If you really want to see how the science in the health of the human body has moved on, just keep on reading some of the crazy things that people thought would cure their illnesses years ago…
Diet supplements and vitamin pills are not a new thing – In the past medicines that promised to cure all sorts of illnesses were widely available from pharmacies all over Britain – but their ingredients are certainly not what you would consider a cure! Doctor James Fever Powder, for example was a hugely popular cure for a wide range of ailments, including fever (of course) and even ailments such as scurvy in cattle! It first appeared on shelves around 1746 and was used for centuries, well into the 20th century. Nobody really knew what was in it exactly, or how it was made as it was a closely guarded secret, but it did contain antimony and ammonia, in large – and toxic – quantities – so has unsurprisingly disappeared from the world of medicine! Godfrey’s cordial is another example of a medicine which caused more problems than it solved – claiming to cure babies with wind, it probably did the job short term – as it contained opium. Unsurprisingly, this stuff could be fatal and didn’t stand the test of time!
Another field which has come on in leaps and bounds is dentistry – once the evening job of the local blacksmith, you would be lucky to come out alive and infection-free! Oyster shells ground up were often used to clean teeth – which ended up scraping all of the enamel off the tooth and causing infection, pain and tooth loss! This was all done in Victorian times without painkillers – until chloroform was introduced – which was just one more thing that could kill you! Understandably, many people just opted to have all of their teeth removed rather than go through all that! Nowadays of course, you can do pretty much anything you like with your teeth safely and properly – Docklands dental experts in clear braces can even straighten teeth invisibly – something which the Victorians could never even have dreamed of!
Before the vaccination was invented by Edward Jenner, tuberculosis killed many people in Britain – and the cure? Well, there was no cure, but a diet of port and jelly was given to soothe the victim in their final days. Other (poisonous!) chemicals used to cure diseases included mercury, arsenic and phosphorus! So in other words, be glad that times have moved on from all of that – many of the diseases have been eradicated and dentistry is no longer a life or death scenario!