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Five squeamish and gruesome medical cures for Halloween

Monday, October 31st, 2016 | Blog

It’s that time of the year again; decorations are up, tricks are being prepared and treats are at the ready, and everyone is dressing up like the super heroes they wish they could be and monsters they hope they will never see.


Years gone by though, monsters weren’t the only things people hoped they would never see; all year round treatments for illnesses, conditions and even the common cold were frightening and gruesome! With squirming and screaming the trend for tonight, we decided there was no better time to share some of these slightly less pleasant remedies with you all!

Dirty Socks Cure Bad Throats

In 18th century England, things were pretty weird in the world of medical care; electrocution was seen as a cure for mental illness and opium was famed for its medicinal uses. People also used to tie their dirty socks around their necks in an attempt to cure a sore throat. Not smelly or odd enough though, people would often be found with a little bacon in with their socks - for extra therapeutic effect. What the scientific logic was behind this is unknown, but at least people probably stayed well away from you!

Vomit everything away

Throughout early medical history there is one consistent theme, vomiting cures illness. People believed there were four core body chemicals; black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. If you had too much black or yellow bile, you needed to vomit. If you had been bitten by a snake, you needed to vomit. Got a mental illness of some kind? You needed to vomit. The list goes on. There was not often any scientific reasoning behind the need to vomit, but many people believed it was the best way to expel the illness within you.

Mercury cures everything

Modern medicine allows us some pretty awesome insights, one such insight is how toxic mercury is to the human body. Mercury was discovered as early as the Ancient Egyptian era, for hundreds of years humans believed mercury had excellent healing benefits, with it being recommended for a variety of illnesses. Luckily scientists wised up to the incredibly negative effects that mercury had on the body.

Moldy Bread

Before the invention of penicillin, the world of antibacterial medicine was an odd one. In ancient Egypt, moldy bread was seen as the best forms of fighting off an infectio. This is because mold comes from the same family of bacteria as penicillin, so at least there’s a slight logic to it, but the strand that makes up penicillin is far different to the bacteria found in mold, meaning that whenever a person was told to apply moldy bread to an infected area, it likely did nothing.

Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup

During the 1700s, syrups, lozenges and powders were all the rage. Think of an illness and there was likely someone selling a miracle cure for it; there was one big problem though, there was no kind of medical screening for products of this nature. This meant people could pretty much produce these cures in anyway they please One perfect example of this was Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup; if you had an unruly child that didn’t listen to reason or authority, slip them some of the Soothing Syrup and they will soon calm down. In theory this is great, what’s not so great was the ingredients used to produce the syrup; outing an unhealthy concoction of addictive drugs (including 65 milligrams of morphine per bottle), the product was swiftly taken off shelves during the early 1900s when people realised this wasn’t actually a very good idea.


So there’s five very weird and gruesome  cures from the medical archives that probably made you squeam a little. Are there any weird cures you know of? Please comment and tell us what things you were told to use as a cure when you were younger, or perhaps more recently.


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