The creepiest treatments in medical history

For many thousands of years, medicine has been closely associated with spiritualism and myths. Even today, in some regions of the world, healing is often associated with procedures and practices that seem to us to be sheer quackery.

Even in the 20th century, bizarre and scientifically erroneous medical procedures were in full swing in the treatment of any ailment, from baldness to asthma. Below you can read about the seven strangest treatments in the history of medicine. Some of them have certain merit, while others are almost insane and lacking any scientific basis, but still gained popularity among doctors and patients.

Leeches and Bloodletting

The use of leeches to suck the blood of a sick person has been practiced for thousands of years, starting in ancient Egypt. Egyptian healers believed that this method helped to get rid of fever and various other diseases. Leeches were also widely used in medieval Europe.

And although leeches are not often used in our time, they are still preserved in modern medicine. They are used to facilitate the healing of skin after transplantation, often needed in the treatment of burns. Leeches have the ability to restore blood circulation in blocked veins and are used to replant fingers, ears, and other parts of the body. Back in 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of leeches for medicinal purposes.

Bloodletting is the process of extracting some of the patient's blood. In ancient times, physicians believed that the body's work was regulated by "juices", or body fluids, which must be in proper balance. Bloodletting was one of the most common medical practices until the 19th century. To date, it has already been proven that phlebotomy is not safe and also ineffective in the treatment of diseases.


Tapeworms are a terrible thing. Imagine a long white living thing curled up in some kind of organ and eating the food you eat.

One of the most flawed and creepy diets in existence is probably the tapeworm diet. Yes, people used to swallow tapeworms in the hope of losing weight. Meanwhile, doctors warn that such a “diet” can cause a wide range of unwanted side effects, and even lead to death. If you want to lose weight, it is better to stick to proven methods: consume fewer calories and increase physical activity.


In 1949, two doctors actually won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for a procedure known as lobotomy, which has now been debunked and labeled harmful. Lobotomy is a neurosurgical procedure that involves cutting the tissue that connects the frontal lobes of the brain to the rest of the brain by inserting pliers through the eye sockets and essentially penetrating the brain.

It sounds crazy, but by the mid-1900s, about 40, 000 lobotomies were performed in the United States alone. The method was largely pioneered by Yale graduate Dr. Walter Freeman, who lobotomized thousands of patients, often without wearing surgical gloves.

Lobotomy was thought to treat mental disorders in general, from anxiety and depression to hallucinatory disorders. In most cases, patients suffered neurological, mental and emotional damage as a result of this procedure, leaving them crippled for the rest of their lives.

Parents, worried about moody teenagers, allowed them to be lobotomized in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s; among them was John F. Kennedy's sister, Rosemary. As a rebellious teenager, she did not fit in with the rest of this ambitious and accomplished family; her father sent her for a lobotomy at the age of 23, after which she lost the ability to walk and speak for the rest of her life. Until her death, Rosemary lived in an institution cut off from the world, never recovering from the operation.


Perhaps one of the oldest forms of medical intervention in the human body is trepanation. Basically, it's about drilling holes in the skull to treat problems like seizures, migraines, and mental disorders. Evidence for this practice has been found in prehistoric remains from the Neolithic. Today, people like Bart Hughes still consider trepanning to be an effective way to increase the level of mental ability, although modern doctors have nothing good to say about this primitive procedure.

"Cure" asthma cigarettes

While this sounds counterproductive, in the 1900s, medicated cigarettes or flammable powders were often prescribed to asthma patients. Doctors recommended that asthma patients inhale smoke from burning dope, lobelia, tobacco, and potassium carbonate. Of course, it has long been known that smoking anything does more harm than good to asthmatics. Cigarettes, in particular, will only make your condition worse.

Urine therapy

Urine therapy is the use of urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. It may involve drinking your own urine by mouth or rubbing it into your skin. There is not much scientific evidence to support urine therapy, but some stalwarts continue to use it today.

This practice has been used around the world for thousands of years, starting in ancient Rome, where people allegedly used urine to brush their teeth. Drinking urine in the morning has also sometimes been associated with yoga or meditation.

Radioactive water

Another empty invention was radioactive water, which was popular at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1903, the radioactive properties of water from some hot mineral springs were discovered. People have come to the conclusion that radioactivity is good for health; hot springs began to be advertised as "radio" resorts. Radium was once declared a medicine for malaria and diarrhea by the chief physician of the US health service.

After that, people began to drink radioactive water and swim in it at these resorts. This whole venture is now simply called “radioactive quackery, ” because now we know that irradiated toothpaste will most likely not whiten your teeth, and in general will not bring anything good to your health.