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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!

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)?

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. 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! 
    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. Which of the following was NOT a doctor-approved cigarette tagline?

    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.

    Via Twitter: @stephpaterik
  3. What have doctors used cocaine for?

    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.

    Via Quackery, Workman Publishing, public domain
  4. What is a bezoar?

    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
    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. In ancient Rome, tonsures were people who cut hair and trimmed nails and calluses. What were their other responsibilities?

    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. What did a 17th century physician recommend as a cure for lovesickness?

    Quackery, Workman Publishing / Public Domain
    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! 
    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. Which of the following was a cure for hemorrhoids in the 4th century?

    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. And what did Hippocrates recommend the patient apply to the ~affected area~ after his treatment?

    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. Enemas were a super popular medical treatment in the late 1800s. Which of the following was an actual commercial enema product?

    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. What was a pelvic douche used for?

    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. 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! 
    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. How was nitrous oxide (laughing gas) discovered to be a sedative?

    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. What 19th century anesthetic was the secret ingredient in cough syrup and lozenges?

    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. 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! 
    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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