You'll Be Glad These 5 Shocking Historical Nutrition Practices Are Outdated

You'll Be Glad These 5 Shocking Historical Nutrition Practices Are Outdated

Almost every day we read about new foods that seem to have marvelous properties that do wonders to our health. We have also seen how certain foods and natural techniques seem to go out of style as adverse side-effects and new research pop up to shows they might not be as great as they were believed to be. If this is true today, when we have much more scientific information at hand, you can only imagine some of the bizarre nutrition and health practices carried out in the past.

Some of these health and nutrition techniques might surprise you or even gross you out, so take a deep breath before reading on.

1. Mercury

Mercury is a metal that is liquid at room temperature and a bright silver color. Honestly, it is pretty cool looking. It has clearly fascinated humans for a long time; even as far back as 1500 B.C. and for hundreds of hears after that, there is evidence that humans used it as a topical and oral medicine for everything from a scraped knee to constipation to STDs and epidemic diseases.

Now we know that mercury is incredibly toxic to the human body, and lead to fatal damaging of the brain, heart kidneys and lungs.

2. Shark Cartilage

This remedy is relatively recent. Shark cartilage has been touted as an alternative treatment for cancer in the last 20 to30 years. Supporters and manufacturers say that certain shark cartilage extracts have the power to cure cancer, particularly Kaposi’s sarcoma, but can also aid in the treatment of arthritis, psoriasis, wound healing, and more.

The evidence behind it is mostly anecdotal. Research shows that it is likely ineffective for cancer, and there is insufficient evidence regarding how it can help treat other illnesses. Legal action has been taken against companies that promote shark fin as a cure for cancer as well. 

3. Radioactive Drinks

One hundred years ago, people actually thought radiation was good for you and could magically cure a range of illnesses. It was found in multiple forms, including radon water, radium pendants, uranium blankets, and more. It was believed to cure arthritis, digestive woes, and even rheumatism.

Of course, not we know that general exposure to radiation is horrible for our health and can lead to DNA and RNA damage, thus cancer and deformations in newborns.

4. Mouse Paste

Ancient Egyptians believed that grinding up dead mice with other ingredients to make it into a paste was a great remedy for toothaches. Cringe away. It sounds pretty gross today, does it not? Enough said about that.

5. Corpse Medicine

This one may be even more gruesome than it sounds. Peaking on the 16th and 17th centuries, many noble Europeans took on a cannibalistic approach to their health. According to the Smithsonian history on Corpse Medicine, “for several hundred years, peaking in the 16th and 17th centuries, many Europeans, including royalty, priests and scientists, routinely ingested remedies containing human bones, blood and fat as medicine for everything from headaches to epilepsy.”

Human remains were considered powerful remedies because they had remains of the spirit of the living person. Of course, this sounds absurd and disgusting now, not to mention we know it can result in range of illnesses when there are infections in play.


Some of these may sound bizarre to you, or they may even churn your stomach. While these are extreme cases, there are likely thousands of phony remedies out there that may be damaging to your health. Remember to do your research and talk to your doctor before taking on new health regimens. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is to avoid taking anything about which there is limited research.


How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical Practices and Procedures. By David Haviland. 

CATEGORIES: Superfood, Fad Diet, Unhealthy Food, History, Nutrition Trends