Strange Healthcare Facts from History

As the saying goes: “fact is stranger than fiction.” Here is a list of four medical practices from the not-too-distant past that may give your funny bone a tickle.

1)            In the 19th and early 20th centuries, cocaine was marketed to parents as a pain remedy for children’s toothaches. Suddenly the practice of contemporary dentists giving kids lollipops doesn’t seem too bad.

2)            Another great medically approved practice for treating your children in the 19th century was the “Soothing Syrup.” These products were sold as way to calm unruly or hyperactive children.   Good in theory, but in practice these syrups generally contained significant amounts of narcotics including chloroform, cannabis derivatives and opiate derivatives up to and including morphine and HEROIN. If that doesn’t soothe your child, nothing will.

3)            Speaking of heroin: did you know it was once marketed as a cough remedy? More specifically, a form of heroin called Heroin Hydrochloride was developed in the late 19th century as a cough suppressant by the good people at Bayer. Yes, that is the same Bayer that now makes Aspirin.

4)            The shift to heroin represents an escalation in our warfare against the cough. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, we merely relied on tobacco. Doctors noticed that smoking cigarettes often led to coughing that produced a significant amount of phlegm. Mistakenly, they believed that the mucus was already present and that the cigarette smoke simply helped to get it out. So, cigarettes were actually prescribed by doctors as a way to clear out your lungs.

We can look back on these practices today and laugh. However, it does make you wonder what people will think of our modern medical miracles in another century or two.

Post by: Garrett Curler, PROCare PT’s VPO