Old School Barber Chair

Bloodletting Barbers

The Ridiculous Divide Between Medicine and Dentistry.

Dentistry has always been considered separate from medicine, the mouth somehow separate from the rest of the body. Sound ridiculous? It is. We now know what we knew hundreds of years ago: your oral health is directly connected to the rest of you. Obviously. Diseases that start in the mouth can destroy the rest of our bodies.

Old School Shaving

In Horses and Humans

Until the 1800s, barbers cut hair, trimmed whiskers and pulled painful teeth – they would also step in as surgeons if need be (hence the red-and-white striped pole). Modern dentistry was an offshoot of hairdressing. It seemed to make sense since barbers had the sharpest knives.

But it didn’t make sense at all. Our mouths are windows into the rest of our bodies. Quite literally. Horse traders understand the mouth-body connection – it’s rude to “look a gift horse in the mouth” because it would be like checking the price tag on a gift. Healthy teeth and gums directly correlate to a healthy body, both in horses and humans.


More Dumb Stuff People Believe.

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Silly-shaped plastic bottles helped sell mouthwash. Companies sell poisonous chemicals in plastic bottles proven to leach even more poisonous chemicals. These companies must figure, what the hell…it’s already so dangerous that a few more chemicals won’t make a big difference.

Swishing alcohol, toxic chemicals and artificial flavors and colors somehow makes you healthier.

Artificial colors make mouthwashes appear more effective. People think, “Wow, that Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Green #4 look so healthy!”

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The Following Were Actual Medical Beliefs and Practices Too.

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Smoke Up Your Ass.

Tobacco smoke enemas were widely used in western medicine in the 1800s. Tobacco smoke was believed to be medicine that could cure respiratory failure, cramps, colds, and cholera. The doctors would shove a tube up the rectum and literally “blow smoke up your ass.” And that is where the expression comes from!

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Like a Hole in the Head.

Trepanning involved drilling a small hole into the skull to expose the outer membrane of the brain. This practice was believed to alleviate pressure and to cure epilepsy, migraines, and other mental disorders (although such internal exposure to airborne germs would often be fatal).


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Incredible Effective!

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was a successful and highly effective medicine used during the 19th and 20th centuries to sooth infants and small children. It’s no wonder it worked so well – the formula consisted of large amounts of morphine, opium, sodium carbonate and aqua ammonia. Sleep tight little ones. Unfortunately, the potent formula gained a reputation for killing small babies.

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Over-the-Counter?

In the 1900s you could buy over-the-counter opiates as well as cocaine, heroin, and morphine to treat your colds, insomnia, menstrual cramps or whatever else might have ailed you. Morphine (and cocaine) injection kits were sold in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.


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Hysterical Paroxysm.

Women were historically believed to suffer from a psychiatric disorder called hysteria and needed their physician to perform a special type of pelvic physical therapy to achieve something called "hysterical paroxysm." In today's parlance, that's an orgasm. The first electric vibrator hit the scene in the late 1800s (that's before the vacuum cleaner was invented) which decreased treatment times from as much as an hour to as little as 10 minutes.

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Rabbit Test.

In 1927 two German scientists developed a “rabbit test” to determine whether a woman was pregnant. Her urine was injected into a female rabbit and the rabbit was examined over the next couple of days to see if its ovaries responded. The test worked and accurately determined pregnancy, but all the rabbits had to be killed to do so.