It’s tough to save up with the treatment references coming the end of the clinical community. Sooner or later something is great for you, and the next day it’s deadly and also should it is in avoided. Addictive drugs like heroin were provided to youngsters to cure coughs, electrical shock therapy has been a long used treatment for impotence, and also “miracle” diet pills were handed out prefer candy. Listed below are 7 of the many shocking treatments recommended by doctors.

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1. Snake Oil—Salesmen and also Doctors


While this day a “snake oil salesman” is someone who knowingly sells cheat goods, the usage of line oil has real, medicinal routes. Extract from the oil that Chinese water snakes, it most likely arrived in the United says in the 1800s, with the flow of Chinese workers toiling on the Transcontinental Railroad. Well-off in omega-3 acids, the was supplied to alleviate inflammation and treat arthritis and also bursitis, and was rubbed on the workers’ joints after ~ a long day of working on the railroad.Enter Clark Stanley, “The Rattlesnake King.” originally a cowboy, Stanley declared to have actually studied through a Hopi medicine man who turned the on to the healing strength of snake oil. He take it this new found “knowledge” top top the road, performing a show-stopping act at the Chicago World’s same in 1893, wherein he reached into a bag, grabbed a rattlesnake, cut it open, and squeezed it. He labeling the extract line oil, even though the FDA later shown that his assets didn’t contain any type of kind of snake oil, rattlesnake or otherwise. That didn’t stop other unscrupulous doctors and also fraudulent salesmen, who also started travel the American West, peddling bottles of fake line oil, offering the truly advantageous medical therapy a negative name.


Advertisement for Cocaine Toothache Drops,1890. Courtesy nationwide Library of Medicine. (Credit: smith Collection/Getty Images).

Around the mid 1880s, researchers were may be to isolation the energetic ingredient of the coca leaf, Erythroxylon coca (later recognized as cocaine). Pharmaceutical companies loved this new, fast-acting and also relatively-inexpensive stimulant.

In 1884, an Austrian ophthalmologist, Carol Koller, found that a couple of drops the cocaine solution put on a patient’s cornea acted as a topical anesthetic. That made the eye immobile and de-sensitized come pain, and caused less bleeding at the website of incision—making eye surgical procedure much much less risky. News that this discovery spread, and also soon cocaine was being used in both eye and sinus surgeries. Marketed as a therapy for toothaches, depression, sinusitis, lethargy, alcoholism, and also impotence, cocaine was quickly being offered as a tonic, lozenge, powder and also even offered in cigarettes. It even showed up in Sears Roebuck catalogues. Well-known home remedies, such as Allen’s Cocaine Tablets, might be to buy for simply 50 cent a box and also offered relief for every little thing from hay fever, catarrh, throat troubles, nervousness, headaches, and also sleeplessness. In reality, the side impacts of cocaine actually caused numerous of the ailments it declared to cure—causing absence of sleep, eating problems, depression, and also even hallucinations.

You didn’t need a doctor’s prescription to acquisition it. Some claims sold cocaine at bars, and also it was, famously, among the key ingredients in the soon-to-be common Coca-Cola soft drink. Through 1902, there were an approximated 200,000 cocaine addicts in the U.S. Alone. In 1914, the Harrison narcotic Act outlawed the production, importation, and also distribution the cocaine.


We have 19th-century physicians to say thanks to for the arrival of the vibrator, i m sorry was very first advertised together a cure for a catch-all, woman “disease” recognized as hysteria. Hysteria was thought to reason any variety of maladies, including anxiety, irritability, sex-related desire, insomnia, faintness, and also a bloated stomach—so virtually every woman verified some symptoms. The problem traced its roots earlier to ancient medical theories around “wandering wombs,” wherein a displaced (and discontented) uterus brought about female ok health.

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The treatment? A “pelvic massage” that would induce “hysterical paroxysm”—commonly well-known as an orgasm. This project lay with Victorian physicians who manually massaged women. In an effort to spare the doctors this work, one ingenious practitioner named Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville created a steam-powered, “electromechanical clinical instrument.” Nicknamed the “Manipulator,” the an equipment allowed ladies to provide themselves house massages, enabling them come cure their “wandering wombs.”

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4. Fen-Phen—A wonder Pill for weight Loss


Bottles the Phentermine and Fenfluramine, commonly known together Phen-Fen. (Credit: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

Today’s weight-loss sector is an approximated $60 exchange rate business, a huge portion of i beg your pardon is invested on diet pills. And also while the first fat-busting pills go on the sector in the late 1880s, no other pills have had quite the speedy rise and also fall as Fen-Phen go in the 1990s.Originally released right into the market as two different drugs—the appetite suppressant Fenfluramine and the amphetamine Phentermine—they to be marketed as temporary diet aids, yet proved largely ineffective on their own. In the late 1970s, however, the two commodities were linked by Dr. Michael Weintraub to produce what became known as Fen-Phen. Weintraub performed a solitary study v 121 patients over the food of 4 years. The patients, two-thirds of which were women, lost an median of 30 pounds through seemingly no side effects—but Weintraub’s study didn’t screen the patients’ hearts. The brand-new miracle medicine was an initial introduced right into the sector in 1992, and also people might not get enough of it. Some doctors, searching for a quick means to do cash, activate “fen-phen mills,” wherein desperate patient looking to melted excess weight would pay anything for the pills. Soon, part 6 million american were using it.