Cupping – Cupping therapy has been practiced from as early as the 6th century, according to Totelin, and is seeing a comeback today through the increased popularity of traditional medicine. "Globalization of medicine is attracting Western people to this holistic practice," says Stein.
The practice involves cups placed on specific regions of the body to create suction and encourage blood flow. Practitioners believe it promotes healing for a broad range of ailments in a similar way to the premise of bloodletting and leeching -- the goal being to balance levels of blood inside the body.
"Cupping was more common," says Totelin about the treatment which is still practiced today in Chinese medicine. In ancient times, however, its use was part of everyday life. "Cupping is one of the big things you do ... to be healthy," adds Stein. "[People would] place a cup to draw blood out of the body or to prevent getting sick."
Leeches – These blood-sucking worms were used in a similar way to bloodletting but provided a more localized way of extracting excess blood from the body. "You put leeches on the blood to draw bad fluid," says Stein.
The animals have evolved for optimal blood extraction from humans and release hirudin -- an anticoagulant -- during feedings to enhance blood flow.
Their use can be traced back to ancient Indian Ayurveda practices and leeches are still sometimes used in modern medicine to restore circulation after surgery.
Trepanation – Dating back before ancient Roman and Greek times, according to Totelin, holes were drilled into human skulls to relieve a range of ailments from migraines to head injuries.
The practice -- known as trepanation -- is considered by experts to be the oldest form of neurosurgery. Its original use was to relieve pressure, reduce swelling and also enhance overall bloodflow in the brain and improve well-being.
The premise behind the practice is still used by neurosurgeons today to reduce swelling and pressure in the brain before, or after, surgery.
Arsenic – From the 15th century onwards, people believed the body was made up of different elements which were needed in the right proportions. "If [they were] not, you used chemicals to put it in order," says Totelin. Those chemicals included lead, copper, silver and arsenic.
"Arsenic has always been a known poison," adds Stein, but its toxic properties did have some benefits. "It did kill bacteria but would not treat things long term," she says. In the 20th century arsenic was used in the first antibiotic treatment against syphilis, known as salvarsan, which was considered a magic bullet in the fight against the disease. It was a much needed alternative to pure mercury.
Couching – Couching is considered one of the earliest forms of cataract surgery dating back to the 6th century and possibly back to the ancient Egyptians, according to Totelin.
Cataracts cause a clouding of the lens inside the eye -- resulting in blurred vision. In couching, pointed objects were used to dislodge the lens within the eye and push the clouded section towards the back of the eye. "People were often blind at an early age," says Totelin, whose research has discovered couching to have been a long-standing practice.
The treatment continues to be used in some forms of traditional medicine today as well as in rural areas, but doctors warn against its use, instead advocating cataract surgery -- used in current Western medical practices.
Purging – Purging was a practice where poisonous plants were consumed to "rid the body of any superfluous liquids," according to Stein -- by inducing vomiting.
The aim was to empty the body of any of its contents which could be causing a person's ailments -- similar to the purging performed by cats and dogs.
"[There were] different plants you can give dependant on which area you live in," says Stein. A common plant consumed was hellebore -- also known then as the hell flower. Hellebore was also included in a range of ancient potions in ancient Greek and Japanese medicine. Its roots and stems were used to treat anything from melancholy and depression to coughs, epilepsy and dysentery.
This gallery was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated.