Once upon a time wombs were thought to wander, tobacco was known as "God's remedy," and eggs were bad for you. Today we know those things aren't true, and many historical health claims weren't just wrong — they were dangerous.
Which of the following treatments is considered one of medicine's oldest remedies?
insulin coma therapy
Bloodletting is thought to have begun among the ancient Egyptians. It was used by Greek physicians, was popular throughout the Roman empire and was the standard treatment for many health problems, from plague to pox, in medieval Europe. By the end of the 19th century, bloodletting's popularity waned not because it could (and often did) result in accidental death, but because of new treatments and discoveries.
Which was once a common ingredient in teething relievers?
Remedies to relieve teething babies often contained alcohol. The label for vintage Atkinson Infants Preservative, for instance, shows it has no narcotic content, although it does contain 50 percent alcohol.
True or false: The Radiendocrinator was meant to treat erectile dysfunction.
The Radiendocrinator, which was a 2-by-3 inch (5-by-8 centimeter) case containing radium-infused paper (250 microcuries or 9.25 million becquerel), was intended to be worn against the skin "like an athletic strap."
What WASN'T an active ingredient in the "Wizard Oil cure" of 1861?
Wizard Oil, aka snake oil, claimed to cure pretty much everything. Bleeding gums? Check. Cholera? Yup. Sprains and cramps, too. Its boldest claim, though, was that it could erase your pain away — and from any beast, for that matter. While Wizard Oil probably didn't cure anything, its ingredients, including alcohol, chloroform and turpentine, could have been fatal. While we can't be 100 percent certain, we feel pretty confident that it didn't contain methamphetamine.
What health condition inspired the name of Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"?
Mercurial disease, caused by chronic mercury poisoning, was common among hatmakers, and the phrase "mad as a hatter" was in use three decades before "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was published. Due to an occupational hazard caused by a process called "carroting," part of felt hatmaking, hatters often developed symptoms such as tremors, excessive saliva, forgetfulness and unprovoked anger.
What disease was thought to be cured with shark cartilage?
In the 1950s, surgeon John Prudden began researching whether or not animal cartilage could be used as a medical treatment. His results? That he was to shrink cancer tumors with it. After his book "Sharks Don't Get Cancer" was published in 1992, shark cartilage use skyrocketed.
Which is one of the few mental health treatments that has received a Nobel Prize?
Neurologist Egas Moniz won a Nobel Prize in 1949 for introducing the lobotomy, an operation that was supposed to alleviate the symptoms of mental health disorders (and used particularly to treat schizophrenia) by separating the prefrontal region's connection with other parts of the brain.
Inspired by American First Nations people who used tobacco medicinally, medical practitioners in 18th-century England began using it in what way?
Eighteenth-century European doctors used tobacco smoke enemas — with bellows, yes, for blowing the smoke up you-know-where — to treat everything from headaches to death. The enemas fell out of fashion when it was discovered nicotine was damaging to the heart.