Ah, death and disease, mankind's greatest obstacles to reaching its full potential. Picture a future where people's bodies were healthy enough to withstand famine, drought, and mutant viruses. Imagine where our technology would be if great scientific minds like Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla were still alive.
Over the last century and more, medical science has certainly tried to help people live longer -- if not forever -- but as Popular Science has witnessed, the greatest advancements in science have occurred only after some trial and error. Unfortunately for the human subjects of the error.
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Less than a century ago, surgeons were still fighting to legitimize hypnotism as a form of anesthesia. And just twenty years prior, acclaimed physicians were injecting their patients' spinal cords with cocaine to see how the substance worked as a painkiller.
As the decades unfolded, physicians grew eager to adapt the latest technology for their own use. Electricity powers buildings -- can it power dying internal organs? Could that mysterious new element, radium, prolong youth for an additional decade? When technology enabled doctors to probe deeper into neurology and the mind, researchers wondered if they could manipulate human nature by eradicating violence and perversion from people's biology.
There was only one way to find out if any of these ideas were possible, and that was through testing. Human testing, to be specific. We checked our archives to see what kind of treatments volunteers actually consented to, and well, we've got to applaud people for their bravery.
That, or patients just didn't know better, so we're thankful we live in the age where people know better than to brush their teeth with radioactive toothpaste.
Click through our gallery to see more examples of strange, now mostly outdated, medical practices. Although most of them are a little creepy, they were all conducted in the name of improving our lives.
I'm so glad medical science has progressed past these barbaric ideas! Morphine, Adderall, and MAOIs, *REAL* science.
Hypnosis is still in use for anesthesia (specially in dentistry) as well as for other treatments in psychology and psychiatry. It has gained respect, not lost it.
The placebo effect is also recognized as valid, as in image #9. Nothing wild about these two.
1. Cocaine can be used as a local anesthetic, but has been replaces by other drugs in the same family, e.g. lidocaine. Did the headache result from the cocaine, or more likely the larger bore needles that cause a spinal fluid leak?
3. Is radiation hormesis real? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis The ingestion isotopes that decay with beta or alpha particles certainly does not approach a low level exposure.
4. UV and Vitamin D - This is again a popular issue with multiple beneficial effects being attributed to Vit D, such as reduction of several types of cancers. Weight gain does not seem to be a problem now days.
5. Surprisingly aberrant glands and “criminal behavior” is not as silly as it initially sounds. In the 1930’s a person with ADHD might be considered a delinquent. An adolescent with normal intelligence and non-diagnosed Grave’s disease could easily be categorized as incorrigible by the legal system. Correcting the hyperthyroidism by surgery would “cure” the “criminal behavior.”
8. Methylene blue is used to treat cyanide poisoning, HCN the poisonous gas. If done quickly enough, this could work.
10. Lobotomy – the only surgical procedure ever to win a Nobel prize. nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/articles/moniz/