Aug 11 2010
Check out this photo gallery of strange medical treatments (the title says “unorthodox cures” which is begging the question – do they cure anything). Seeing a photo of a treatment being given has more impact than just reading a description.
My favorite is the woman with smoking sticks jammed in her ears. This is a form of moxibustion, often mixed with acupuncture. I couldn’t find an explanation for the walnut in the eye.
I have covered bee venom therapy before.
I was also very interested in the cupping picture from Hebron. This is a good example of modern bloodletting, which I have also written about recently. This one pictures conveys a few interesting points. The first is that bloodletting is alive and well – it did not disappear with the advent of science-based medicine in the West. Further, it shows that bloodletting was not isolated to Western cultures. It spread through the Mideast and into the far east, including China and Japan.
The picture also illustrates that the practice of cupping was originally used as a form of bloodletting – small incisions are made and then the vacuum made by heating the cup was used to draw out the blood (as is happening in the photo). Cupping is still practiced as an “alternative” treatment but the justification for the intervention has completely changed – now the cupping is said to draw out toxins from the body through the skin.
This is a good example of a traditional practice that survives by adapting to whatever the prevailing belief-system is. When the humoral theory prevailed, cupping was used to draw off blood. Now that “detox” is all the rage, cupping is used to draw off toxins. But there are still remnants that attest to its blood-letting past.
The first picture, of a man having his psoriasis treated by “doctor fish”, is interesting. It actually seems reasonable to have small fish who eat dead skin cells feed off of the psoriasis lesions (which involves a scaly build up of dead skin cells). The further claim that the fish or the salt water alters the course of psoriasis is without much plausibility, and any published evidence as far as I can see. But if someone want to have fish eat off their dead skin cells for a cosmetic effect, that is reasonable.
The mud baths seem pretty benign as well, as long as people don’t rely upon them to cure their cancer. But that is always the rub – what claims are being made for such treatments.
20 Responses to “Wacky Medical Treatments”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.