7 Fiendish Medical Treatments That Mostly Just Made Things Worse

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Trivial Diversions

7 Fiendish Medical Treatments That Mostly Just Made Things Worse

7 Fiendish Medical Treatments That Mostly Just Made Things Worse

As with most people, I long to visit the past and wonder through legendary historical events and times. God forbid I go back too far and fall down, medical treatment used to be a lot more, let’s say, experimental. In a time before antiseptics and band-aids, most patients were sent away with a jar of leeches or something else equally icky.

Dead Mouse Paste (Ancient Egypt)

Dead mouse anything sounds awful but “paste” seems especially troubling, but curative properties were pretty nil for Ancient Egyptians. Ground up mouse was often used to soothe tooth/mouth pain. As it turns out, using dead mice as Macgyver-Orajel technique wasn’t solely an Ancient Egyptian thing. In earlier centuries, the British would cut dead mice in half and place one of the halves on the offending area.

Also, if you Google “mouse paste” the internet will think you don’t know how to use the cut and paste function with your mouse.

medical egypt

Curing A Stutter By Removing the Problem

Throughout the 18th century, and part of the 19th, people who suffered from stuttering probably actively avoided any kind of medical professional. Why? Well, it appears physicians took the most direct approach as possible and sought to remove what they thought was the problem, the tongue. Surprising absolutely no one, this procedure often didn’t work the person would never speak again or they would bleed to death.

The procedure is called a glossectomy and is still used today in cancer patients.


Powder of Sympathy

Okay, we’ve had mouse paste and tongue removal, powder doesn’t sound too bad. This practice was used to mend wounds caused by rapiers (very thin swords). The powder was made of earthworms, pig’s brains, rust, and mummified corpse pieces.

The strangest thing about this practice is that the powder is applied to the weapon that caused the wound, instead of the wound itself.


Vin Mariani (Italy)

Picture it, Italy 1863, a young chemist named Angelo Mariani creates a healing tonic that consists of red wine and cocoa leaves. He claimed 8,000 doctors approved of his tonic and it was given to men, women, and children alike. Okay, so what’s the big deal? Well, cocoa leaves contain cocaine so that mixed with red wine wasn’t exactly a healing tonic. It was an “if I drink this I won’t care about anything anymore” tonic. Of course, that didn’t stop Thomas Edison, and Queen Victoria from self-medicating.

The tonic inspired a young entrepreneur named John S. Pemberton to create the Coke-a-cola soft drink.

vin marani

Tiger Phallus Soup

In several areas on the continent of Asia, groups of people consume different parts of animals in hopes to obtain the power from it. For instance, it’s said you can increase a man’s virility by feeding him tiger phallus soup, made from dried tiger phallus. Because tigers are at dangerously low numbers in Asia they are protected, but poachers still do illegal hunts from time to time.



This practice can be traced back through the ages and is even practiced by some tribes today. Trepanation is the technical term for drilling holes into the skull to alleviate headaches, psychosis, etc. Trepanation was the precursor to the lobotomy technique that would continue well on into the 1960s.


Corpse Medicine (Ancient Rome)

Much like with tiger phallus soup, the Romans thought they could gain power from ingesting certain things. It was said that the blood of a dead gladiator could cure epilepsy. Even into the 17th century, King Charles II mixed his own cocktail of alcohol and crushed human skull.

Etching showing Roman gladiators vanquis


Related topics ancient civilizations, ancient Egypt, medical history, medical procedures
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