1. Chronic diseases were treated with physical exercise and holy water.
In the times of Hippocrates (460-370 BC), they believed that epilepsy was caused by God’s will. He was convinced that the reasons for this disease were wind, cold, and sun. In the middle ages, people with epilepsy were believed to be possessed by demons and were treated with prayers and holy water.
Ancient doctors treated diabetes with physical exercises and healing herbs, but this didn’t bring any positive results, and the patients usually died.
Skin diseases, like psoriasis, were considered incurable. Patients had to wear a bell as a warning to others to stay away.
2. Almost all diseases were treated with bloodletting.
It was believed that blood contained “bad humor” which had to be let out to cure the patient. In the medieval period, barbers took care of bloodletting. It was popular up to the 19th century. Even George Washington had his tonsillitis cured this way, although he died afterward.
3. They used snake venom and poisonous herbs.
Before antibiotics, people tried to fight infections with remedies based on plant poisons and viper venoms. Modern scientists came to the conclusion that the reasons for their antibacterial actions were small proteins called disintegrins.
4. They practiced skull trephination.
Headaches, epilepsy, and other psychological disorders used to be cured by drastic measures: doctors drilled holes in their patient’s skull. Trephination is the oldest surgical operation. Proof was also found in human remnants from the Neolithic age. This method was very popular in ancient American civilizations, as well as during the Renaissance era.
5. A tobacco smoke enema was a very popular treatment.
Digestion problems, somnolence, stomach cramps, and parasites were all treated with a tobacco smoke enema, a method adopted from North American Indians. However, in the 19th century, they discovered that tobacco contains poisonous nicotine, and these enemas went out of fashion.
Preview photo credit JohnCalvinAndThomasHobbes / imgur