5 of the Strangest Health Rituals in History

If someone had told me a week ago that it was a good idea to pour a pot of salt water through one of my nostrils and out the other one I would have been all ‘Bitch please!’ *hair flick*. 

It was much to my own surprise that I found myself doing that very thing this morning. Observe.


Now there’s a reason why I did this… and that reason is Morgan. She’s the yoga teacher and wellness guru at the retreat that I’m at in Bali this week. Allow me to introduce you to her. 


She’s just about the most centered and pure individual I’ve ever seen. If I met her anywhere other than at a detox retreat in Bali, I honestly might not like her as much as I do. I’m totally fan girling over her. I will literally do anything she tells me to do. Which is how I found myself almost drowning whilst completely dry and standing on a patch of grass in the wee small hours of this morning. So if you see me Instagramming anything that seems totally bat shit cray just blame Morgan. That wiley goddess has cast a spell over me. I’ll follow where she leads. Just like in the Gilmore Girls theme song.

This evening as I tucked myself into bed at 8.30pm,  (Oh, I’m a morning person now, haven’t you heard?) I started to research some of the weirdest therapies and health rituals. Since I’m in the detox frame of mind I thought I’d share a few of my favourites. Enjoy.

 5 of the Strangest Health Rituals in History 

Rebirthing Therapy

It’s thought that the process of child-birth can be extremely traumatic for some people and they may carry residual angst surrounding the experience. Rebirthing therapy is a guided breathing technique that helps people to let go of this trauma by re-living their birth. I personally cannot think of anything worse and I’m sure your mother would agree.


Bloodletting was most commonly practiced in the 1800s and was supposedly used to help get rid of ‘diseased’ blood when you had a cold, the flu or even things like polio. Can you imagine giving blood when you’re delirious with fever? There’s a 100% chance that I would faint.

Maggot Therapy 

This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an ancient technique where you place maggots on an infected wound and they’ll just wriggle around and totally clean out the joint. Maggot therapy is making one hell of a come back because there are new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria popping up everywhere and apparently the best solution is to get maggots to eat it. Fascinating.

Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup 

This was a charming little concoction that was sold in the 1800s and early 1900s for women to give to teething children to ‘calm’ them. Yep. Morphine will do that.

Bee Sting Therapy

Bees venom is thought to have marvelous anti-inflammatory properties and bee sting therapy has been used since ancient times to heal arthritis and sore joints. Of course now you can just inject the venom directly to the affected area, rather than endure the pain of 6 or 7 simultaneous bee stings.

It’s pretty easy to look at this stuff and think it’s a bit mental but sometimes I think some of the beauty rituals I go through are pretty weird. Imagine if you had never heard of these things before, how horrified you’d be that anyone would do them voluntarily?

* Teeth Whitening

* Fake Tanning

* Mud Bathing

* Bikini Waxing

* Hair straightening

* Botox

* Hair Perming

* Pore Extraction

Sometimes when I’m putting make up on in the morning, I stop and think ‘What am I doing??? I am literally colouring my face in. This doesn’t seem right.

Do you know what I mean?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for your health? Or better yet, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for your appearence?

Oh if you’re keen to follow along with my detox journey then just follow me on instagram (I’m @Smaggle) and on Facebook too.


Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Liz 2 years ago

    My sister is learning acupuncture, and after a nasty smashed ankle (while in Hobart, no less) with 3 months of not being able to walk, 2 rounds of surgery with the prospect of a third to sort out the scars that weren’t healing, her lecturer did an old fashioned blood-letting on her next to the surgery scars.

    The next day she could walk on it and over the next week her scars started to settle and heal. In. sane.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      No way??? That’s mental. I actually really love hearing about stuff like that. I’m always on the side science though. I’m sure there was scientificit explanation for it!

  2. For beauty, definitely microdermabrasion – I mean, really it’s like using a tiny electric sander on your face. But hey, it helped! Nothing totally crazy and out there for my health, but I’m finding myself wanting to go to a health retreat more and more lately…

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      The bali detox was BRILLIANT! I highly recommend it. They’re were heaps of couples on it to.. newly weds and an older couple on a honeymoon. I’ve honestly never felt this amazing!

  3. Erika 2 years ago

    Don’t forget leeches – which are still used and bred specifically for purpose. There’s also the stewing in juices theory of bandaging. I think you need to define weird. It’s a bit like “what’s normal?” If you have a somewhat alternative mindset (ie hippy throwback), not an awful lot seems weird…. I was most chuffed when our vet started recommending manuka honey on Molly’s leg wound. It’s an old remedy, but has only recently caught on in mainstream allopathic medicine. My preference is raw honey, you can also use sugar. Works brilliantly at drawing out impurities, keeping it moist and encouraging granulation.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      Ewwww is stewing in juices a real thing??? Gross! I’ve used Manuka Honey as a face mask but not on a wound. I think ‘weird’ comes down to ‘I’ve never heard of that and it’s not something my family or peers do.’ 🙂

  4. Seana Smith 2 years ago

    Have you ever heard of trepanning… literally drilling a hole in your head to relieve pressure. Was an ancient surgical technique and sometimes done as a DIY job!! Learned about that in my glory days as a kids comedy TV producer… I have a son who talks incessantly about heavy metal music and English Premier League and often get the sensation he is drilling a hole in my head….

    I have a nose squirter thinggy that works really well with warm salty water sent up one nostril that then flows out of the other nostril – works so well too.

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      It’s that kind of similar to a lobotomy? Or are lobotomies done through the eye socket? I can’t imagine how people would DIY that. Shudder!

      • Nadine 2 years ago

        A lobotomy removes part of the brain (usually a lobe).

        True planning is simply a hole in the cranium, it allows blood or excess fluid to drain out of the skull giving a swollen brain more room to expand, and as a result prevent brain damage. Once the swelling has been removed the skull can be closed.

  5. Nicole 2 years ago

    I’ve been wanting to try a netti pot for years. I first learnt what they were because of Six Feet Under. I’ve heard they’re amazing for your sinuses, which I could use some help with (currently have a head cold that has lasted 2 weeks or so). It’s just, the whole thing with the very specific water temperature kinda freaks me out.

    I still think fake-tanning and botox sound crazy, but that’s just me.

    I haven’t done this, but have you heard of the pedicure technique where you stick your feet in a small tank filled with tiny fish and they eat the dead skin from your feet? That both intrigues me and creeps me out at the same time. It’s been proven that it’s possible for the fish to transfer infections between people *shudders*

    • Author
      Smaggle 2 years ago

      It’s SO GOOD! Although Mr Smags did some research and you MUST use boiled water only and wait for it to cool. Tap water can cause infections and 2 people in the US died last year from netti potting regularly with tap water. EEEEK! I have had the fish thing! At Singapore airport! I actually really loved it! Didn’t know about the infections though… blergj!

      • Nadine 2 years ago

        It’s even better if you use saline (as opposed to plain water) as osmosis comes into play and removes excess fluid/inflammation from the walls of the cavity.

        It is an extremely vascular area, so ensure the water is pure.

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