5 Creepy Remedies From The Nightmarish Annals Of Medical History

Published October 30, 2017

From the sun ray to the skin tube, these haunting vintage medical treatments actually inspired techniques still in use today.

The history of medicine is overflowing with bizarre remedies and curious cures (cocaine for congestion, anyone?). However, many of the strange solutions of yesteryear actually paved the way for modern medical treatments in use today.

Below, take a look at five of the creepiest medical treatments of decades past.

The Sun Ray

Photo Therapy Blue Light

Internet Archive Book ImagesEarly experimentation with light therapy. Circa 1900s.

The healing power of the sun has been recognized and appreciated since Incas were engineering aqueducts and the ancient Greeks were pondering existence. But it was only when Faroese-Danish physician Niels Finsen discovered that light radiation can help treat lupus vulgaris in the 1890s that modern phototherapy was born.

The technology took off, and for much of the first half of the twentieth century, light therapy was prescribed for everything from varicose ulcers to chest infections and anemia.

Sickly children were the most popular patients for the now-controversial remedy, resulting in striking photos of semi-nude kids encircling glowing orbs like possessed child-demons at séances.

Sun Therapy

Fox Photos/Getty ImagesA child wearing goggles and held by a nurse undergoes sun ray treatment at Cheyne Hospital for Children. London. 1928.

Phototherapy was rendered mostly obsolete with the popularization of antibiotics in the 1960s (and the realization that, you know, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light causes skin cancer), but it is still used today to treat jaundice in newborns and some skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.