10 Bizarre Treatments Doctors Used to Think Were Legit

Radioactive Water
You’re not going to cure anything by drinking radioactive water. You probably won’t get super powers, either. ©SKapl/iStock/Thinkstock

The beginning of the 21st century brought us the kombucha beverage craze, but during the early 1900s it was radioactive water that flew off the shelves. It was considered in the medical community to cure mental illness and even prevent aging because of its ability to stimulate cell activity. It was so popular that even the U.S. surgeon general at the time considered it a legitimate treatment for diarrhea and malaria.

Radium began appearing not only in water, but also in infused chocolates, contraceptives, toothpaste and suppositories (to name a few of many). Spa-goers started visiting radium spas -- previously marketed as the benign-sounding "hot springs" -- for their healing drinks and soaks.

Today we know that radiation exposure is deadly, and that although the body is able to filter out about 80 percent of toxic radium we may ingest, the remaining 20 percent collects in our bones, blood and tissues. And that ability to stimulate cell activity? It increases our chance of cancer (such as bone cancer, leukemia and lymphoma) and other health problems [source: EPA].