It’s that time of year again, Sick season. The time of the year when we all collectively reach for tissues and anything that will make the coughing/drowsiness/itchy eyes/running noses/headache/temperature GO AWAY. In honor of this gut wrenching (for some) time of the year I have composed some of history’s weirdest, most ineffective medicines that makes me thankful for aspirin.
- Mummies: For a (long) period in Europe ground up mummies (as in well preserved DEAD PEOPLE) was considered to be the holy grail of all medicines. Really. Used for everything from the common cold to broken bones, ground up dead people was the go-to medicine for the Upper class. The demand go so high at one point, that the mummy merchants decided to forgo the acquiring of actual mummies and just grinding up the corpses of random people. Yay?
- Mercury: Like mummies, Mercury has enjoyed a long history of being an awesome medicinal cure for just about anything but was most well known for being a birth control or a cure for syphilis. This is despite the fact that it’s always been known that Mercury makes you batshit crazy. But, people have never let something little like paralysis, going completely crackers, and death get in the way of a supposed cure.
- Dressing in the skin of a Donkey: In Tudor England, a common cure for Rheumatism was to have the suffer dress in the skin of a donkey. While it’s unlikely that this in anyway helped the sufferer, it at least caused a laugh for his/hers friends and family.
- Grease of a Fox: Also from Tudor England (apparently a time period filled with hilarious medical remedies) the grease of a fox was often considered to be the best way to get rid of baldness. While it was most likely to be fox fat grease, I prefer to image a much more precious image. One where Tudor English men rub a confused fox on each others head in the hope that the grease from the fur will come off.
- Heroin: For a dark and probably twitchy time in the 19th century Bayers (as in Bayers Aspirin) marketed Heroin as the number one cough medicine.
- Molted Gold: During the peak of the Black Death during the Middle Ages molted gold was supposed to be one of the best cures for the disease. It’s unknown if its because the drinker instead died from drinking LIQUID METAL.
- Tarantela: Now known as a charming folk dance from Spain and Italy, at one time it was a cure for poisonous spider bites. The wild, rapid movements where thought to work the venom out of the victim’s veins.
- Manual sex: Victorian medicine was a funny, funny thing. One the one hand, masturbation was considered dangerous for both boys and girls. Yet at the same time, it was considered to be hopeful, even a good trait, that when a woman had an orgasm during a pelvic exam. It got to the point when women with so called “nervous dispositions” were sent to the doctor to get fingered as a way to calm down.
- Hole in the Head: A Medieval headache cure was cutting a hole into the head DOWN TO THE BRAIN TISSUE of a patient to release evil spirits and/or the pressure that was supposedly causing pain. Seriously. Just imagine some guy going all Saw on your head. The most remarkable thing about this is that people would survive.