Some Curious Facts About Medicine

We all owe something to medicine. It's an extremely old discipline that's gone through a dizzying evolution. However, unfortunately, these days, people prefer to ask Google rather than their doctor.
Some Curious Facts About Medicine
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 03 July, 2022

Medicine is one of the disciplines we all come into contact with at some time or another in our lives. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that, to a certain extent, our well-being and lives depend on it. It’s one of the oldest sciences and encompasses a series of professions that’ll undoubtedly change over time, but will never cease to exist.

Medicine is one of the fields with the most subdivisions or specialties. Indeed, today, the general practitioner has become a rarity and there are at least 50 branches of medicine. There are so many different specialties that only another doctor can refer a patient to the relevant specialist.

Medicine is also one of the fields of knowledge with the most advancements. It’s been in operation since ancient times. However, there’s still much more unknown than known about it and it’s generally accepted that there’s no cure for any disease. There are supportive and helpful treatments that work, but not cures as such. Let’s take a look at some more curious facts about medicine.

The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman ”.

-Jonathan Swift-

Doctor looking at a tablet

Treatments and medicine

Throughout the history of medicine, various curious treatments have been used. For example, during the Middle Ages it was thought that any disease could be cured with gold. Therefore, people with more resources chewed sheets of this metal or took it in powder form with their meals. Also, at that time, medical prescriptions often included prayers for healing.

In Roman times, in the year 23 BC, Emperor Augustus was seriously ill and was cured by his doctor, Antonio Musa. As a token of appreciation, the emperor exempted all physicians in Rome from taxes.

Musa used a plant to achieve healing: the banana. He considered it a universal cure-all. In fact, in honor of this great doctor, the scientific name of the plant is Musa paradisiaca. As a matter of fact, plants were the only medicines available until the second decade of the 20th century when medicine took a turn toward laboratory chemistry.

Other curious facts about medicine

The oldest known disease is estimated to be tuberculosis. The first traces of it date back to about 5,000 years before our era. The specialty that studies diseases in early hominids is called paleopathology. This branch of medicine established that, during prehistoric times, the most common evils were endocrinological.

For a long time, it was believed that illnesses had a supernatural component. For example, in ancient Mesopotamia, they compiled a list of 6,000 possible demons that attacked people’s health. Ever since then, and for a long time, certain diseases were linked to moral problems or divine punishment.

For many years, those who performed surgeries weren’t doctors, but barbers. They had a reputation for being skillful with knives which is why they were entrusted with everything from tooth extractions to limb amputations. In fact, doctors themselves considered such actions to be beneath them.

Medical instruments from years ago

More curious facts about medicine

Although it’s extremely difficult to believe, 200 years ago there was an epidemic of explosive teeth. This condition began with excruciating pain, which grew by the hour and culminated in a brutal explosion. It’s even claimed that a young woman was almost knocked over by the blast and remained deaf for several weeks.

Often, medicine holds unpleasant surprises for health personnel. For example, there’s the case of the 12-year-old girl who had an upset stomach. Then, she vomited up a fat garden slug. It was alive and quite active. In the following days, the little girl vomited eight more similar bugs.

Halitosis, or bad breath, is a really common ailment, much more so in the past. However, a case in 1886 in Scotland broke all records. A man went to see a doctor because one night he lit a match to look at his watch and when he blew it out he got a mouthful of flames. Apparently he had a digestive problem that increased the production of methane, a flammable gas. Just another of the many curious facts about medicine.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Báguena Cervellera, M. J. (2011). La tuberculosis en la historia. Anales (Reial Acadèmia de Medicina de la Comunitat Valenciana), vol. 12.
  • Bermúdez, Alexis, Oliveira-Miranda, María A., & Velázquez, Dilia. (2005). La Investigación etnobotánica sobre plantas medicinales: Una revisión de sus objetivos y enfoques actuales. Interciencia30(8), 453-459. Recuperado en 28 de junio de 2022, de
  • Inteligencia, V. S. (2010). Curiosidades de la medicina. Arq Bras Cardiol, 94(4), 538-546.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.