20 Wacko cures and medical procedures from the past


10 Powder of sympathy

The usual practice of curing a wound involves applying a remedy directly on the wound, but not in this case. Some people in 17th century Europe thought differently.

This specialized half magical and a half medical procedure was exclusively invented for curing sword wounds by applying a powder on the weapon which caused the wound, but not on the wound itself.

This fight had probably led to sword powdering

This way, people hoped that the weapon would heal the injury which was provoked. Here are some of the ingredients of the powder that was applied to the blade: earthworms, pigs’ brains, iron oxide (rust), and bits of mummified corpses.

11 Snake Oil

Snake oil was introduced in the Western world mainly through Chinese laborers that worked on the First Transcontinental Railroad. People used to give this traditional Chinese remedy to workers that had arthritis problems or some other joint pains.

They claimed that rubbing some snake oil on the joint helped them reduce the pain.

Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil advertising poster

Western medicine practitioners looked suspiciously upon this remedy and made the term “snake oil” became a synonym for all those ineffective remedies with unidentified ingredients.

12 Vin Mariani

A glass of wine is always beneficial for a person’s health, but in 1863 a French chemist called Angelo Mariani decided to make his own enhanced type of wine. Mariani introduced himself with the coca plant and its effects and came up with the idea for the Vin Mariani tonic. Mariani’s wine tonic was made out of Bordeaux wine mixed with coca leaves.

A Vin Mariani advertising poster

The alcohol that the wine contained acted as a solvent that extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves so, besides the effects of the wine, Vin Mariani was enhanced with the effects of the cocaine.

A bottle of Vin Mariani contained around 6 mg of cocaine. Mariani advertised his drink as an energy drink, claiming that it restores health, strength, energy, and vitality. he also said that his tonic helps “overworked men, delicate women, and ill children.” Thomas Edison, Queen Victoria, the Czar of Russia, Pope Saint Pius X, and Pope Leo XIII, were among the famous people that loved Vin Mariani. Inspired by this product, John S. Pemberton will later invent the drink that we know today as Coca-Cola.

13 Heroin Cough Syrup

Heroin is one of the most abused and addictive substances in the world, but at the beginning of the 20th century, people thought differently.

After Bayer had synthesized heroine out of morphine, they started to advertise it and sell it as a cough syrup for children. They claimed that unlike morphine, the heroine was non-addictive, but pretty soon it was proven that their claim was completely wrong. After some tests had been conducted, tests subjects said that the substance made them feel “heroic,” so the name heroin was given to this new drug.

Bayer’s heroin bottle

At the beginning, tuberculosis patients felt very relieved from the effects of the drug, but soon the addiction effects took place and things changed. Finally, Bayer decided that it was time to discontinue the making of the product.

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