It's probably safe to say that many of you are still around to read this sentence today thanks to one of the myriad medical treatments that science has developed since we first figured out that the human body is not, in fact, powered by swarms of tiny elves. The details of said procedures run the gamut from fascinating to fear-inducing. It's often downright baffling that a) someone came up with the idea and b) that it totally freaking worked.
The following treatments are prime examples.
7Tetris Can Correct a Lazy Eye
The Tetris Company
Tetris, made popular in the '80s by its inclusion with the Nintendo Game Boy, was the Candy Crush of its day -- a stupidly simple game that was so addictive you expected it to be outlawed at some point. You'd just fit falling geometric shapes into rows until your mother yelled at you to get your ass outside (to look for a job, because suddenly several years had passed and you now had to pay rent).
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
Hey, there are worse ways to spend puberty. For example: any other way.
Until recently, the only societal benefit Tetris had given the world was a generation of people who are really, really good at packing for vacation. But that all changed when researchers at McGill University discovered that the game could be used to correct amblyopia, more commonly known as a lazy eye. Previously, the go-to treatment for a lazy eye was to patch the "good" eye and force the patient to use the "bad" eye until it shaped up, but success was limited at best and pirate jokes get old so, so fast.
In the Tetris treatment, patients wear head-mounted video goggles that display a high-contrast version of the game. Their good eye only sees the background image, while the lazy one has to get its ass up off the couch and focus on the task of stacking a never-ending supply of falling blocks.
Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The only side effect is the doctor's uncontrollable giggling.
Patients undergoing the treatment showed four times the improvement of those using the more traditional patching method, possibly due to the fact that, after becoming addicted to the game, they got extra practice while watching falling blocks in their sleep.
6Coal Tar Can Treat Skin Problems
Psoriasis is a chronic condition where your skin says, "Fuck your desire to ever wear short sleeves," and transforms itself into dry, itchy, red scales.
Coal tar is that black muck they spread on top of driveways.
Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images
The sitcom practically writes itself.
On a countdown of "two things that should never, ever, for the love of god be put together," these two would rank pretty high -- or so you'd think. As a matter of fact, coal tar has been a common treatment for psoriasis for hundreds of years, because while someone who's never experienced the condition might say, "But doc, couldn't you prescribe a nice, soothing topical lotion instead?" a psoriasis sufferer might say, "Doc, I don't care if you pop a squat right on my head -- like, right on it -- just so long as your shit makes this shit feel better."
Yuri Arcurs/Hemera/Getty Images
"I promise the erection is unrelated."
In the 1920s, an American dermatologist named William H. Goeckerman devised the unsurprisingly named Goeckerman Therapy, a treatment in which a psoriasis patient spends up to 24 hours slathered in coal tar, while the hospital staff resists the overwhelming urge to throw feathers at him. Just when he's almost hit the mental breaking point of becoming convinced that he is now a parking lot, the patient is cleaned up and immediately blasted with UVB radiation, which sadly ranks dead last on the scale of superpower-inducing radiations. Then he starts the process all over again, with the average treatment regimen lasting three freaking weeks.
It sounds downright barbaric, but it works (whether by reducing DNA synthesis or giving your skin Stockholm syndrome is unclear). And while there are more modern treatments for psoriasis (not to mention the whole "that shit's carcinogenic" factor), there are still many who choose the more traditional (and stickier) treatment because it's cheaper. In fact, in the Netherlands it's still one of the top treatments for the condition -- though that's possibly because the Dutch instinctively blurt out "Yes, please!" whenever they hear someone say "black tar."
And if you have dandruff problems, go look at your shampoo bottle. Squint hard enough and you'll probably see "coal tar" down at the bottom in the tiniest print they could manage.
It's not flammable, in case you're worried that a sudden spark will turn you into Ghost Rider.