Quiz: Can You Match the Historical Remedy with the Illness?

Doctors don't always know best, especially when you’re in 16th century England.
Figure it out, stat!
Figure it out, stat! / PhotoAlto/Eric Audras/Getty Images (stethoscope), Vadim Almiev/Shutterstock (illustrated scrolls)

Medical care has come a long way over the centuries. What once struck us down in the prime of our lives—infections, wounds, bad shellfish—is now easily treatable. But in order to arrive at effective treatments, medicine often had to rely on highly experimental advice. If the disease didn’t kill you, the remedy might.

See if you can match the historical remedy to the illness or ailment it was trying (and usually failing) to treat.

While past cures may seem quaint today, at least they were earnest attempts to heal the sick. It’s a little harder to understand quacks like Simon Forman and Richard Napier. The 16th- and 17th-century England health “experts” advocated for such therapies as donning dead pigeons as shoes and having new mothers nurse puppies for better breastfeeding. Their treatments seemed less like medicine and more like seeing what unfathomable nonsense they could convince people to do.

Victorian cures were hardly better. Chickenpox got you down? Try some laxatives. Alcoholism? Some cocaine should help. While controversial remedies still persist, not even alternative medicine would suggest putting tissue from goat testicles into human scrotums to cure impotence, as “Goat Gland Doctor” John R. Brinkley once did.

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