With each passing day, science is coming up with innovations and complicated medical procedures that are saving people from deadly diseases. Take “keyhole” surgery for an instance that allows medical surgeons to carry out operations through tiny incisions in the abdomen and chest. Or, “tooth in eye” surgery where a patient’s eyesight can be restored by using a tooth. These advanced medical technologies have lessened the pain of people suffering from a physical deformity, prolonged illness or temporary disease.
However, medicines were extremely basic, crude, and often painful in the medieval period. It wasn’t a pleasant time to be a patient since the remedies were bizarre and horrifying. But people didn’t have much of choice about seeking medical assistance when they were at life’s mercy. With this, let’s take a look at the grossest and unusual medicines from the past.
1. Dead Mouse Paste for Toothaches
In ancient Egypt, rodents were considered to be the best cure for toothaches and earaches. Since tooth pain was a common ailment in Egypt due to the prevalence of sand in their food, people decided that dead and often festering mice can prove to be an effective remedy. The dead mouse was mashed and blended with other ingredients, and then the paste would be applied to the painful area. And it was just not the Egyptians who believed in mouse cure, but people in Elizabethan England did too. To treat warts, they used to cut a mouse in half and apply it to the offending spot. Mice were also used to treat a cough, small-pox, measles, and bed-wetting. However, these remedies can’t have worked in curing such ailments and most likely caused more problems.
2. Human Corpses to Cure Various Ailments
In the medieval period, physicians prescribed dried and powdered skull to treat headaches, apoplexy, and epilepsy. People also used to rub rendered human fat on arthritic joints. Egyptians created mummies from the dead and used their powder as medicines. Romans used to drank the blood and ate the organs of the freshly dead gladiators, as it was believed that the soul of the person would be transferred to the patient. Usnea, a moss that grows in graveyards was added to powdered mummies, ground skull, and jars of Axung Hominis (a name for human fat) and used to cure various ailments. Usnea helped boost a patient’s immune, but it is unlikely that consuming human cadavers would have helped anyone.
3. Human Urine as a Wound Cleaner
The medical benefits of urine have been widely studied in many areas, but the medical community has not made many significant statements on its medicinal uses. However, in ancient time, urine was considered a far safer cleaning agent that the kind of water was available. While fresh urine was used for the treatment of wounds, ulcers, sores, burns, chaps, and scorpion stings, stale urine mixed with ash was rubbed on the baby to cure the nappy rash. On the battlefield, the soldiers used to readily urinate on each other’s wounds to clean them and avoid becoming gangrenous.
4. Powder of Sympathy to Treat Rapier Wounds
“Powder of Sympathy” seems like a form of sympathetic medicine made of herbs that could heal wounds and treat diseases. However, it comprised of earthworms, pigs' brains, iron oxide (rust), and bits of mummified corpses ground into a powder. Prevalent in the 17th century in Europe, this remedy was not only applied to the wound but to the weapon as well in the hope of healing the injury it has caused. This method was developed by Sir Kenelm Digby who claimed to have treated his secretary of a gangrenous wound by soaking the bloody bandage in a solution of the powder.
5. Transplantation of Goat Testicles into Men to Cure Sexual Problems
In 1920s America, a weird medical trend emerged which proved a popular cure for erectile dysfunction, aging, and other sexual problems. Originated by John R. Brinkley, this trend was known as xenotransplantation, the transplantation of monkey (and goat) testicles into men to restore sexual virility. Needless to say, implanting an animal testicle inside of a guy's scrotum is something that's likely to cause more problems than it solves. The surgeries he conducted led to many deaths and ultimately involved him in several lawsuits.
All these medical remedies and treatments sound horrifying and purely absurd. However, people had to use them because they didn’t have many options back then. We all should feel fortunate that we are born in the era where medical science has made phenomenal progress. For more such information, stay tuned to our blog section!
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