These are the craziest, most terrifying medical treatments in history. You won’t believe the bizarre healing methods & cures people to find relief from their pain.
7: Maggot Therapy
The first modern clinical studies of maggot therapy were created in 1989 at UC Irvine’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California. It is a controlled, debridement, germ-free, therapeutic use of live blow fly larvae or maggots to treat skin & soft tissue wounds. This method was first seen by an American surgeon named William Baer, who used it naturally on cuts & wounds of soldiers during World War I. But it was not looked into further until the late 1980s. Some treatments maggot therapy is popular for are pressure ulcers, stasis ulcers, neuropathic foot ulcers, & non-healing traumatic or post-surgery wounds. Medical maggots are, in fact, grown by the Food and Drug Administration strictly for medical use. So how exactly does maggot therapy work? To prevent the maggots from wandering & to keep the wound clean, the maggots are smeared onto the wound for 2 to 3 days within a special paste. The maggots then clean the wound by dissolving dead & infected tissue through the use of their digestive enzyme. The bacteria in the wound are then destroyed by its secretion of antimicrobial molecules. They ingest & kill microbes within their stomach & dissolve biofilm. This is technically how the maggots stimulate new tissue to grow. Since medicinal maggots cannot dissolve or feed on healthy tissue, their natural instinct is to crawl elsewhere as soon as the wounds are clean or the larvae are full. Maggot therapy can be prescribed by any licensed physician in the U.S. But not all fly species can be used for this method of treatment. The exact species of flies used in maggot therapy are blow flies, or more commonly known as the green blow fly. These flies have been tested for safety & efficiency over the course of 12 years. Since 2011, the numbers of wounds treated through the use of maggot therapy has reached 50,000 cases worldwide.
6: Honey-Coated Cadaver Consumption
In 16th-century Arabia, some elderly men would offer their lives for mummification in honey in hopes that the people can use their bodily fluids for further treatment. This bizarre method is known today as the honey-coated cadaver diet. In order for the treatment to work successfully, the soaking process begins prior to death. They would have an all-honey diet by bathing in & consuming the sweet nectar. They saw this consumption as a long-term investment in the body. Ultimately, your bodily fluids are turned into honey; this includes your feces & sweat secreting as honey as well. Once they die, the bodies of the men are then marinated in honey-filled stone tombs or coffins. The dead bodies are left inside there for at least a century. After mummification is complete, the body heads out to the black market for people to use to treat broken bones & other ailments.
5: The Tapeworm Diet
Tapeworms are segmented, ribbon-like parasitic worms known for sucking up their host’s digestive system. They can infect many different hosts such as dogs, cows, fishes, pigs, & sheep. Humans are infected by eating raw or undercooked meat from an infected animal. Although they can be deadly, these parasites have been used by some in a desperate attempt to lose weight fast in a dieting method known as the tapeworm diet. What many don’t realize—besides the fact that it’s a trendy way to lose weight that’s sweeping the dieting world—is that it’s also extremely risky & hazardous. Use of the tapeworm diet may result in the formation of cysts in the brain, eyes, liver, & spinal cord. Additionally, these parasites will happily grow & lay eggs along the walls of your intestinal tract, where they fight for vitamins & other essential nutrients. This may result in a nutritional deficiency & blockages within the intestine. The way this diet works is that the tapeworm directly disturbs your digestion & nutrient absorption, meaning you can take in more calories than normal while at the same time, lose weight. This method can result in a loss of one to two pounds per week, although the patient will keep developing tapeworms in their body. These worms can grow up to 30 feet long. Once the person is at a weight that they’re happy with, a detoxing agent must be drank in order to kill off the parasites & ultimately rid them from the digestive system. The tapeworm diet is currently illegal in the United States, but there are still treatment locations in Mexico where beef tapeworm cysts are administered to willing individuals for the price of about $1,500 U.S. dollars.
4: Snail Syrup
For centuries, one of the best cures for cough & other ailments comes from gastropods; or more commonly known as snails. In fact, regular garden snails can be used to retrieve their slime as they contain certain animalized mucilage. This slime can differ in quality & look based on the season, environmental conditions, & the snail’s food sources. From ancient Greece all the way to the Middle Ages, it was used medicinally to treat gastrointestinal ulcers & sore throats. The exact process of creating snail syrup is as follows: first, a garden snail must be found early in the morning while dew is still on it. It must then be beaten to death by breaking its shell & slit open. Both the slime & the carcass must be placed in a bag with about half a pound of sugar. By mixing these substances together, an extractable & valuable slime is created. These days, snail slime is also used in the cosmetics field by many different companies for skin treatment. As a matter of fact, snail secretion has a double function for human skin: it prevents skin aging & helps promote collagen growth. Additionally, some have been known to take a snail, stab it, then wait for the juice to come out, which they then take & insert into their ears to cure their earaches. The tribal people of Cameroon have also been known to use snail slime to treat their burns.
3: Dead Mouse Paste
Dead mouse paste is a treatment method that originated in ancient Egypt. Because Egypt is a country that sits on sand, it was difficult for people to prevent sand from blowing into there food, especially at outdoor markets & eateries. The grittiness of the sand would, in turn, wear down the enamel covering the tooth & thus expose blood vessels & nerves. With hopes that a dead mouse would cure toothaches, the Egyptians would cut a mouse in half, mash it up, then spread the paste over aching teeth or other body parts. Sometimes they’d even blend the mouse with other ingredients, resulting in a heavy duty paste designed for stronger pain. But the ancient Egyptians weren’t the only ones that made use of the dead mouse paste method. During Elizabethan England, it was widely popular primarily for treating warts. The Elizabethans included mice in their culinary dishes, eating them fried or baked in pies. Other illnesses they would treat using dead mouse paste are smallpox, bed-wetting, whooping cough, & measles.
2: Malaria Injection
Believe it or not, but the malaria virus—found in mosquitos dwelling along African rivers—can & is used medicinally to cure syphilis. Before the development of antibiotics in modern medicine, psychiatrists were looking for ways to naturally cure syphilis. One psychiatrist in particular named Julius Wagner won a noble peace prize in his pursuit of biological methods to treat different diseases. In fact, he is only one of three people ever in the history of psychiatry to have discovered a cure from natural substances. Dr. Wagner worked at a psychiatric asylum in Austria that regularly received patients, most of whom were transferred there with a variety of illnesses such as typhoid or pneumonia. He figured that many of these same illnesses had a direct correlation with fluctuations in body temperature. Therefore, by injecting malaria into the body, the patient would experience an extremely high fever with a quick rise in the body’s temperature & making the patient feel as if their body was burning. But it is this same rise in body temperature & heat that worked so effectively in killing off the syphilis bacteria. Although it is rare, the malaria injection method can still be found to this day in some parts of the world.
Trephination is the process of drilling, scraping, or chiseling a hole into one’s cranium without the use of anesthesia. It was used during ancient times before any sort of pain-numbing agents were developed. Trephination is rooted in the belief that the amount of blood in a person’s brain is what’s responsible for their well-being & state of consciousness. The process begins by removing a piece of skull bone. This exposes what’s known as the dura mater, or the thick membrane that surrounds the brain & spinal cord. Ancient surgeons were able to do this without destroying vital blood vessels & meninges in the brain. Blood is then drained in order to relieve pressure in the skull. It’s been said that this practice was a fitting cure for a range of problems such as migraines, seizures, mental disorders, & intracranial disease. Trephination was also used during emergency surgeries on patients who had fractured their skulls after receiving bad head wounds by draining the pool of blood commonly found in the skull following severe injuries. Practitioners of trephination were said to have experimented with varying methods by drilling different hole sizes into the head to compare how much pressure a given hole size can relieve & whether or not it has a direct correlation with the patient’s recovery time.