used even until the Renaissance era.

A tobacco smoke enema or blowing up smoke into the rectum was a very popular treatment.


To cure indigestion problems, somnolence, stomach cramps, and parasites, patients were treated with a tobacco smoke enema. Yes, that’s blowing smoke up the patient’s ass.


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