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If You Can Get 100% On This Quiz You Might Be A Mad Scientist

Featuring leeches, pelvic douches, and creative hemorrhoid cures!

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The history of modern medicine is fascinating.

But do you know about all the wacky shit doctors did through the ages in the name of advancing science (and, of course, their money and reps)?

Well, now's your chance to test your knowledge of all the weird and ill-advised remedies, tools, and theories actual doctors of yesteryear tried in their practice of medicine. The information in this quiz is taken from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen.Let's see how much you know!
Getty Images

Well, now's your chance to test your knowledge of all the weird and ill-advised remedies, tools, and theories actual doctors of yesteryear tried in their practice of medicine. The information in this quiz is taken from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways To Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen.

Let's see how much you know!

  1. 1.

    Which of the following was taken in small doses in the 19th century as an energy drink?
    Quackery, Workman Publishing / “Mrs. Winslow Soothing Syrup” from the Walter Havinghurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries, Oxford, Ohio
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Hemp seeds
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Strychnine
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Bleach
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Strychnine

    Strychnine has been used since Medieval times as a poison — a high dose causes severe muscle spasms and eventually asphyxiation. However, when taken in tiny doses, the authors say, it zings the nervous system in kind of the same way caffeine does. So it was basically Victorian-era Red Bull. Seriously: In 1896 one medical student wrote about micro-dosing with strychnine while cramming for an exam; he took about 0.02 ounces and experienced a near-fatal overdose. In conclusion: Stick with coffee.

  2. 2.

    Which of the following was NOT a doctor-approved cigarette tagline?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "Doctors report: Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels!"
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating!"
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "Give your throat a vacation...smoke a fresh cigarette!"
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "More doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"
    Correct
    Incorrect
    None of the above/they're all real.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"

    In 1955, when more than 50% of the adult male population smoked, physicians' recommendations were cigarette brands' go-to advertising strategy. You can read more about that here.

    "Doctors agree: Your lungs will thank you for Pall Malls!"
    Via Twitter: @stephpaterik
  3. 3.

    What have doctors used cocaine for?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Painkiller for toothaches
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Anesthetic for dental surgery
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Anesthetic for eye surgery
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Hemorrhoids
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct
    Incorrect
    None of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Cocaine has been used as a topical anesthetic during eye surgery, as a numbing agent for dental surgery, as a suppository for hemorrhoids, and as drops for toothaches. Remember, cocaine is a schedule II drug the DEA says has "limited medical usage!," so definitely stick to Motrin.

    All of the above
    Via Quackery, Workman Publishing, public domain
  4. 4.

    What is a bezoar?
    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A metal tool used to slice open the abdomen to remove poisonous material from a person's stomach before it could be digested
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A small ball made of earth, red clay, and arsenic, which, when rubbed on a wound, was thought to have antiseptic properties
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A mass made of undigested food, plant matter, or hair found in an animal's digestive tract that was thought to be an antidote to deadly poisons
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A wooden buckle thought to prevent toxic humors from circulating throughout the body
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A mass made of undigested food, plant matter, or hair found in an animals digestive tract that was thought to be an antidote to deadly poisons

    According to the authors, people believed that undigested matter from the digestive tracts of deer, porcupines, fish, and humans could be made into small stones that could counteract deadly poisons when swallowed. Probs a better call to just let the poison do its thing tbh. :(

  5. 5.

    In ancient Rome, tonsures were people who cut hair and trimmed nails and calluses. What were their other responsibilities?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Yanking bad teeth and boil drainage
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Bloodletting and leeching
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Amputations
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Tonsures were barber-surgeons. Yup, spa day in ancient Rome meant getting a fresh one, softer hands and feet, and some good old-fashioned blood loss/major surgery. IDK about you but I like my barbers to be barbers and my surgeons to be surgeons.

  6. 6.

    What did a 17th century physician recommend as a cure for lovesickness?
    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Public Domain
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Getting your stomach pumped
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Having your blood let to the point of heart failure
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Having your shoulder broken and re-set
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Being dunked in ice-cold water repeatedly
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Having your blood let to the point of heart failure

    The authors explain that Jacques Ferrand wrote a book on the surgical cures for lovesickness, one of which included bloodletting to the point of heart failure. FFS, eat a poundcake and listen to "Unbreak My Heart" like the rest of us!

  7. 7. What kind of surgery is happening in this painting from 1475?

    Hieronymus Bosch / commons.wikimedia.org
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Lobotomy
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Trepanning, aka creating a hole in the skull
    Correct
    Incorrect
    "15th century haircut," aka scalping
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Leucotomy, aka removing some of the brain's white matter
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Trepanning, aka creating a hole in the skull

    What's pictured above is trepanning, or creating a hole in the skull in order to do anything from removing a clot or even pieces of skull after a fracture to relieving pressure. In this painting, which is called Cutting the Stone, the trepanning is being performed in order to remove a stone that was thought to reside inside the head, causing "madness, idiocy, and dementia," according to the authors. Bonus question: Why is the surgeon wearing a funnel on his head and the onlooker wearing a book on hers?

  8. 8.

    Which of the following was a cure for hemorrhoids in the 4th century?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cold water enemas
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cauterizing them with a hot iron
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Massaging them until their irritating properties were released
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Cauterizing them with a hot iron

    Sorry to make you think about this, but according to the authors, Hippocrates used a red hot iron to cauterize hemorrhoids. :(

  9. 9.

    And what did Hippocrates recommend the patient apply to the ~affected area~ after his treatment?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A poultice of cooled mud
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A poultice of lentils and vegetables
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Olive oil
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Wine
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Any of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A poultice of lentils and vegetables

    The authors say that Hippocrates recommended applying vegetables and lentils to the anus after your hemorrhoid treatment. Go plant-based or go home!

  10. 10.

    Enemas were a super popular medical treatment in the late 1800s. Which of the following was an actual commercial enema product?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cascading anus cleanser
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Internal fountain bath
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Interior soaking spray
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Inner cleansing geyser
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Internal fountain bath

    The authors explain that enemas were a popular treatment due to the belief in "autointoxication" — that the waste inside our bowels is poisoning us from within and the only way to avoid the many health problems it caused would be enemas. Lots of enemas. Fortunately, we know now that unless you're directed to by your doctor, you really don't need to do enema after enema (after enema) to keep yourself healthy. In fact, you probably shouldn't...

  11. 11.

    What was a pelvic douche used for?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    To wash the genitals and prevent infection
    Correct
    Incorrect
    To cure hysteria by giving women an orgasm
    Correct
    Incorrect
    To cure hysteria by numbing the clitoris
    Correct
    Incorrect
    To relieve incontinence by stimulating the urethra
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    To cure hysteria by giving women an orgasm

    The pelvic douche was "a high-pressure water jet aimed at the genitals" in order to cure hysteria in women, explain the authors. In 1843 a French doctor explained that it creates "so agreeable a sensation" that it was important to limit each treatment to four or five minutes. OK, I can see this curing what ails you tbh.

  12. 12.

    Dr. Robert Liston was a surgeon in 1840s Scotland whose claim to fame was how fast he could complete an amputation. Which of the following was collateral damage from his surgeries?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A patient whose testicle was accidentally sliced off
    Correct
    Incorrect
    His assistant, whose fingers were accidentally cut off
    Correct
    Incorrect
    An onlooker, who dropped dead when Dr. Liston's knife almost slashed him
    Correct
    Incorrect
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All of the above

    Dr. Liston was so well-known for his lightning-quick amputations, the authors say, that spectators would gather in the galleries to watch. But his speed came at a bit of a price, precision-wise. He once accidentally sliced off a patient's testicle. In another surgery he accidentally amputated the fingers of his assistant (who was holding the patient's leg in place and later died of gangrene), and in that same procedure his knife came so close to a spectator that he (the spectator) dropped dead "of terror." Not a great batting average for the good doctor.

  13. 13.

    How was nitrous oxide (laughing gas) discovered to be a sedative?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A physician gave it to a patient thinking it was oxygen and the patient fell into a prolonged deep sleep
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A neurosurgeon used it as an anesthetic for trepanning patient
    Correct
    Incorrect
    A dentist inhaled it before pulling out his own tooth
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Medical students were using it recreationally when one of them huffed too much and fell into a deep sleep from which he couldn't be awakened
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A dentist inhaled it before pulling out his own tooth

    In 1844, an American dentist by the name of Horace Wells pulled out his own tooth while under nitrous oxide's influence and discovered he felt no pain. He went on to develop an apparatus that allowed patients to breathe it in before surgery. Voilà!

  14. 14.

    What 19th century anesthetic was the secret ingredient in cough syrup and lozenges?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cocaine
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Chloroform
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Strychnine
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Ether
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Chloroform

    in the 19th century, a physician found that inhaling chloroform caused giddiness and heavy limbs, followed by unconsciousness. This made it seem like a great candidate for anesthesia and it was used before surgery as well as recreationally. Because it was a great numbing agent, it was later used in cough syrups and lozenges. Unfortunately chloroform turned out to also be lethal, and once a few too many healthy patients died from inhaling it, doctors stopped using it as a sedative. Good call!

  15. 15.

    In the 19th century, leeches were placed near the area of a medical problem so they could suck blood from the appropriate area. Where were leeches placed to treat menstrual cramps?
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Anywhere on the pelvis was acceptable
    Correct
    Incorrect
    On the lower right abdomen, or the "womb quadrant"
    Correct
    Incorrect
    On the vulva or cervix
    Correct
    Incorrect
    On the temples as physicians believed that menstrual cramps were a psychosomatic afflication
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    On the vulva or cervix

    Bad news, gang. According to the authors, leeches were placed on the upper thighs as well as on the vulva and sometimes on the cervix to treat menstrual cramps. Yikes.

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