Scholars Used To Believe Wombs Moved Around The Body Like Parasites
Back in the good ol' days, when men were men and women were unholy mysteries that possibly came from beyond the stars, things were a bit simpler. The medical establishment had a one-size-fits-all diagnosis for women who had the temerity to fall ill without the permission of their husbands: They were surely suffering from a bad case of "hysteria," and medical science had a solution for that.
Via WikipediaWe expect a fire hose hose to the loins would take the zip out of most people, actually.
So what causes these bizarre illnesses that only afflict women? Why, it's their wombs slithering about their bodies like escaped octopi, of course! This "fact" comes courtesy of ancient physicians like Plato, Hippocrates, and Aretaeus of Cappadocia -- the latter of whom wrote a paper (parchment?) about how the womb was capable of going anywhere it liked, from the heart to the lungs to the kidney to the spleen.
The symptoms presented by the host (seems a better fit than "patient" in this case) depended on where the womb lived that day. If it was trying to escape via the throat, she would suffer from sluggishness, vertigo, and a godawful headache. If it was heading down and out, she would suffer a "strong sense of choking, loss of speech, and a very sudden incredible death."
Fortunately, doctors of the day had a way to wrangle the womb back into place: forcing something fragrant through the mouth or vagina. This cure was based on the idea that a womb "delights in fragrant smells and advances towards them ... and has an aversion to fetid smells and flees from them." This comes from Aretaeus, who clearly thought he was writing a horror movie.
Chinese Doctors Believed That Animal Bile Cured Everything
For much of human history, "medicine" was simply a fancy word for inserting random objects into our bodies to see what they did to us. Although come to think of it, that describes a few other practices as well. So for hundreds of years, we solved our medical woes with copious amounts of animal bile, natch.
This practice began during China's Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BCE), and involved the use of animal bile for everything from salves to drugs to antiseptics. Medical texts from this time ("Prescriptions For Fifty-Two Types Of Diseases" and the "Classic Of Herbal Medicine") describe the first types of bile to be used in a medical capacity -- that of dogs, oxen, and carp. A popular anecdote from the time describes a surgeon treating an abscess by draining it of pus and then filling the cavity with dog bile, which caused the abscess to shrink and eventually heal.