19 Bizarre Medical Practices From History That Sound Made Up – But Aren't

List Rules
Vote up the medical practices that you can't believe were real.

Modern medicine has seen more development in the past 50 years than in all of human history combined. Many long-practiced medical treatments now seem completely bizarre in retrospect - things like putting animal dung on a wound, drinking urine, carving holes in your skull, or drinking medicinal potions made of morphine or mercury. But which practices are considered the most peculiar from all of human medical history? Which practices were once used as medicinal treatments only to be later found incredibly dangerous?

In truth, there were numerous odd things used as medicine before the advent of modern science. However, some of these practices continue to be used today in one form or another. This just proves that sometimes, no matter how untoward, abnormal or perplexing they truly are, if something works, doctors are going to keep doing it.

On this list are some of the dangerous, unconventional, and questionable historical medical practices from around the world. Many of them may sound unbelievable, but they have been proven to have existed.


  • 1
    4,249 VOTES

    Ancient Dentists Used Dead Mice To Treat Multiple Ailments

    Dead mice were used for medicinal purposes in Ancient Egypt. Egyptians would blend the remains of the mice with other compounds to ease toothache pain.

    Later, the English in the time of Elizabeth I cured their warts by cutting a mouse in half and applying it to the spots. Bits of expired mice were also used to treat whooping cough, smallpox, measles, and bed-wetting – all to varying degrees of success.

  • 2
    4,316 VOTES

    Doctors In The 1950s Used Malaria Infections To Cure Syphilis

    A common 1950s medical practice involved intentionally infecting syphilis patients with malaria. The theory was that the fever produced by the malaria virus would kill off the syphilis disease and that the malaria virus would then be cleared up through some other treatment.

    In reality, although the injected malaria virus had positive results in eliminating the syphilis virus, it caused intense fever attacks for weeks and longstanding side effects that spanned decades.

  • 3
    3,757 VOTES

    Medieval Doctors Swore A Hot Poker Could Cure Hemorrhoids

    Virtually everything has a patron saint - even painful hemorrhoids. It was once believed that if a person did not pray to the canonized Irish monk St. Fiacre, who was said to protect one from such maladies, that they would suffer from hemorrhoids. If a person chose not to pray to St. Fiacre and came down with hemorrhoids, they were sent off to the monks who would put a red-hot iron on them. Alternatively, the patient could sit on St. Fiacre’s famous rock, the spot where the seventh-century monk was miraculously cured of his own hemorrhoids.

    Later treatments were far less painful and more effective, like soaking in a hot bath.

  • 4
    3,270 VOTES

    19th-Century Doctors Used Paraffin Wax Injections For Early Plastic Surgery

    An early version of Botox, 19th-century doctors used paraffin wax injections to smooth out wrinkles and in breast augmentation procedures. But wax hardens, and in this case, it hardened into thick, painful lumps known as paraffinomas.

    These injections were quickly abandoned once it became widely known that they caused granuloma formations and embolization.