Medicine in the 21st Century is based on scientific knowledge. Practices we use now have been reached by a wealth of knowledge gained over many years, tests and experiments and the study of data. So, when you realise what practices were used as little as 50 or 60 years ago, it seems amazing that we’ve come so far ever since! It also makes you thank God you weren’t alive in those times, for the treatment may have been worse than the illness. Try our quiz and see if you can guess which practices are fact and which are fiction. Medical Practices from the Past We’ve come a long way over the years and previous ideas of health and disease spawned some treatments we now find ludicrous. Can you determine whether these medical practices are fact or fiction? In the late 1800s and early 1900s, children who were difficult to control were given “syrups” containing morphine, as well as heroin, opium and cannabis. In 1954, a new treatment for insomnia was given the go ahead. It included suffocating the patient until they were on the verge of passing out. Doctors believed the body would enjoy the feeling of being almost unconscious and the process would relax the limbs, thus forcing the patient to slip into sleep. In Ancient Egypt, those with broken bones were treated to “new bones” by taking slaves and cutting out theirs in an attempt to insert them into the patient’s body as a replacement. Ancient Babylonian’s would sleep by a human skull for a week to cure ilnnesses they thought had been brought on by a spirit or demonic force. To ensure it worked, they’d have to kiss and lick the skull seven times each night. Romans would drink the blood of gladiators to make them strong and cure things like epilepsy. In the 1920s the feet of chimpanzees were attached to children who had malformed or amputated feet. The survival rate was low. In the mid-19th Century, there came a movement in treating the mentally ill by spinning them in a chair until they passed out. The theory was that conditions such as schizophrenia would be cured by the spinning as it shuffled the contents of the brain and induced sleep, which was all curing. A healing tonic containing wine and cocaine was popular in the mid 1800s. To marry young and bear as many children as possible was the prevention technique of a “wandering womb”, which was thought to cause a number of diseases in a woman. From Ancient Egypt, right up to Elizabethan times, mice were used to treat toothache, by holding one in the mouth. Ancient Eyptians drank the tears of children to keep their spirit youthful for the afterlife. In the early 20th century, to cure mental illness, a lobotomy was seen as the best treatment. Maleria was given to patients with syphillis. Drink your medicine! Yikes! We’re not impressed. You need to polish up your knowledge on medical practices. Some of them are bizarre though, so we’ll forgive you for your lack of awareness. Nurse yourself better. Not too bad! Pay more attention to your intake of medical knowledge and you’ll be better in no time. Doctor who? Doctor you! Very good! You know your fact from your fiction. Keep up the good work! You’re on the track to medical mastery! Eye-opening hospital work experience International hospital shadowing for school and university students Find out more You might also be interested in ... The Future of Medical Technology INFOGRAPHIC The best resources for UKCAT practice Doctor salary: how much does a doctor earn?