15 Weird Outdated Medical Practices

POSTED BY Naseema Perveen, UPDATED ON November 15th, 2023
Weird Outdated Medical Practices

The process of taming has been along with man through the process of evolution since his birth. To save himself from all possible diseases, he went to the extent of using some even hilarious treatment methods. Times have changed though since this happened. Nowadays it’s a lot easier to get the treatment that works. Anyway, here is a list of over a dozen weird outdated medical practices that have been around for centuries:


15. Peg legs

peg legs

The concept of peg legs was common for the pirates and Civil War-era amputees. Today the peg legs work far better than the choices of the past years which was, in fact, a crude hunk of wood fastened to the remaining leg matter.


14. Rest Cure

Rest Cure

Image Source: Brooklyn Museum

This method was first introduced by Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell during the nineteenth century and it was specifically used for women. It was specifically prescribed for those women who were seen as “hysterical”.

The method of cure was disparate from all other weird treatments at the time, as during this treatment women weren’t supposed to do any task whether it be reading, talking, or moving. They were not to imagine anything.


13. Children’s Soothing Syrup

Children's Soothing Syrup

During the 19th century, people were used to being busy with many chores including waxing their mustaches and churning butter, therefore they found a better option for their disobedient children. Several soothing syrups and powders were made to assist stressed mothers during the 19th century. These products were ensured to be safe for the use of toddlers.

These products were filled in the bottle as much as they could hold. Later in 1910, an article appeared in the New York Times that suggested that soothing syrup is hazardous for the health of babies in the long run as it contains heroin, codeine, chloroform, morphine, sulfate, and sometimes a mixture of all these.


12. Psychic Surgery

Psychic Surgery

Like many paranormal or psychic happenings, the following practice is a total hoax and utter rubbish. During the 1940s and around 50’s this practice was widely carried out in the Brazil and Philippines and became famous when Andy Kaufman, the famous comedian, went under psychic surgery to treat his lung cancer for six weeks in March 1984 (his health, however, didn’t improve and died soon after due to the lung cancer).

The concept behind this treatment was that a surgeon with no formal medical education, with his bare hands, would cut open the patient while tracing with a finger a line to remove the tumor which would come out of the body without any pain. The surgeon was also expected to remove other illnesses and bad spirits this way.


11. Radiated Water

Radiated Water

Before it was scientifically proven that Radium is a radioactive element that has various hazardous health effects, it was utilized to cure cancer. Radium was put into the water and marketed as a spray for youth.

It was said that when consumed it adds a spark of life, and it is a death-defying treatment. Additionally, it was also put into household goods and toothpaste. Surprisingly, even to this day it is still being sold and consumed by some people who consider it to be harmless.


10. Heroin to Calm Cough

Outdated Medical Practic of Heroin Drug

When you go through medical practices sometimes you will feel like people were hardly sensible in the old times. The lachrymose thing was that people seriously used heroin to relieve cough unaware of the fact of how noxious this drug was.


9. Leeches

medicinal leeches

Usage of leeches to cure sore throats is still common in some parts of the world. This type of cure was used to drain all the impurities in the body in a very good manner through the process of sucking. Although it seems disgusting in reality it is innocuous and it has the efficacy to cure certain diseases.

Leeches produce a special kind of enzyme known as hirud which helps in various kinds of surgery to avoid blood clotting.


8. Blood Letting

Blood Letting

Throughout history, bloodletting has been the most persevering and mainstream therapeutic practice ever. It was first used by the Greeks and practiced up to the nineteenth century for almost everything. During the day if you felt under the weather, there was a strong chance that it was because of the excessive blood in your body.

If you are astonished whether this practice works in the actual sense or not, the next time you get flu, come out of the couch, cut yourself, and let around 4 quarts of your blood ooze out of your body. Although you might feel better (as you just went through bloodletting), however, we can assure you that your influenza won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.


7. Cocaine

Cocaine Outdated Medical Practice

Cocaine was used as an ultimate painkiller for the treatment of various common ailments such as headaches, depression, fever, etc. It was considered to be the best medicine for turning bad feelings into good feelings.

Cocaine was scientifically proven to be injurious to health due to certain negative effects that it has on the human body which include both psychological and cardiological detriments, along with its strong addictiveness. It was quite commonly used in the field of medicine before being declared illegal and after the ban instead in hospitals, it found its popularity in nightclubs.


6. Shock Therapy

Outdated Shock Therapy

Several types of shock therapies have been used traditionally to make desirable changes in patients. As the name indicates, this method involves the electrocution of patients so that doctors can apply mild shocks on certain targeted areas of their patient’s skulls. These sorts of therapies are applied most of the time to those patients who have been suffering from some kind of mental illness or schizophrenia.

The process was carried out until the patient sank into a coma for several days. During this time the patient was administered a supply of insulin. The recovery of the patient after the coma was expected to improve their mental health.


5. Cure by Mercury


Mercury, although one of the toxic elements, was used as a cure for various diseases. The shiny nature of mercury has captivated people for years.

It was used as a medicine for several diseases. If you have scraped your knee or you have a problem related to regularity, you just need to rub mercury over it to get rid of it. It was also used by ladies at times for makeup (causing several deaths due to poisoning).


4. Ear Candles

ear candling

This bizarre medical practice wasn’t for the faints of the heart and was used for removing crustaceans, debris, and wax. The candle drew out wax by putting negative pressure.

The practice was more harmful than the benefits it caused, as wax from the candle entered the ear canal (damaging it in the process) and caused a lot of pain. This practice was synonymous with burning someone’s house for lighting.


3. Trepanning


Trepanning is the fancy word for the medical procedure that involves the drilling of one’s head. This utter brutal practice was used to cure mental issues in the long run. It was believed that this practice would also remove the effects of any evil spirit.


2. Lobotomies

Outdated Medical Lobotomies

If you are too depressed, you are likely to go to a psychiatrist for a session these days. However, if you were born in the early 20th century, the psychiatrist would have put a 10-inch long ice pick into your eye socket as it was one of the widely used treatment methods for curing depression.


1. Urine Therapy

Weird Outdated Medical Practice of Urine Therapy

We are sure that by just reading the name of this medical treatment you can guess that we’re not heading toward something good. It is true that throughout history many individuals have believed that floundering in one’s particular excretions was one of the key ways to have good health. This was considered to cure a various number of ailments and if consumed regularly it could improve health, and the immune system and has anti-aging effects.

To this day, there’s truly no scientific confirmation at all that pee treatment can cure or improve a damn thing.

These bizarre medical practices mostly had negative effects on the health of patients except for a few methods that helped people. Good thing we are past these practices. It is hard to believe that despite some methods being outright hilarious, they have been in practice for so long. Feel free to share with us a few more weird outdated medical practices in the comments section below!

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