There is nothing more bracing than major surgery performed with a hacksaw without anaesthetic.
Medicine has always been a bit of a hit-and-miss practice. Even today, with our super computers and medical scientists, we still get all muddled up and accidentally replace limbs and organs with gardening equipment and cutlery.
Grand Theft Auto: Ye Olde London Town proved quite popular.
Making people feel a bit better is not yet an exact science, but there has to be a limit to what is making you feel right as rain and what is, in fact, slowly killing you from the inside. This article will explore some of the more surreal and outlandish cures for all sorts of ailments. Chances are you won’t find any of these in a medical journal, but remember – what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger… unless you’ve just given yourself a urine enema.
They didn’t call him Neil Diamond for nothing.
How do you like to blow off steam? A glass of wine and a spot of television sounds good, but in the Middle Ages medical science was more focused on taking things out of the body as opposed to putting things in. Removing demons and evil spirits was one of those things, and the only logical way to do this was to drill a hole though your skull and let your brain breath a bit.
You can even do it yourself with this handy guide.
Trepanning was hugely popular for many centuries (it is believed to have started in Neolithic times) and still continues to this day, albeit in a much more sterile and less terrifying form. The procedure did relieve pressure on the brain, and was used to cure all manner of head-related ailments. Next time you have a headache, you may want to consider it as a way to avoid costly paracetamol bills.
That looks much better… better see a real doctor about those lacerations though.
Ever treated a back ache by creating a vacuum inside a cup, pressing it on the skin and waiting for it to draw blood? No we haven’t either, but it’s all the rage in Palestine; guess they don’t have massage chairs over there.
Just stop when I look like something out of Alien.
Hujama is said to treat practically everything… which is handy… by absorbing pain and decaying blood from around the infected area. The treatment is said to have been first used around 2200 B.C. and is still being used today. A hugely tame version of this treatment is currently in vogue within the ranks of the Hollywood elite.
That’s quite a gush you have there, Doug.
Ah, how wonderful it must have been to be a medical charlatan in the early days of health care. Most problems could be cured by draining yourself of blood; that is unless it was a really serious problem, and then they’d drill holes in your skull.
Margaret’s fake eyebrows made a break for it.
Like trepanning, bloodletting was a fairly rudimentary cure for practically everything. While this may all sound fairly silly nowadays, it was considered good science for a good length of time. The idea came about in order to redress the balance of fluids within the body. If sticking knives in your arms and gushing into a bucket wasn’t your cup of tea, you could have the blood sucked out with the help of nature’s very own slimy vampires – leeches. It was a wonderful time to be alive, clearly.
4. Frog Juice
What goes from green to red in two seconds? You.
Sometimes men need a little help… down there. There’s no shame in it – men have a lot on their plate at any one time. Sometimes it’s difficult to relax, especially with the pressures of work, the troubled economy and that uppity neighbour of yours, who keeps dumping his mixed glass recycling on your lawn – “The hedge line is the boarder buddy; don’t make me get the housing agreement from the council.” Never mind, just sit back with a frog smoothie from Peru, and it’ll all be OK. Wait… what?
That’s right. The industrious Peruvians insist that Puree de Kermit, or Extracto de rana, as they like to call it, is a great cure for impotency. It also works wonders for most respiratory diseases. As far as we are aware, the frogs don’t think too much of it.
3. The Lobotomy
We all go through moody stages. Most of them occur during our rebellious teenage years, when we all ride skateboards, wear tie-dye t-shirts and watch MTV for 32 hours a day. Ah, to be young again… Many of us would call this regular behaviour for a teen; however, these shenanigans would not have been tolerated in the crew-cut age of 1950s America. No sir!
The Lobotomy was developed by António Egas Moniz (who later won a Nobel Prize for his work) and involved severing the brain’s connection to the prefrontal cortex. The procedure often left patients utterly dependant on other people to look after them, as they were unable to function in the real world. Worryingly, the procedure became so widespread that it was being carried out without proper diagnosis. Best keep those emotions locked up tight unless you want a psycho wiggling his ice-picks inside your eye sockets (we’re not kidding).
2. Urine Treatment
Sigh… Unfortunately, urine treatment is not as simple as just drinking your own apple juice – that sounds far too easy. Although that practice is still somehow widespread, bathing in and drinking urine has no medical benefits whatsoever. Websites advertising the treatment claim it can cure cancers and some skin conditions. While that can’t be verified, we can confirm that it does make you smell bad… which is fundamentally useless.
Sadly, some people want to take things one step further, which is coincidentally one step too far in our book – the urine enema. Yes, if it wasn’t bad enough that you’ve just sipped your own nectar, apparently there are those who feel jamming a tube up their bum and washing their guttering out with… I’m going to stop there. Least to say, it does very little apart from making you feel quite ashamed of yourself.
1. Dead Baby Pills
Note: these are not Tic-Tacs.
Asian medicine often throws moral curve balls at The West. The Chinese pharmaceutical journal can often look like a WWF endangered species list, but the discovery of pills made from the ground up remains of dead babies shocked the entire world. The pill was claimed to be a cure-all remedy, but unsurprisingly turned out to be extremely harmful if consumed.
A huge quantity of the pills was stopped at a Korean airport, which brought the medication to light. The pill, which is said to be made up of 99.7% human remains, is not the only medication made from dead baby’s, as microwave-dried placenta is also in huge demand in the area. Leeches don’t seem so bad now.
I hope you can all reflect on how lucky we are to have come so far with regards to medical science. As much fun as trepanning sounds, I can’t imagine there would still be as long a wait as there is today if medical implements looked so uncannily like whaling tools.
It wasn’t all bad though. One eighteenth-century cure for female hysteria involved a trip to the doctor for clitoral stimulation and subsequent orgasm. This was an ongoing treatment and patients could be referred to specialists once a week for further consultation. Quite.