Weird History

The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)  

Robert Wabash
3.2k votes 771 voters 248.2k views 13 items

List Rules Vote up the things you can't believe were once used as medicine in America.

A doctor is supposed to be filled with endless amounts of knowledge. We trust them with our health, even with our lives, to be on the cutting edge of the latest treatments and cures for us, but do they really know best? This list is compiled of things doctors used to prescribe to patients as "go-to cures." Things such as heroin, soda, and sex toys. Next time you go to the doctor, ask them if you can have a beer and line of cocaine for your migraine... it worked in the 1920s.

What the craziest things ever used as medication? These odd items will be sure to pique your interest and should be pretty surprising.
Trepanation is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo: Luciana Christante/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Much like a lobotomy, trepanation was a treatment for seizures and migraines. Doctors thought that if you had mental issues, physical or emotional, you probably needed a couple of holes in your head.

The doctor would lay you down and take a contraption with three drills, place it on your head (side, front, back, it didn't really matter) and drill. This practice went on for a very long time, even though people had no relief from their aliments.

That looks like it would take away anyone's headache, I can't imagine why this didn't work.

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Soothing Syrup
Soothing Syrup is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo: Boston Public Library/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

This product is the single most amazing product that I found in my research. It was said to be an "indispensable aid to mothers and child-care workers." This little concoction was considered a medicinal product invented by Mrs. Charlotte N. Winslow and first marketed by her son-in-law, Jeremiah Curtis and Benjamin A. Perkins in Bangor, Maine, in 1849.

They marketed this product in recipe books, women's magazines, anywhere they could get mothers to see it. It claimed to cure everything. Toothache, stomach ache, colic, you name it, and this "soothing syrup" fixed it.

Want to know what was in this amazing syrup? Well, one grain (65 mg) of morphine per fluid ounce, cannabis, heroin, powdered opium, which are the active ingredients to put your little one to sleep. It also had sodium carbonate, spirits foeniculi, and aqua ammonia in it, because....why not?

The product was removed from the market in 1938, that's 89 years of service.

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Urine is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo:  markusspiske/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Urine is considered a viable medical treatment in several countries. According to, the therapy is based on the belief that urine is a by-product of blood filtration. Blood filled with nutrients passes through the liver and toxins are excreted through solid waste. Purified blood travels to the kidneys, where extra nutrients are eliminated from the body. Urine consists of urea, which is an anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral agent.

Urine therapy is believed to treat a number of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, and eczema. That means instead of prescription lotion to rub on your dry skin, you can just dab some urine on it.

So say goodbye to all of those long hours waiting at the pharmacy and paying enormous amounts of money to insurance companies. This is a homegrown therapy where you take your pharmacy (bladder) with you. But you may still be forced to wait in a few lines when it comes to refills.

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Ketchup is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo:  Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Back in the 1830s, there was something called Dr. Miles Compound Extract of Tomato. It was used to treat indigestion, diarrhea, liver disease, and as a cholera preventive.

It's also really great on a hot dog, as it turns out. Dr. Miles Compound Extract of Tomato is just a fancy way of saying ketchup.

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