13 Ailments 19th-Century Doctors Said Electrostatic Could Cure

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Static electricity has been known to humanity for thousands of years—and for almost as long, electricity has been thought to have healing (if not magical) properties. In the late Renaissance, thoughts of electrical current and static electricity were brought back in vogue, and their incorporation into medicine was hypothesized once again.

Hypotheses are one thing, but the discovery of an efficient and relatively inexpensive way to conduct electricity in the 19th century is what really changed the field for physicians. Static electricity was the name of the game, and it was a hot subject for almost 100 years. What could static electricity cure? Anything, of course!

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1. Cure your headaches with a “static breeze” raining down on you!

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2. “Brain troubles” are easily cured with an electrode to the forehead.

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3. Putting plants in solenoids seemed to work wonders—why not put yourself in one, if your digestive tract leaves something to be desired?

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4. Sciatica is no match for this shocking wand!

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5. Joint pain and rheumatism are the worst—get rid of it quick by zapping it away.

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6. If you’re feeling a bit down, get revitalized in this high-frequency autoconduction cage! Just stand there for 30 minutes, and you’ll be as rejuvenated as a spring rabbit.

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7. Electrostatic facial pads will eliminate sinusitis in just 10 to 14 days! No, really, it’s the pads getting rid of that gunk in your head, why don’t you trust me?

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8. Appendix problems? Appendicitis, even? Electrostatics are the answer!

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9. Once you put this metal collar on, your rib pain will go away for sure—trust me, I’m a doctor!

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10. For pleurisy or bronchitis, sustained mild shock is the way to go.

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11. Pinkeye problems? No problem! Just “bathe” your infected eyes in a vacuum tube of static.

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12. Broke your thumb? Don’t use a bulky bandage to stabilize it; electrify it!

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13. Lumbago hurts! Get the pep back in your step by leaning over just a little farther...

Of course, we know today that while electrical shocks have some application in medicine, and electricity is useful in innumerable ways to help power medical tools, static electricity does very little beneficial to the human body. Still, you can't beat the style of true Victorian fashion, elegant wooden cases, and the bizarre contraptions that the world of electrostatic medicine reveled in!

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January 8, 2014 - 2:00pm
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