Despite huge advances in sports medicine and technology, today’s sporting heros continue to be stalked by pseudoscience and quackery – cures for injuries – that beggar belief.
But crazy cures for sporting and other injuries are nothing new. Here we take a look at some of the wackiest sports supplements ever.
A hoof for a hoof
Got a problem with a foot or a knee – chances are, ligaments are involved. But if conventional therapies like deep tissue massage, ultrasound and strengthening exercises aren’t working, perhaps it’s time to try something new.
Horse placenta, for example.
Simply drip some fluid extract from the organ onto the affected area and massage into the skin. Either that or take it dried, in capsule form. In both cases there’s absolutely no evidence that the treatment works – but that didn’t stop striker, Robin Van Persie giving it a go for an ankle injury.
Professional athletes have to be extremely careful not to accidentally consume banned substances. Many’s the athlete who has come a cropper after taking apparently benign cold and flu remedies.
So what do you do if a sore throat threatens to destroy your chances? Take syrup of snails of course. Try this recipe from 1728:
‘To make a syrup of snails, take Garden snails, early in the morning while the dew is upon them, one pound; take off their shells; slit them; and with half a pound of sugar, put them in a bag; hang them in a cellar and the syrup will melt and drop through; which keep for use. It possesses in the best manner all the virtues of snails.’
Make the weight
Never mind starvation, dehydration or water tablets – making the weight has never been easier. One pill is all it takes to shed those last few pounds to ensure you’re ripped to the max. And the good news is, you can eat as much as you like and still lose weight. The downside? Your abdomen may look a little distended – but hey – that’s a small price to pay, right?
The ‘pill’ – a brainwave of the 19th and early 20th century is in fact, a live tapeworm egg. Once hatched, your pet parasite will eat everything you eat, and absorb all the calories intended for you. Unfortunately this weight control supplement can also cause nausea, vomiting, malnutrition, diarrhea, internal cysts that damage organs, restrict blood flow and cause seizures.
No – not the mortal curse of Harry Potter fame, but a magical ancient Egyptian innovation and sure fire way to eat your way to stronger muscles and bones. The best thing is, you can make this super supplement at home. All you need is an old man.
Feed him on nothing but honey until he keels over, then place his body in a stone coffin filled with – you guessed it – honey. After a hundred years, your sweet cadavre is ready to go. It’s a pity that you’ll be dead by then – or perhaps a honeyed corpse yourself, but you could look on it as laying in an excellent cure all for the grandkids. You could even create new brand to market your wonder cure – ‘Honey Mummy – for what ails you’.
These days, we all know smoking is incredibly bad for health. But in the 18th century, it was taken as a health supplement to aid recovery from a range of ailments including cholera, typhus, and colds. If you’re a swimmer, it might still pay to have some tobacco to hand, along with a pair of bellows.
During the 18th century, it was common practise to resuscitate victims of drowning by inserting a rubber tube into their rear ends and pumping them full of tobacco smoke.
The UN estimates that over 2 billion people worldwide, eat bugs of one kind or another. A great source of healthy protein, caterpillars contain more of the muscle builder than their equivalent weight of minced beef. And now with global warming and increasing environmental pressures brought on by our huge and rising populations, the advice is that bugs should be on the menu.
But in the West, we don’t like them. And with good reason. How would you fancy chowing down on beetles and larvae – crunchy on the outside puss filled on the inside? No. When it comes to sports supplements, we’re sticking with good old fashioned whey protein.