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Historic Medical Advice That Will Leave You Horrified

Electroshock Therapy: The Controversial Treatment for Mental Illnesses Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock therapy, is a medical procedure that involves inducing a controlled seizure… Alli Anderson - March 31, 2023

Electroshock Therapy: The Controversial Treatment for Mental Illnesses

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock therapy, is a medical procedure that involves inducing a controlled seizure in a patient by administering electric shocks to the brain. It was first introduced in the 1930s as a treatment for severe mental illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia, and was widely used until the 1960s. The procedure is still used today, but only as a last resort when other treatments have failed. While the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, it is thought that the seizures triggered by ECT can alter brain chemistry and improve symptoms of mental illness. Despite its potential benefits, ECT has been the subject of controversy due to reports of negative side effects, including memory loss and brain damage.


The use of ECT has been a subject of debate among mental health professionals and patients alike. Supporters argue that it is a safe and effective treatment for severe mental illnesses that can significantly improve quality of life. Critics, however, argue that it is an outdated and potentially harmful procedure that should be replaced by newer, less invasive treatments. While ECT remains a viable treatment option for some patients, the potential risks and benefits should be carefully considered before undergoing the procedure.

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Mercury Vapor Inhalation: Believed to Cure Syphilis and Tuberculosis

Mercury has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2,500 years. Mercury vapor inhalation was believed to be an effective treatment for various diseases such as syphilis and tuberculosis from the 16th to the 19th century. It was thought to work by stimulating the body’s defenses and promoting sweating. Patients were often given mercury to take orally as well as to inhale the vapor. Despite its popularity, the treatment was often ineffective and potentially harmful, with long-term exposure to mercury vapor leading to symptoms such as tremors, irritability, and damage to the nervous system.

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Despite the potential dangers, mercury vapor inhalation was widely used until the 20th century, when safer and more effective treatments for syphilis and tuberculosis were developed. The use of mercury in medicine has since been largely phased out, and the dangers of mercury exposure are now well-known. However, mercury vapor inhalation remains an important part of medical history, highlighting the risks and limitations of medical treatments and the importance of evidence-based medicine.

Atlas Obscura.

Tobacco Enemas: The Bizarre “Cure” for Everything from Headaches to Typhoid

The history of tobacco enemas is a fascinating and bizarre chapter in the evolution of medicine. The practice first gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, during a time when medical treatments were often based on theories and beliefs rather than scientific evidence. It was believed that tobacco smoke could cure a wide range of illnesses, from headaches to typhoid fever. Physicians would administer tobacco smoke through the rectum using a specially designed enema kit, often with dubious results.

Antiquated Antidotes

One of the earliest advocates of tobacco enemas was an eccentric physician named James Graham. Graham believed that tobacco enemas could cure everything from cancer to cholera and touted the treatment as a panacea for all ailments. He even established a “Temple of Health” in London, where he would offer tobacco enemas to his patients, along with other unorthodox treatments, such as electric shocks and hydrotherapy. Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support the practice, tobacco enemas gained popularity in the medical community and were used to treat a variety of conditions, including constipation, respiratory infections, and even drowning. The use of tobacco enemas eventually declined as more effective treatments became available, but their bizarre history continues to fascinate and amuse.