There are a lot of strange methods doctors used to swear by. Medical history is chock-full of risky procedures with high mortality rates. Some ingredients thought of as medical essentials, like mercury and black salve, are these days proven to be dangerous. Before anesthetic, the best surgeons were the ones who could work the fastest. Crowds used to gather around individuals unfortunate enough to require their teeth pulled. Doctors could make money by charging an observation fee.
Looking far back enough, nobody knew about germs and bacteria. People thought sickness traveled through the air as miasma. They defined this miasma as pollution and noxious odors. The theory was that disease epidemics stemmed from rotting organic matter. Though this theory was later disregarded, believing in miasma kept things somewhat clean. People worked to remove anything rotten from their towns. The miasma theory of disease was also responsible for doctors wearing beak-like masks to ward off the plague. Because they believed odors caused disease, the beaks contained berries and flowers.