Heroic medicine is a term "invented in the twentieth century to describe the aggressive medical practices" or methods of treatment used until the mid-nineteenth century, particularly the dangerous and unproven treatments that scientific advances later replaced.
Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), who signed the American Declaration of Independence and is considered one of the “fathers" of American medicine, and who trained in medicine at Edinburgh University (1766–1768), strongly advocated “heroic medicine”.
Age of Heroic Medicine
During the "Age of Heroic Medicine" (1780–1850),[dubious ]educated professional physicians aggressively practiced "heroic medicine," including bloodletting (venesection), intestinal purging (calomel), vomiting (tartar emetic), profuse sweating (diaphoretics) and blistering, stressing already weakened bodies. Physicians originally treated diseases like syphilis with salves made from mercury. While well-intentioned, and often well-accepted by the medical community, these treatments were actually harmful to the patient.
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