People Really Thought These Plague Cures Worked

Powdered Emeralds Powdered emeralds were a supposed cure for the plague that was used during the Renaissance period. The idea behind this treatment was that emeralds… Alexander Gabriel - May 10, 2023

Powdered Emeralds

Powdered emeralds were a supposed cure for the plague that was used during the Renaissance period. The idea behind this treatment was that emeralds were believed to possess certain healing properties. By grinding them into a fine powder, they could be ingested or applied topically to help cure the disease. During the Renaissance, it was believed that the emerald powder would help purify the body and expel toxins. There is no scientific evidence to support the use of emeralds as a cure for any disease, and the practice was likely ineffective. In fact, ingesting or applying emerald powder could have been harmful, as emeralds are a form of beryllium and can be toxic if ingested in large quantities.

Current Affairs


During outbreaks of the bubonic plague, some people engaged in self-flagellation, truly believing this could prevent the disease. This practice involved whipping oneself with a scourge or wearing a cilice, which was a spiked metal belt. Because many had the belief that plagues were punishments from God, it was thought one could atone for their sins and prevent the spread of the disease. Additionally, some people believed that the flagellation would stimulate the immune system and prevent the onset of the disease. Today, we know that diseases are spread by viruses, bacteria, and fungi rather than vengeful dieties.



During the medieval period, dancing was believed to be a cure for the plague. By dancing vigorously and continuously for extended periods, the body would become so physically exhausted that it would purify itself of any impurities. This practice was known as “dancing mania,” and it was particularly prevalent during the Black Death pandemic. While dancing may have provided some temporary relief from the fear and anxiety caused by the plague, it was not an effective treatment for the disease. The practice likely caused more harm than good, as it may have contributed to the spread of the disease by bringing large groups of people into close contact with one another.

The Spruce

Consuming Vinegar

During the medieval period, it was believed that drinking vinegar could cure you of the plague. Vinegar was believed to have strong antiseptic properties that could get rid of diseases. Vinegar was often mixed with herbs and honey. It was typically consumed in very large large quantities. The acetic acid in vinegar can act as a disinfectant, however it was unhelpful in treating anyone of the plague. Consuming large quantities of vinegar could be harmful. Drinking vinegar can cause digestive issues that may lead to ulcers. Vinegar is still used as a common household ingredient for cleaning.

The Statesman

Using the Dung of Various Animals

Throughout history, dung has been used as a remedy for a multitude of ailments. In some cultures, cow or goat dung was applied directly to wounds or skin infections, as it was believed to have antibacterial properties. In ancient Egypt, animal dung was used as a poultice to treat eye infections and skin diseases. Dried and powdered dung was used in traditional medicine to treat digestive problems like diarrhea and constipation. It was not uncommon for dung to also be used as a cure for the plague, although it was wholly ineffective. While the use of dung as a medicine may seem strange, there is some scientific evidence to support its use. For example, some studies have found that certain compounds in cow dung have antibacterial properties.

Medical News Today

Arsenic Amulets

Arsenic, a toxic chemical, was widely used throughout history in the form of amulets or bracelets to cure various diseases. It was believed that wearing these amulets would prevent and cure illnesses like the plague, smallpox, and syphilis. The practice was prevalent in Europe, particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries. The amulets were often worn by children. Unfortunately, the use of arsenic as a medical treatment was extremely dangerous and often fatal. Arsenic poisoning can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and even death.

The Counter

Rubbing a Chicken on Your Body

In the past, some cultures held the belief that rubbing a live chicken on the body can cure or prevent the plague. This practice is known as “live chicken therapy” or “chicken rubbing.” It was believed that the chicken’s feathers and claws can absorb disease from the body, which can then be transferred to the chicken. Some people also believed that the chicken’s blood could act as a healing agent. The practice is still prevalent in parts of Africa and is used to treat a wide range of illnesses, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. However, it can be dangerous. Rubbing a chicken on the body can spread disease and can also lead to injuries from the chicken’s claws.


Blowing Smoke Up the Rectum

During the 17th century, some doctors believed that blowing tobacco smoke into the rectum could cure the plague. This practice, known as “tobacco smoke enema“, involved inserting a tube into the rectum and blowing tobacco smoke into it. It was believed that the smoke would purify the blood and cure the disease. The use of tobacco smoke enema was not limited to the treatment of the plague but was also used to treat other conditions like colic and respiratory ailments. While it is true that tobacco has some medicinal properties, the use of tobacco smoke enema was dangerous and often resulted in burns and other injuries.

The New York Times

Toad’s Breath

The Washington Post

Mixing Buboes with Pigeon Blood

During the medieval period, the mixing of pus and blood from the buboes with the blood of a live pigeon was touted as a miraculous plague cure. The treatment involved cutting open the buboes of the infected person and mixing the pus and blood with the bird’s blood. The bird was then released, and subsequently the infected person would recover. As grisly as this may seem, it wasn’t an uncommon treatment for that time period. The use of live bird treatment is now regarded as a bizarre and dangerous medical treatment, and it is no longer practiced.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Onions Absorbed “Bad” Air

During the outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 14th century, onions were thought to have healing properties. People of the era believed that the strong smell of onions would purify the air and prevent the spread of the disease. Onions were often placed in bowls around the house to absorb the “bad” air. Some also believed that eating onions could help cure the disease. While onions do have some medicinal properties, there is no current evidence to support the idea that they can cure the plague. Nonetheless, the use of onions as a remedy for the plague is still a popular folk remedy in some cultures.


Using Snakes

The practice of using snakes as a medical treatment involved placing live snakes on the buboes, the painful swellings caused by the plague. In the middle ages, it was believed that the snakes would suck out the poison and heal the infected area. The skin and venom of some snake species were also thought to have some healing properties. Today, some components of snake venom have been found to have therapeutic potential and are being studied as treatments for conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.

Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources: