That Was Healthy, and Now It's Deadly: History's Worst Health Claims
by Staff
Once upon a time wombs were thought to wander, tobacco was known as "God's remedy," and eggs were bad for you. Today we know those things aren't true, and many historical health claims weren't just wrong — they were dangerous.

Which of the following treatments is considered one of medicine's oldest remedies?

  • insulin coma therapy
  • bloodletting
  • lobotomy

True or false: Before the College of Physicians was founded in the 16th century, is it true some doctors believed a person could get sick based on the alignment of the planets?

  • true
  • false

Which drug, once a popular prescription NSAID pain reliever, was withdrawn from the market after scientists found it actually caused heart attacks, strokes and death?

  • Vioxx (rofecoxib)
  • Liptruzet (atorvastatin and ezetimibe)
  • Temodar (temozolomide)

There was a time when if you wanted to exfoliate your skin, you could use a product containing tiny plastic beads. Do these products still exist?

  • yes
  • no

In the 18th and 19th centuries, hemiglossectomies, procedures to remove part of the tongue, were commonly performed to correct what problem?

  • oral cancer
  • canker sores
  • stuttering

During the 18th century, what would have been an acceptable treatment for a person with symptoms of a mental illness?

  • ice water baths
  • physical restraints
  • isolation
  • all of these

Which was once a common ingredient in teething relievers?

  • alcohol
  • menthol
  • cannabis

True or false: The Radiendocrinator was meant to treat erectile dysfunction.

  • true
  • false

How old did you have to be to take advantage of the temporary relief of asthma symptoms, bad breath and other cold and allergy symptoms?

  • 6 years old
  • 16 years old
  • 18 years old

How far back can we trace the earliest evidence of opium usage?

  • as far back as 3,400 B.C.E.
  • the 7th century
  • 1729

Got a toothache? Up until 1914, you could buy "toothache drops," which numbed the pain with which active ingredient?

  • cannabis
  • cocaine
  • clove oil

What was a sip of absinthe once thought to cure?

  • scabies
  • roundworms
  • schizophrenia

Mercury was once used as a treatment for which sexually transmitted disease?

  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea
  • syphilis

Which brand of cigarette claimed "more doctors smoke ____ than any other cigarette!"?

  • Camels
  • Old Gold
  • Marlboro

What WASN'T an active ingredient in the "Wizard Oil cure" of 1861?

  • chloroform
  • methamphetamine
  • turpentine

Which spirit was thought to ward off plague?

  • gin
  • whiskey
  • wine

What was the not-so-secret ingredient in Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, made by Charlotte Winslow and marketed by her son-in-law in 1849 in Maine?

  • cannabis
  • morphine
  • nicotine

Before the little blue pill that could, erectile dysfunction was treated with radioactive wax rods that were inserted into what part of the body?

  • the prostate
  • the urethra
  • the rectum

What health condition inspired the name of Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"?

  • arsenic poisoning
  • lead poisoning
  • mercury poisoning

True or false: Bayer once made children's cough and cold treatments with heroin as the active ingredient.

  • true
  • false

What disease was thought to be cured with shark cartilage?

  • cancer
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatoid arthritis

What did some Chinese healers prescribe their patients with the promise of eternal life and the ability to walk on water?

  • a brew of arsenic, mercury and sulfur
  • a brew of arsenic, mercury and "corpse powder"
  • a brew of arsenic, mercury and the herb fang feng

True or false: Drilling holes into your skull, a treatment called trepanning, relieves cranial pressure.

  • true
  • false

Which is one of the few mental health treatments that has received a Nobel Prize?

  • lobotomy
  • electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • deep brain stimulation (DBS)

True or false: Signs of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are signs of demonic possession.

  • true
  • false

Is it true the Romans believed the blood of slain gladiators could cure epilepsy and seizures?

  • true
  • false

Which brand of cigarettes was the first to use the image of a doctor in its marketing campaign?

  • Chesterfield
  • Lucky Strike
  • Pall Mall

What did Roger Bacon, a 13th Century English philosopher and writer on alchemy and medicine, recommend to improve digestion and "defend the body from corruption"?

  • alcohol
  • cannabis
  • wormwood

Finish this 1932 Wall Street Journal headline: "The ____ Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off."

  • Uranium
  • Radium
  • Beryllium

Inspired by American First Nations people who used tobacco medicinally, medical practitioners in 18th-century England began using it in what way?

  • toothpaste
  • pain relief
  • enemas