Blowing smoke up someone’s butt really was a medical procedure in the 18th century.
Physicians would use a tube or even a smoking pipe to blow tobacco smoke up a patient’s rectum, Today I Found Out reported. The tube was connected to a fumigator and a bellows, which the doctor would compress, sending smoke into the rectum.
European doctors allegedly picked up the practice from Nation Americans.
In the mid-1700s smoke enemas were being touted as the perfect fix for people who had nearly drowned. It purportedly dried out the patient and nicotine stimulated a quicker, stronger heartbeat.
By 1774, the Royal Humane Society, then known as the Institution for Affording Immediate Relief to Persons Apparently Dead From Drowning, popularized the procedure. The society offered to pay people to do the procedure on a drowning victim, giving them four guineas, which would have a purchasing power of $756 today.
A doctor even published a rhyme to help people remember what to do.
Tobacco glyster (enema), breathe and bleed.
Keep warm and rub till you succeed.
And spare no pains for what you do;
May one day be repaid to you.
Eventually it was being used to treat all sorts of conditions from hernias to headaches. The practice stopped, however, after a scientist proved in 1811 that nicotine is toxic.