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Mashed up Mice, Toad Pills, and More of History's Strangest Medical Treatments

Have a toothache? Perhaps we could interest you in some mashed up mice!

Back in the day, before modern medicine and antibiotics, there were a variety of treatments, cures, potions and notions as to how to heal the sick. Some treatments are downright foolish, others seem pretty dangerous and others simply make no sense. Take a look at some of the more questionable old-timey treatments of diseases compiled from various sources.

Today there is a lot of controversy over using animals for medical testing and experiments but prior civilizations had no qualms about using animals as medicine. It seems that ancient Egyptians used mashed mice for toothaches while Elizabethans would rub a half mouse on a wart and also used mice for smallpox, measles, bed-wetting and more. Dried toad pills can cure some ailments and gargling with cow dung three times a day can do wonders for a cough.

In an attempt to get stutterers to speak straight, doctors in the 18th and 19th century would cut tongues in half. Today, the procedure, known as Hemiglossectomy, is reserved only for oral cancers and performed under anesthesia, which was likely not the case in the past.

Many of the illegal drugs today once were used for medical purposes. Morphine to quiet crying babies, opium to stop coughing and diarrhea, arsenic mixed with mercury to cure syphilis, heroin for asthma, cocaine for toothaches and the list goes on.

John Welsey, a British physician in the late 1740s and also known as the co-founder of Methodism, wrote an entire book on cures. Some of them, like chamomile tea to soothe a stomach are pretty valid. Taking a cold bath to cure breast cancer, less so.

Another way to stop cancer? Never get it in the first place by eating three almonds a day as a preventative measure.

Should you be unfortunate enough to catch a cold (likely because you didn’t prevent it by eating an onion sandwich and washing your hair), you can get rid of it by catching leaves in your hand as they fall from a tree.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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