12 Of The Most Bizarre Medical Practices From History

Bizarre medical practices are not uncommon…. You should see some of the things they did back in the 19th century.

Anyways, a lot of the mishaps they had back then have led to some of the advancements we have today.

Check out these 12 crazy medical practices below, some of which are still being used today. Yeah, seriously!

1. Blood Letting


An ancient system of medicine in which blood and bodily fluids were known as “humors”. These humors needed to be in proper balance, so blood was intentionally drained from patients to balance everything else. It’s regarded as one of the most common medical practices before the 19th century.

“Bleeding” in order to restore health was modeled after menstruation which Hippocrates believed functioned to “purge women of bad humors”.

2. Maggot Therapy


Maggots are inserted into open wounds to clean them and there is actual evidence that maggot therapy helps with healing a wound (unlike other bizarre practices that lack evidence).

It’s been shown that maggot therapy can stimulate healing by their ability to precisely consume necrotic tissue than any surgical instrument could. This is another practice that is still going on today.

3. Mercury Medicine


Once used to treat wounds…. until we found out how toxic it was. It was used to treat various diseases such as syphilis and typhoid fever, and parasites.

4. Leeching


Leeches have been used in medicine since the dawn of civilization. They’re versatile in their uses as well which range from treating nervous system abnormalities, dental problems, skin diseases and a variety of infections.

Leeches are an excellent way to get rid of blood clots and is a continuously widely accepted practice. (healthline)

5. Fecal Bacteriotherapy


This one is actually still used 85% to 90% of the time in treating Clostridium difficile infection. Basically, they inject someone else’s poop up your (ya know)… Sounds disgusting, but it actually realigns the healthy bacteria in the colon. (Wikipedia)

6. DDT Delousing


Spraying people’s heads with DDT was actually an effective way to kill lice. DDT is a powerful synthetic pesticide that people once thought was harmless unless ingested. It was sprayed directly on people, clothing and bedding — sometimes even over entire cities. (Whale)

7. Heliotherapy


These children are being treated for tuberculosis by having them stand around a strong lamp. The theory was that the lamp would increase their Vitamin D, which helped them fight the bacteria.

It all goes back to Greek mythology believing Helios, the god of the son, had healing power. Hippocrates was an advocate of the Sun’s healing power. (sciencemuseum)

8. Pedicle Grafts


This may look as though it came out of a horror movie, but it didn’t. This is the way doctors were able to treat disfigured soldiers.

Here you see a WWI veteran who was injured and had part of his skin sewn into a tube and temporarily placed on his nose as reconstructive treatment. This procedure led to what we know today as modern skin grafting. (listupon)

9. Radiation Injection


In the 1960’s, doctors in Maryland experimented with treating severe acne with radiation…… yep.

It gets weirder, numerous radiation experiments have been conducted on humans which include radiating the heads of children, feeding radioactive material to mentally disabled children, exposing U.S. soldiers and prisoners to high levels of radiation, and the list goes on… (Wikipedia)

10. Net Suspension


Man being treated for scoliosis. Doctors thought this contraption would help straighten out someones back.

Lewis Albert Sayre pioneered this procedure believing that this could correct any spinal distortions. However, this didn’t come without heavy criticism which ultimately led to to it’s demise. (Wikipedia)

11. Malaria


Fevers were thought to kill syphilis, so doctors of old would often infect their patients with malaria. Many patients then died because Malaria… go figure.

12. Trepanning

Where a doctor would drill a giant hole in the patient’s head to try to cure epilepsy and other mental disorders. Evidence of trepanation has been found in prehistoric human remains from Neolithic times. Almost makes you glad that you were born in a time where medicine has progressed so well.

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Photo credits: unknown unless noted

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