Surprising Facts About the History of Medicine

Facts about the History of Medicine

Whether you hate going to the doctor, or you are studying to become one yourself, we can all agree that there is something fascinating and terrifying about medicine.

To prove our point, we are going to show you our list of 10 Startling Facts About the History of Medicine. They will scare your pants off, but not before fully intriguing you with their hard-to-believe practices.

From using snake oil and dead mice, to goat testicles and earthworms, the medical practices of long ago were seriously messed up. This list will definitely make you thankful that you live in this century!

Facts about the History of Medicine

1 The “Powder of Sympathy”

This was Sir Kenelm Digby’s treatment for rapier wounds: pig brains, rust, decayed flesh, and earthworms.

2 Enemas Used to be En Vogue

They were called clysters, and King Louis XIV was said to have had about 2,000 during his reign.

3 Contraception Back in the Day

Other ancient forms of birth control included putting tree sap, sea sponges, and elephant poo inside the woman’s private parts.

4 Crocs as Condoms?

The ancient Egyptians used crocodile poo as a form of female sexual protection.

5 Hemiglossectomy is Still Used

Oral cancer patients often have to undergo the chopping of the tongue (but in a much safer way.)

6 Ouch!

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors chopped off half a person’s tongue to stop their stuttering.

7 Look to the Liver

Ancient Mesopotamian civilization sacrificed sheep and analyzed the liver for medical knowledge.

8 Other Elizabethan Uses for Mice

Mice were medical helpers; they were said to help with whooping cough, measles, and smallpox.

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9 Mice and Warts

In the times of Elizabethan England, a dead mouse would be halved and applied to warts.

10 How the Egyptians Cured Toothaches

They would just stick a big ol’ dead mouse in their mouths.

Ancient & Medieval Medicine

The history of medicine is about two of our big questions: one, what is life? What makes it so special, so fragile, so… goopy!?

Two, how do we know what we know? Why should I take my doctor’s advice? Why are deep-fried Oreos bad for me?

It may be tempting to look at medicine as a science that has simply progressed over time—that medicine used to be bad, and its history is a story of how it got better.