Most dangerous medical treatments of antiquity

Learn about the most dangerous medical treatments from ancient times to learn how medicine has evolved by leaps and bounds.

The field of medicine today is in a privileged situation compared to ten, fifty, one hundred or, of course, thousands of years ago. What is done today in a simple and even routine way a long time ago could put into question risk the health of a patient. Today we will recount some of the most dangerous medical treatments of antiquity with the aim of knowing how medicine has evolved by leaps and bounds.

Fumigations with sulfur to eliminate female infertility

The ancient Greeks believed that the womb was an independent being. If women did not have children at an early age, they risked their uterus will wander through your body. This would cause them infertility and more serious conditions, such as seizures or choking.

Through hot baths and massages, the Greek doctors tried to reposition the uterus wandering in its original place. If this did not work, then they chose a more aggressive treatment: fumigate the head of the patient with sulfur as they rubbed her thighs with sweet-smelling fragrances.

This was done under the following logic: the bad smell of sulfur would make the uterus go back down to the right place, also attracted by the sweet smell of the patient’s thighs.

Mummy powders and other cadaver medicines

The remains of corpses They have been seen since time immemorial as good medicinal sources. For example, during the twelfth century, the “mummy powder” it was made from crushed mummified remains that were stolen from Egypt and used to create various medicines.

Other examples are the “drops of the king”, an alcoholic drink containing crushed pieces of human skull. In Rome at the time of the gladiators, the blood of these fighters who died in combat was used to treat diseases such as epilepsy.

Poop masks for skin problems

in the old Egypt it was believed that the excrement could help improve skin problems. That’s why they prepared poultices that were placed on wounds to heal them. For their part, ancient Egyptian doctors used human feces and animals to make balms Y ointments to cure topical ailments. The feces of dogs, gazelles and even flies were used to make ointments with which evil spirits were driven away.


The mercury it was used as a common elixir and topical medicine. In the case of the ancient Persians and Greeks it was considered a useful ointment; For their part, second-century Chinese alchemists prized liquid mercury and red mercury sulfide for their supposed ability to increase life expectancy.

Some healers even believed that concoctions with mercury, sulfur and arsenic granted the eternal life and the ability to walk on the water One of the most famous victims of this remedy was the Chinese emperor qin shi huangwho supposedly died after ingesting mercury pills that would make him immortal.

brain trepanations

There was a time when doctors drilled a hole in the skull to relieve cranial pressure. These were the dangerous brain trepanations. Archaeological evidence suggests that many people survived this procedure, but risked permanent brain damage.

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