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Bizarre cures through the ages

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London: Once upon a time, cigarettes were thought to treat asthma! A new report has brought out some of the weird and wonderful cures through the ages.

The review, presented by Professor Peter Barnes, from Imperial College London, has revealed that strong black coffee and herbal ‘cigarettes’ were once popular treatments for asthma, which used to be thought of as a psychosomatic condition brought on by stress, the Telegraph reports.

The ancients used various herbal remedies derived from horsetail, thorn-apple, and deadly nightshade, available as “asthma cigarettes.”

When the plague broke out in the 1300s, some of the more surprising cures doctors tried included arsenic and sitting in the sewers.

Another mode of treatment was bloodletting. The idea that bad blood caused illness and could be removed by taking it out has been around since the ancient Egyptians and has remained popular through the famous physician Galen until the Renaissance.

For well over 20 years, as late as 1939, the goat-gland treatment was regarded as a breakthrough of the first importance. Backed by some questionable theories, it made its creator Dr John Brinkley a multi-millionaire.

Ancient Babylonians opted for cures involving magic to solve their problems. One such treatment, in this instance for grinding your teeth, was sleeping with a human skull nearby – as well as kissing it several times a night – to remove spirits trying to get in contact.

Bizarrely, it was once thought that drilling a hole on your skull could cure a headache. A Bronze Age skull discovered on the banks of the Thames a few years ago shows how far back the age-old cure stretches.

One surviving medical text from ancient Egypt counsels rolls of lint for a broken nose. The idea was to put the rolls in the nostrils along with bandages on the outside. The most amazing part is modern science doesn’t offer much by way of a better alternative.

In the 17th Century Sir Kenelm Digby developed the idea of the ‘powder of sympathy’ – a copper sulphate mix which was applied to both the injured person and the object that caused the injury, for instance a sword.

The Victorians had tips and advice for getting through all aspects of life. Among the many instructive books published at the time, was one advising to hang a dead mole around the neck of a baby to ease its teething pain. (ANI)