5 Legitimate Medical Treatments That Sound Like Cruel Pranks

Let’s put some explosives in your butt. For your own good. And for science!
5 Legitimate Medical Treatments That Sound Like Cruel Pranks

Going to a hospital can be a humiliating experience. You get naked. You poop in bed. You might get prodded in ways that sound sexual but aren’t in fact sexually pleasing at all. In some hospitals, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by students taking notes. At any moment, it really does feel like the walls are going to fall down to reveal cameras and a studio audience. They’re all laughing, especially when the docs try one of the following tricks on you. 

Sticking Nitroglycerin Up Your Butt

South Park Stick of Truth fire fart


Nitroglycerin is a powerful explosive. It’s so explosive that after Alfred Nobel made a version of it that industries could actually use, he went on to invent dynamite, with the selling point being that dynamite is a much more stable form of nitroglycerin and comparatively safe. 

Nitroglycerin is also a medicine. It didn’t take long after workers started spending time around nitroglycerin for everyone to realize exposure affected the body in some way or another, so doctors kept experimenting till they figured out just what it did. Turned out it’s a vasodilator, which means it relaxes the muscles around blood vessels, widening them. It’s most famously used for heart stuff. If your heart’s hurting because a strong flow is straining your constricted arteries, a little nitroglycerin can set you right. 

But nitroglycerin’s use as a vasodilator means it treats other stuff too. Like anal fissures. If stony bowel movements have ripped your butthole, doctors recommend nitroglycerin in the form of a rectal ointment. The muscles there will relax and put less pressure on the fissures, relieving pain and letting them heal on their own. It probably doesn’t look exactly like sticking a firecracker in someone’s ass, but that's how we insist on picturing it nevertheless. 

Finding an Old Person and Knocking Them Down

Hans Moleman falling


TikTok is filled with videos of young people kicking the legs out from under the elderly, making them fall to the ground. This probably says more about how our personal watch history has influenced the algorithm than it does about the state of the world in general, but the fact remains that tripping the elderly is very rarely looked upon as a good deed. 

Unless, that is, you’re specifically training the elderly, to protect them from future falls. That’s the mission that a University of Illinois lab embarked upon a decade ago, and the research earned them a million-dollar grant. Normally, the best we can do to train old people from falling is assigning them normal exercise to strengthen their bones and muscles. This new treatment, in contrast, trips patients on purpose, not to strengthen their limbs but to train their reflexes. 

The process involves a special treadmill routine that programs in sudden skips to make the patient trip. A harness keeps the patient from actually hitting the floor and shattering a hip, while additional sensors stuck all over the patient’s body help make the whole rigamarole look more science-y. After months of forced falls, patients better respond to surprises and fall less. The scientists are a little behind schedule now on their plan to stick one of these treadmills in every doctor’s office, but they were releasing new results as recently as last year, so the dream is not dead. 

Giving Herpes to Cancer Patients

Family Guy Stewie Herpes


Befriending a cancer patient seems like a nice thing to do. Having sex with a cancer patient could also be a fine thing to do, though if you specifically seek cancer patients out as conquests, that raises some questions. However, if you have sex with a cancer patient, and then take off the next morning, leaving behind just a note that says, “sry didn’t use a condom, I gave u herpes” — well, that’s a move generally frowned upon by polite society. 

And yet, scientists have dedicated themselves to sticking herpes in cancer patients. Not your normal disease herpes but a genetically modified version of the herpes simplex virus, and not through the genital route but by injecting it into tumors. These modified viruses attack tumors, and they also affect the immune system. They “take the brakes off” the natural immune system, unleashing it to fight cancer harder.

If a supervirus rewriting the body sounds even more scary than the actual disease herpes, which isn’t that big of a deal, well, you know what’s scarier still? Cancer. 

Slap Them With a Dead Fish

Jimmy Fallon John Cena fish slap


Slapping someone with a fish is considered an affront in nearly all cultures. Fish are slippery and slimy and smelly, and yes, we’re specifically referring to the day-old dead fish that we found in a discarded bin at the local fish market, as those are the only fish we know, and because those are precisely the fish most often used in slap attacks. 

Nevertheless, fish skin may have uses. Put the skin of a tilapia fish on a burn patient, and collagen from the fish moves to the patient, promoting healing. You don’t need to apply a separate bandage, and you don’t need to apply any separate ointment, both of which may be expensive in the Brazilian hospitals that use the fish method. The healing is comparable to what happens when you apply actual human skin to a burn wound in a non-transplant fashion, and fish skin is easier to come by. 

Preparation first removes any smell from the fish skin, which may not be of paramount importance to someone in danger but was absolutely our first question. Most importantly, the treatment looks freakin’ cool: 

Handing Out Fentanyl Lollipops to the Military


Brecht Deboosere/Unsplash

Fentanyl candy is something that paranoid parents genuinely believe in, having been told of them by the DEA and the media, each of whom cite the other. The idea is that drug dealers are disguising fentanyl as candy to lure in children, which is a nonsense understanding of how drug dealing works. Colored blocks of fentanyl that authorities seize are not really trying to fool those who partake of them into thinking they’re candy.

But there is something called fentanyl lollipops. It’s not a recreational way of getting high, some twisted fatal spin on THC gummies. It’s a medicinal way of taking fentanyl through the mucosa of the mouth. It’s a lozenge on a stick, very useful in a combat arena when it’s inconvenient to insert an IV. The stick keeps the patient from accidentally swallowing the entire lozenge, and it reduces the chance of overdosing, since it falls from the mouth if the patient loses consciousness, as the stick is taped to the patient’s finger. 

The FDA approved fentanyl lollipops in 1998. They limited distribution, however, because children might mistake them for candy. Huh. Okay, paranoid parents, you may not understand how drug dealing works, but we can see that that paranoia of yours has a certain logic to it. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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