Doctors Used to Recommend Sniffing Farts from a Jar as Medicine

The fart used to mean something. Or, at least it meant something different. In that bygone time of the 17th century, we have just learned, courtesy of Mental Floss, that farts were once bottled and jarred as a form of medicine. "In the 1600s," writer Jake Rossen tells us, "some doctors recommended their patients fart in jars to help treat exposure to the bubonic plague."

We have to dive back into history why. It all began in 1665 with The Great Plague of London, a deadly airborne epidemic that was the last large-scale occurrence of bubonic plague to hit England. It killed approximately 100,000 people over the course of 18 months between 1665 and 1666, and under those conditions, long before the time of vaccines and antibiotics, you can imagine people were pretty desperate to cure themselves of a disease that caused abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding from your mouth, nose, or rectum -- among other symptoms.

Enter the farts. In their wisdom, the physicians of the time thought that the airborne plague could be fought with enough potent pooting from a patooty. David Havilland, author of Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar & Other Oddball or Gross Maladies, Afflictions, Remedies and Cures, first explained to AOL News in 2011. "It was believed that the plague was caused by deadly vapors in the air so many doctors thought it could, in turn, be cured by bodily vapors," he said.

"They figured an equally foul vapor, like a fart, could combat the disease, so they suggested patients store their farts in a jar. This way, when the plague appeared in their neighborhood, they could open the jar and inhale the fumes to ward off the bad vapors that came with the disease. It made sense to them."

I'm not a doctor, but it doesn't make sense to me. Still, it's not not scientific? We can commend the thought. Anyway, this also led to some families -- those who could afford goats -- to keep stinky goats in the house. For everyone else, there was always farting in a jar and saving it to sniff later.

H/T: Mental Floss

Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer and editor at Thrillist. Follow him @e_vb_.