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

Robert Wabash
1.4k votes 366 voters 224.9k 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.
1 222 VOTES

Soothing Syrup

Soothing Syrup is listed (or ranked) 1 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.

147 75
Is this unbelievable?
2 143 VOTES


Trepanation is listed (or ranked) 2 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.

94 49
Is this unbelievable?
3 164 VOTES


Vibrators is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo: James Cridland/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

Girls have mood swings, it happens (at least once a month). This used to be called "female hysteria," and someone came up with the perfect cure...

It started as a "medical procedure" where women would go to the doctor complaining of mood swings, cramps, or emotions of any kind, and the doctor would digitally stimulate her to alleviate these symptoms. But apparently, this got to be a problem for the doctors – women would come in and complain of anything, headache, anxiety, etc. Basically, these women were PMSing everyday in order to receive this treatment. Doctors became so overrun with patients claiming to have "female hysteria" that the majority of their time was spent with their hands up ladies petticoats.

So, one bright chap got an idea... what if these women could stimulate themselves at home with a "medical tool," and thus, the invention of the vibrator.

This way you could treat yourself at home without endless visits to the doctor. You can cure all your ailments with this simple little tool. Now you can cut your horseback riding in half! Doctors used to tell women to go ride a horse, until they came up with the first sybian machine.

See, masturbation can be fun and medicinal!
105 59
Is this unbelievable?
4 107 VOTES

Cocaine and Heroin

Cocaine and Heroin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 13 Craziest Things Ever Used As Medicine (In America)
Photo: Curtis Gregory Perry/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cocaine has been sold as a stimulate, pain reliever, tonic, and cure all for centuries. Got a toothache? Do a bump of cocaine.

Cocaine was also the main ingredient in several other "medicines" on this list. It was found in Coca-cola (hence the name) and in Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup.

Much like cocaine, heroin was also a big seller for pain relief. The famous aspirin company Bayer got its start from advertising heroin as a cough suppressant for kids. When they saw that heroin not only stopped kids from coughing but also relieved headaches, they moved into aspirin.

67 40
Is this unbelievable?