6 Medical Practices of the Middle Ages and Their Efficacy (or Not)

The history of the Middle Ages and medicine intersect. This period is full of stories that seem like they could only exist in a movie script, in the script of a fiction book, or in the minds of somewhat disturbed people. A good example of this are the medical practices that we bring in this text.

At a time when health care was something much less accessible than it is today, many bizarre ideas were put into practice. However, you will notice that not everything is so absurd that it could not work. Discover 6 of these “alternative” treatments.

1. Bleeding

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

No, the typical Spanish drink was not a medieval medical practice. The bloodletting we are talking about was a form of medical treatment in which blood was taken from the patient in order to cure certain diseases. Phlebotomy, the cutting of veins, was the most used method during the Middle Ages.

Its objective was the search for a humoral balance – a theory created by Hippocrates that defended that the human body was composed of four substances, called humors. The disease would be the imbalance between these substances, which would resume from bleeding. is/was effective? Not.

2. Pharmacy

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The history of pharmacy is complex and long, but a fundamental part of its development took place in the Middle Ages. Botica were the medicines prescribed by the apothecary, a profession that united medicine and pharmacy. It was Frederick II, Emperor of Prussia, who officially separated the two areas, even creating the first code of ethics.

Although many of the aforementioned medicines were ineffective or dangerous, many medicinal properties of objects were discovered at this time and are used to this day. is/was effective? Yup.

3. Astrology

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not a Twitter meme: during the Middle Ages, some doctors used the zodiac signs to diagnose their patients and, in this way, treat some diseases.

It was thought that celestial bodies could influence the development of problems in some organs of the body, an idea that has already been refuted by scientific society, but which still finds echo today. is/was effective? Not.

4. Uroscopy

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Middle Ages may have had some strange behaviors, but the act of examining patients’ urine was a practice that has continued to this day. At that time, this was done so that the doctor could detect if there was something wrong with the examined body.

Doctors paid attention to the color, smell and consistency of urine, prescribing medication according to what was interpreted there. Well, we can say that this was the precursor of the modern urine tests done until today by medicine. is/was effective? Yup.

5. Spells

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

There were wizards and sorcerers who were very close to the courts and aristocracy of the Middle Ages. They were responsible for creating spells, products and substances, mixing elements that even had medicinal effects with others that were unhealthy or unhealthy.

In some cases, these “drugs” even had positive effects on patients. Patients had “calming” symptoms, but most of the time it was a giant placebo. is/was effective? Not.

6. Theriaque

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Theriaque can’t even find a translation in Portuguese. It was a practice created in Ancient Greece and perpetuated throughout the Middle Ages. It was a kind of medicine in which extracts of different plants were mixed with viper meat and other substances.

As absurd as it may seem, theriaque was known as a powerful antidote to poisons, which made it believed to be viable in curing other health problems. It was the kind of product that only fell into the hands of those who had a lot of money, since it was something very expensive. is/was effective? Not.

About Jenni Smith

She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

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