In order to cure rheumatism, Australians in 1896 were gaga for the latest craze in "Oh my God who would do that" curatives, known as the whale cure. There was no scientific evidence that it worked, but people claimed to "feel better after being in the whale," as put by Michelle Linder, who curated an exhibit on the short-lived practice at an Australian museum. Australian writer Louis Becke describes the experience thusly: "Sometimes the patient cannot stand this horrible bath for more than an hour, and has to be lifted out in a fainting condition, to undergo a second, third, or perhaps fourth course on that or the following day."
William Ralston/The Graphic
"See! I'm perfectly fine!
"That dismount was s**t. Fifth course."
And who needs scientists when whalemen exist: "The latter is closed up as closely as possible, otherwise the patient would not be able to breathe through the volume of ammoniacal gases which would escape from every opening left uncovered. It is these gases, which are of an overpowering and atrocious odour, that bring about the cure, so the whalemen say."
Thank you, whalemen! Hey whalemen: Don't do that. Why? Because it was not based in any kind of science and had no proven results. But mostly because it's really, really gross.
I guess if your joints are aching and no one's invented ibuprofen yet, the overpowering smell of rotting sea mammal is better than ... not that?