The actual role of medicine is to deal with the maintenance of health and the alleviation, prevention, or cure of disease.
But some intended medicines ended up ruining humans’ health, causing diseases, or even resulting in numerous deaths.
Check out these 10 medicines that made things worse in human medical history:
1. Paraffin Wax Surgeries
Nowadays, doctors use silicone inserts to enlarge breast size or Botox and collagen for face lifts.
The first recorded attempts at artificial breast enhancement and wrinkle removal go back to the 1900s. The operation included injecting paraffin wax directly into the breast to boost its volume or into the wrinkled spot to make it smooth.
However, this procedure has soon been rejected for good reason. Harsh infections were a common side effect, and it also resulted in the formation of painful hard lumps called paraffinomas.So instead of enhancing a woman’s breasts, this primitive technique left them hard, hurtful, and misshaped.
2. LSD and Ecstasy Treatments
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and ecstasy (MDMA) are psychedelics with a complex history of being used as mental illness treatments since the early 20th century.
In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers studied the LSD therapy and reported multiple clinical papers after testing over 40,000 patients. The exposed problem was that using psychedelics to treat mental health issues is actually causing psychiatric disorders.
LSD can lead to extreme anxiety and panic attacks, commonly referred to as ‘bad trips’ nowadays.
Mostly, the psychosis-like reaction lasts only for a short period of time, but in other cases, it was chronic!
In fact, users of psychiatric drugs can develop latent mental conditions that wouldn’t have manifested otherwise. Eventually, the drug’s medical use was prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
3. Radium Water Cure
Radium water, or radioactive water, is a reminder that bad medical ideas don’t have to come from the far away past.
Around 1913, advertisements that promoted making radioactive drinking water at home were common for radiation therapy. Perhaps the reason why this was seen as a good idea until the 20th century was because radioactivity wasn’t discovered until then. But once we knew about it, we certainly did move fast.
The creators of an entire variety of radioactive treatments assured that the high-energy water could cure anything from acne to arthritis to high blood pressure.
Unluckily, this miracle-like cure also went hand in hand with horrible side effects such as cancer, fatigue, decaying bones, loss of hair and teeth, and all the symptoms of radiation intoxication.
Radium is now clearly understood to be a serious health hazard.
4. Goat Testicles Implant
In the early 1900s, John Brinkley claimed he could heal infertility, impotence, and several sexual problems by surgically installing goat testicles into a man’s scrotum. He became one of the wealthiest doctors in the US, regardless of his huge lack of medical qualifications.
The craziest part probably is how he managed to convince so many patients to undergo such a surgery and also to pay as much as $750 per operation, which is $8,600 in current value.
Brinkley opened a 16-room clinic in 1913 and started to perform endless operations that he assumed would recover male fertility and virility through implanting the goats’ testicular glands.
The ill-conceived operations eventually caused hormonal and impotence problems, which resulted in dozens of deaths and many horrible infections.
5. Arsenic Medicines
Arsenic is perhaps a well-known poison, but not in the past, where it was used as a medicine for centuries and was a key ingredient in many patent medicines, including a potential cure for syphilis and malaria from the late 18th century until the 1950s, as well as another medicine to treat diabetes and arthritis.
Arsenic was also used by Victorian women as a cosmetic. The problem with all these medicines was obviously, the arsenic poisoning that can quickly kill humans if consumed in large amount.
Also, small and long-term exposure can result in other illnesses or a much slower death. Studies have linked continued arsenic exposure to liver disease, diabetes, and cancer.
6. Animal Feces
People in ancient Egypt would dry animal feces and insert it into the vagina, as it would soften under the body temperature to make an impenetrable boundary. There are also endless other examples of dung being used for medicinal purposes throughout history.
Certain African cultures used elephant and crocodile poop as a contraceptive. In England during the 17th century, doctors recommended chicken dung to treat baldness. In India, potions and cosmetics mixed with cow dung have been used to cure anything from acne to cancer.
The problem with medicines including dung is bacteria contents, which lead to a wide variety of diseases. Actually, contaminated water with fecal material causes an estimated 1.8 million deaths a year in developing countries.
7. Mercury Pills
Mercury was once the most popular medicine for indigestion, syphilis, old age, and almost anything else.
This famed metal found its way into the bloodstreams of some highly important people, including Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who probably died from the consumption of mercury pills which he believed would make him immortal, and Abraham Lincoln who likely got his fits of rage as a result of mercury use.
The terrible thing is that once you have got mercury into your bloodstream, it can’t be undone. It accumulates over numerous doses, and at its worst, this neurotoxic element can cause ulcerations, loss of motor control, neurological damage, paralysis, insanity, and death. Just the exact opposite of the anti-aging cure it was once considered to be.
8. Tapeworms Diet
Dieting became a huge business during the 19th century. The more diet products being sold, the more advertising was becoming even more sophisticated.
The tapeworm diet began to be advertised in the early 1900s, dieters would swallow a pill of beef tapeworm cysts, so as the tapeworms would grow in their intestines and absorb food to make them lose weight fast.
Well, this didn’t only result in losing weight but also in vomiting and diarrhea.
Once the dieter attained their desired weight, they took an anti-parasitic pill which would hopefully kill the tapeworms. Excreting these worms could cause rectal and abdominal complications.
This was too risky in various ways. In fact, a tapeworm can grow up to 30 ft (9 m) in length and can also cause many conditions including epilepsy, dementia, meningitis, eye problems, and headaches.
9. Virgin Cleansing
The perplexing myth that a person who’s infected with an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) can cure themselves through transferring the disease by having sex with a virgin, dates back to the 16th century.
This myth probably continues to exist in some parts of Africa. Not to mention that this ‘treatment’ results in the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to accomplish.
Instead of healing, the intentional and unprotected intercourse will spread the STD at an alarming rate.
10. Mummies Powder
Corpses were ground into powder and used as medicine across the Middle East and medieval Europe.
This powder was believed to cure several common illnesses such as stomach ulcers, coughs, and headaches. It was even used as a poisoning antidote.
During the mummy powder craze, Ambrose Pere, a 17th-century French surgeon, reported that this drug is doing no good and causes severe vomiting, foul-smelling breath, and serious stomachaches. Even worse, the diseases that may be lurking in the corpse of an ancient mummy can be easily transmitted to the person using it.
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