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Top 10 Bizarre Medical Treatments

by Jamie Frater
fact checked by Alex Hanton

We have run the gamut of bizarre diseases and and even surgical treatments, but we have not yet published a list of bizarre non-surgical medical treatments. So today we are able to add this list to the many other medical related lists on listverse. The requirement for entry on this list is that the treatment must still be in use today; this excludes such treatments as bloodletting – or does it? We have also excluded surgical treatments as they appear on this list.


Sweat Therapy


Sweat therapy is the combination of group counseling/psychotherapy with group sweating. Group sweating is social interaction while experiencing psychophysiological responses to heat exposure. Group sweating has strong cultural validity as it has existed throughout the world for thousands of years to promote well-being. Examples include the Finnish Sauna, the Russian Banya (sauna), the American Indian Sweat lodge Ceremony, the Islamic Hammam, the Japanese Mushi-Buro or Sent?, and the African Sifutu. Group sweating has been used for various physical and mental purposes for thousands of years. It has been asserted that the potential health benefits of regular participation in Native American sweat lodges are numerous, but that there is a scarcity of research about the practice.



Terramin Clay On Toothbrush

We are all familiar with the use of clay in health resorts where people bathe in it to improve skin conditions, but what many people don’t know is that clay (or mud) is also used in internal medicines. It is sometimes used as a coating on pills but it is also consumed in larger doses for the treatment of bowel disorders. Even NASA uses clay treatments: “The effects of weightlessness on human body were studied by NASA back in the 1960s. Experiments demonstrated that weightlessness leads to a rapid bone depletion, so various remedies were sought to counter that. A number of pharmaceutical companies were asked to develop calcium supplements, but apparently none of them were as effective as clay. The special clay that was used in this case was Terramin, a reddish clay found in California. Dr. Benjamin Ershoff of the California Polytechnic Institute demonstrated that the consumption of clay counters the effects of weightlessness.” [Source]




Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock, is a well-established, albeit controversial, psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. Today, ECT is most often used as a treatment for severe major depression which has not responded to other treatment, and is also used in the treatment of mania (often in bipolar disorder), catatonia and schizophrenia. It was first introduced in the 1930s and gained widespread use as a form of treatment in the 1940s and 1950s; today, an estimated 1 million people worldwide receive ECT every year, usually in a course of 6–12 treatments administered 2 or 3 times a week. Most, but not all, published reviews of the literature have concluded that ECT is effective in the treatment of depression.




Dousing is the practice of making something or someone wet by throwing liquid over them, e.g., by pouring water, generally cold, over oneself. Cold water dousing is used to “shock” the body into a kind of fever. The body’s reaction is similar to the mammalian diving reflex or possibly temperature biofeedback. Several meditative and awareness techniques seem to share similar effects with elevated temperature, such as Tummo. Compare cold water dousing with ice swimming. The effects of dousing are usually more intense and longer lasting than just a cold shower. Ending a shower with cold water is an old naturopathic tradition. There are those who believe that this fever is helpful in killing harmful bacteria and leaving the hardier beneficial bacteria in the body.
Steam may be seen to rise off of the body, especially when dousing in wintertime.


Urine Therapy

Testing Urine 2 445

The term urine therapy (also urotherapy, urinotherapy or uropathy) refers to various applications of human urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes, including drinking of one’s own urine and massaging one’s skin with one’s own urine. A practitioner of urine therapy is sometimes called a psychopath. Just kidding, they are actually called uropaths. There is no scientific evidence of a therapeutic use for urine. Urinating on jellyfish stings is a common folk remedy, but has no beneficial effect and may be counterproductive, as it can activate nematocysts remaining at the site of the sting. Urine does contain substances that are beneficial, such as Vitamin C; however, these substances have been excreted because they could not be used or because they were present in excess, so re-taking them will just result in re-excretion. The most obvious physiological effect of drinking urine, at least when it is taken on an empty stomach, is bowel movement (sometimes in the form of diarrhea) due to the laxative action of hypertonic solution of urea.




Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often considerable quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. It was the most common medical practice performed by doctors from antiquity up to the late 19th century, a time span of almost 2,000 years. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the historical use of bloodletting was harmful to patients. But, bloodletting has not died a death – it is still one of the most effective treatments of excess iron in the bloodstream and for treatment of excess red blood cells which can occur in diseases such as porphyria. In the old method, the patient was cut and a suction cup was placed over the wound to draw out blood. In modern times syringes are used.


Leech Therapy


Medicinal leeches are now making a comeback in microsurgery. They provide an effective means to reduce blood coagulation, relieve venous pressure from pooling blood, and in reconstructive surgery to stimulate circulation in reattachment operations for organs with critical blood flow, such as eye lids, fingers, and ears. The therapeutic effect is not from the blood taken in the meal, but from the continued and steady bleeding from the wound left after the leech has detached. The most common complication from leech treatment is prolonged bleeding, which can easily be treated, although allergic reactions and bacterial infections may also occur. Devices called “mechanical leeches” have been developed which dispense heparin and perform the same function as medicinal leeches, but they are not yet commercially available.


Helminthic Therapy


Helminthic therapy, a type of Immunotherapy, is the treatment of autoimmune diseases and immune disorders by means of deliberate infestation with parasitic worms (helminths) or their eggs. This is such a cure-all that it is also occasionally used in the treatment of hay fever and asthma. Depending on the particular autoimmune disease in question, infection with helminths can result in remission of symptoms in as high as approximately 70% of patients. The worms are administered via oral doses which are taken repeatedly over a course of weeks and can result in some fairly severe side-effects. Some patients can receive up to eight doses of 2500 worm eggs over the course of their treatment.


Fecal Bacteriotherapy

800Px-E Coli At 10000X, Original

Fecal bacteriotherapy is used in the treatment of certain inflammatory bowel disorders such as ulcerative colitis. The treatment comes in form of a series of enemas given to the patient over a five day period. In order to create the liquid used in the enema, a “poop donor” is needed. In other words, a sample of poop is taken from a healthy person (usually a relative of the patient) and turned into a liquid for anal insertion. The idea is that the healthy bacteria from the poop provider will grow in the sick person and heal them. What is perhaps even more revolting than an enema of someone else’s poop, is the fact that the liquid can also be delivered via a tube in the nose.




For centuries doctors prescribed smoking for a variety of ills and while this does still happen (though the doctor’s generally don’t want it publicized) the numbers of doctors who do this has become extremely small. Research with regard to neurological diseases, evidence suggests that the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease might be 50% lower in smokers, compared to non-smokers. Nicotine has also been found to improve ADHD symptoms and appears to have effects in the brain that are similar to those of stimulants. Although such findings should certainly not encourage anyone to smoke, some studies are focusing on benefits of nicotine therapy in adults with ADHD. Recent studies suggest that smokers require less frequent repeated revascularization after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Risk of ulcerative colitis has been frequently shown to be reduced by smokers on a dose-dependent basis; the effect is eliminated if the individual stops smoking.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Text is derived from Wikipedia.

fact checked by Alex Hanton
Jamie Frater

Jamie is the founder of Listverse. When he’s not doing research for new lists or collecting historical oddities, he can be found in the comments or on Facebook where he approves all friends requests!

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