Ketchup As Medicine?

In the late 1830s, Dr. Archibald Miles claimed to have extracted a substance from tomatoes to help ailments such as diarrhea and indigestion. The pills named “Dr. Miles’ Compound Extract of Tomato” were later declared a hoax.

Ecstasy Therapy?


The drug MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) dates back to the early 20th century. During the 1970s, some psychiatrists even suggested using the drug for psychotherapy. Even though the drug is now controlled, proponents of ecstasy therapy have reemerged in recent years.

Radium Therapy?

An advertisement that touts preparing radioactive drinking water at home was one of many promotions for radiation therapy around 1913. Now radium is understood to be a health hazard–for example, long-term exposure increases the risk of developing several diseases.



Throughout history, bloodletting (sometimes with the aid of a leech) was practiced to both cure and prevent illness. But this treatment wasn’t all bad–medical leeches are now sometimes suggested to help with blood circulation or draining blood during surgeries.

Mummy Powder?

Across medieval Europe and the Middle East, corpses were ground into powder and used as medicine. This “mummy powder” was thought to cure common ailments, such as headaches and stomach ulcers.

Mercury To Treat Syphilis?

Mercury was used as a treatment for syphilis until the early 20th century. Side effects of such mercury treatments could include tooth loss, ulcerations, neurological damage or even death.

Shark Cartilage To Treat Cancer?

The suggestion of using shark cartilage to treat cancer emerged around the 1950s, stemming from research by Dr. John Prudden. But recent studies have found no health effects in taking shark cartilage, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Soothing Syrup?

Mrs. Winslow’s “soothing syrup” was a popular formula that emerged in the late 1800s to help ease the teething process for young children. What was in this special syrup? Alcohol and morphine sulfate. The syrup was taken off the market in the 1930s.