These 6 Painful Medieval Medical Procedures Will Make You Cringe

Going to the doctor for a routine exam is often a tedious task. After all, you almost always feel fine. You don’t need a doctor to tell you what you already know.

Unless, of course, something is wrong with you. In this case, I’m thankful I don’t live in medieval times. After seeing what these so-called “doctors” did to their patients during visits, I’m not sure I’d make it out alive!

1.) Cataract Removal

Medieval physicians would often use a knife or needle to remove a cataract through the cornea. They would then force the eye lens out of the capsule and to the bottom of the eye.

Eventually, the influx of Islamic medicine replaced this method with suction methods.

2.) Dwale

Pronounced dwah-lay, this practice included various potions, elixirs, and concoctions partially inspired by pagan medical remedies.

Some of these potions were so potent that they could actually kill you.

The remedies included lettuce juice, castrated boar gall, and hemlock juice. All were mixed with wine. But that’s the last good taste people would have. They would often die as a result of the ingredients.

3.) Trepanning

Trepanning involves a “physician” cutting a hole into the skull. It was done to an individual suffering from mental illness, seizures, or even skull fractures.

The survival rate was surprisingly very high, with little chance for infection.

4.) Metallic Catheters

People in medieval times had diseases just like today, but without access to antibiotics. Many people suffered from a blocked bladder. To fix this, a long metal tube was inserted through the urethra.

5.) Clysters

A long metallic tube called the clyster was inserted into the body directly through the anus so that various liquids could pass through it. This was a method of administering an enema.

Although it appears incredibly awful, its use was widespread, even by King Louis XIV.

It’s speculated that the King had over 2,000 administrations during his reign.

6.) Bloodletting

Bloodletting was common for most of human history. It was modeled after the menstruation cycle as it “purged women of bad humors.”


Barbers were the most likely to administer the bloodletting.

They would make a small cut on the inner arm and release an amount of blood appropriate to the person’s age, sex, and weight.

(via All That Is Interesting)

I don’t even care anymore that my doctor ordered a test to screen for who knows what. If it keeps me away from that brain drill, I’m all for it!