Ancient medicine was quite strange, they drained patient´s blood out because it was considered a bad blood. Dental extractions were very painful not to mention surgeries on the brain. Some of this terrible remedies worked others just send people to heaven. Did you know that Europeans used corpses as medicine and that prehistoric people would remove part of the skull while the person was still alive? Or that living leeches were used to subtract blood? And what’s with all the children used to promote cocaine for tooth aches??
A tree of life cured a bunch of men
While exploring Canada about 450 years ago, the explorer Jacques Cartier and his ships got trapped in the ice without access to fresh food. The crews came down with a disease so gruesome that their mouth started to rot and the flesh on their gums started to fall off, even to the roots of their teeth, which also fell out. This scariest medical disaster is now known to result from a Vitamin C deficiency, but at the time, Cartier had no idea what to do. One of the men that he had captured from the area showed Cartier how to make a mixture from a special tree and they were cured within a couple of days. After that, there was such a rush for the medicine that they were ready to take one another out, and used up a whole large tree. The identity of this tree is not certain but it could have been the eastern white cedar or white spruce. Whatever it was, its nutritional benefits resulted in the sailors’ complete cure. Cartier repaid the man by kidnapping him again along with nine other people. By the time of Cartier’s next voyage – to Canada in 1541 – most of the prisoners were gone, but Cartier informed their relatives that they were living in style in France. The cure did not gain widespread recognition and the scariest disease continued to claim the lives of sailors for more than 200 years.
A leech craze
A leech craze hit 19th-century Europe Leeches have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes and are even considered today to be a way of restoring circulation after reconstructive surgery. Leeches really became popular in the early 19th century when the French doctor François-Joseph-Victor Broussais, claimed that all disease came from inflammation that was treatable by bloodletting. Barrels of leeches were shipped around the world and wild leech populations almost became extinct a true disaster. Whoever came up with leech farms at that time made a fortune! Many people in the Victorian era believed that you could be cured of just about anything by getting rid of the contaminated blood. At the time I guess leeches were better than using a lancet –which is like a small knife- the loss of blood was more gradual and less of a shock for those with a delicate constitution. In case you feel like fainting by now. And since Broussais’s followers used leeches instead of all the other medicines at the 19th-century physician’s disposal, patients were spared some harsh remedies that might otherwise have made them feel worse. Leech therapy anyone?
Prehistoric people needed surgery like a hole in the head In the 1800s a
These people needed surgery like a hole in the head In the 1800s a pre historic skull was found from around 1400–1530 BC that had a rectangular hole in its front lobe. After much debate among scientists and doctors, it was determined that the hole had been made deliberately while the person was still alive.
Examples of this ancient practice, called trepanning have been found worldwide, dating back as far as 10,000 BC. It’s possible that trepanning was a practical way to treat skull fractures. (Fun Fact- Also a method used by the ancient Greeks.) Head wounds often result because of conflict or just everyday accidents and it is possible that our ancestors observed the course of infection and realized that bone would eventually disintegrate (if the patient didn’t pass away in the meantime). They then might have tried to remove these skull fragments manually to help the person survive. It seems to have developed independently in many cultures around the world and there are different ways of doing it: scraping the skull with a sharp flint; boring a circle of holes and prying out the resulting disc; creating a square of grooves and removing the middle. Another theory held by anthropologists is that prehistoric people believed evil spirits occupied the body and were trying to escape so they would remove a fragment of the person´s skull. I personally like the first theory better….