The Worst Pieces of Health Advice Ever Given

Throughout history, well-meaning folks have dispensed health advice that, in hindsight, would make a modern doctor do a spit-take with their kale smoothie. That’s why today, we’re taking you on a side-splitting journey back in time as we explore some of the most legendary (and, let’s be honest, laughably awful) health tips ever foisted upon humanity.

The Tobacco Smoke Enema: A Breath of Fresh…Air (Maybe)

Yes, you read that right. In the early 20th century, some “medical professionals” believed that blowing tobacco smoke up someone’s rectum could revive them from a fainting spell or even treat asthma. Let’s just say this “treatment” probably left patients more breathless than before.

Balance Your ‘Humors’ with Leeches

Ah, the good old days! Feeling sluggish? Doctors back then might prescribe a “bloodletting” session, using leeches to supposedly suck out the bad humors causing your woes. Spoiler alert: Your sluggishness probably wasn’t caused by excess yellow bile.

Smoke Your Way to Relaxation

Cigarette companies in the mid-20th century were like enthusiastic jazz musicians scatting about the health benefits of cigarettes. They claimed cigarettes soothed nerves, aided digestion, and even helped with weight loss. Just don’t cough too hard; it might dislodge some of those “relaxation benefits.”

Mercury: The Multipurpose Marvel!

This shiny element wasn’t just for thermometers back in the day. Mercury was touted as a cure-all for everything from syphilis to constipation. In the end, the only thing “cured” by mercury was people’s desire to ever feel well again.

Sweat It Out in a Radioactive Sauna

Feeling under the weather? Hop in a radium-lined sauna, they said! These high-radiation sweat lodges were all the rage in the early 1900s, promising to cleanse your body and boost your energy. Because what better way to fight a cold than with a healthy dose of radiation?

Alcohol: The Elixir of Life (and Euphoria)

For centuries, people believed moderate alcohol consumption was good for your health. Some doctors even recommended a daily tipple for “heart health.” While a glass of red wine might have some benefits, a daily gallon probably wasn’t the best prescription.

Soup Can Therapy

Remember that scene in “MASH” where Hawkeye used a soup can to perform surgery? Well, it turns out there’s some historical truth to that! Cupping therapy, where heated cups are placed on the skin to supposedly draw out “impurities,” has been around for centuries. Just please, for the love of hygiene, use a sterile cup.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (…Forever!)

In the quest for everlasting hair removal, some folks in ancient Egypt resorted to rather…unpleasant methods. One such method involved a concoction of quicklime and arsenic paste. Let’s just say the results were permanent, but the side effects were enough to make your hair stand on end…if you had any left.

Balance Your Bodily Fluids with…Urine Therapy?

This “miracle cure” has been kicking around for centuries, with some believing that drinking your own urine can cure everything from allergies to cancer. Just the thought of it makes you want to run to the bathroom…the right one, hopefully.

The Coke Cure

Coca-Cola wasn’t always the sugary beverage we know today. In the late 19th century, it was marketed as a cure for headaches, nausea, and even morphine addiction. Maybe the sugar rush just masked the symptoms? We may never know.

The Cod Liver Oil Challenge

Remember that childhood dread of taking a spoonful of cod liver oil? Well, in some parts of the world, cod liver oil enemas were once a “treatment” for various ailments. Well, if the taste wasn’t enough to deter folks, the thought of that…procedure…certainly would.

Trepanation A Hole Lot of Trouble

This “medical practice” involved drilling a hole in the skull to supposedly relieve headaches, epilepsy, or even demonic possession. Needless to say, the success rate for this “procedure” was rather abysmal, and the side effects were, well, fatal.

Animal Testimonial Tuesday

Before the days of clinical trials, “medicine” often relied on testimonials. The logic? If it worked for a bear, it must work for a human, right? This led to some truly bizarre “treatments” based on animal behavior, like eating dirt because earthworms seemed to thrive in it. Funnily enough, the only thing we can imagine thriving in this scenario would be intestinal parasites.

The Royal Flush (Literally)

In medieval times, royalty and the wealthy believed that imbalances in the body’s “humors” could be corrected through elaborate enemas. These “treatments” often involved everything from wine and honey to herbs and even live animals (don’t ask). The only thing more luxurious than a gold-plated toilet seat would be the “ingredients” in these royal flushes.

Sweat the Toxins Out (Literally…Everywhere)

Fad diets and detox programs come and go, but some historical attempts at “detoxification” were truly outlandish. The Romans, for example, believed in sweating out toxins by exercising in a room filled with burning sulfur. Talk about adding insult to injury…and respiratory distress.

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