5 of the Craziest Procedures in Medical History

While time traveling to a point in history would be incredible for so many reasons, medical treatments are not one of them. Sure, it may be a hassle or uncomfortable to visit the doctor these days, in no way does it compare to some procedures throughout medical history. Explore some of the craziest treatments that actually happened in the past. But, beware, you may be running to your doctor with an upset stomach afterwards.

1. Just a Spoonful…

Called children’s soothing syrups, these glass bottles were filled with a concoction sure to calm any hyper child. How? Oh, it’s just a bunch of narcotics mixed together. In 1910, the “New York Times” published an article calling out the producers of these syrups. In that article was a list of the ingredients which included heroin, powdered opium, chloroform and cannabis. Not surprisingly, many children died from overdoses of this irresponsible “medicine.”

2. Viagra is So This Century

In the late 1800s, electricity was an idea more and more people were starting to grasp. From beds to belts, electricity was being pumped into anything inventors felt could help cure male impotence. Belts seem to have been the most popular(?) method, as there are several ads proclaiming the wonders that a little shock can do. Feel like you’re a “weak man?” Just strap this bad boy on and your “seminal weakness” will zapped in no time.

3. We’re Gonna Need a Urine Sample

Today, urine samples are never a pleasant experience, but trying to force urine out so the doctor can run a few tests is nothing compared to how urine used to be used throughout medical history. Many different “experts” throughout time have supported the theory the secret to good health is not only drinking, but applying urine to your skin. Before you try this at home, it should be noted  urine has never consistently cured anything, not even jellyfish stings.

4. Give Blood

Unless your blood is getting tested for an annual physical, giving your blood to someone else is your personal choice. Not in the 1800s. Bloodletting was one of the most popular treatments performed in medical history. The practice began with the Greeks and continued throughout the 19th century. Bloodletting was used as a remedy for many complaints, from the common cold to stomach aches. The belief was any given ailment was caused because the person had too much blood.

5. Trepanation

What is trepanation, you ask? It’s a procedure that was done that involved a person’s head and a drill. It is also recognized as the first surgical procedure performed in medical history. It was believed to cure migraines and seizures. It wasn’t long before people realized knocking holes in their head wasn’t helping with either of these conditions. The Incans and Mayans also used trepanation for cosmetic purposes and we all know how their societies ended up.


Which of these procedures frightens you the most?




Kirstin Wright
Kirstin Wright
Kirstin is an IT worker by day and a freelance writer by night. When not behind a computer screen, she can be found exploring one of central Florida's famous theme parks or embarking on a new adventure. You can read about her adventures at Fun Orlando Ideas!