Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages

Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages

Nathan Belofsky

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0399159959

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Strange Medicine casts a gimlet eye on the practice of medicine through the ages that highlights the most dubious ideas, bizarre treatments, and biggest blunders. From bad science and oafish behavior to stomach-turning procedures that hurt more than helped, Strange Medicine presents strange but true facts and an honor roll of doctors, scientists, and dreamers who inadvertently turned the clock of medicine backward:

• The ancient Egyptians applied electric eels to cure gout.
• Medieval dentists burned candles in patients’ mouths to kill invisible worms gnawing at their teeth.
• Renaissance physicians timed surgical procedures according to the position of the stars, and instructed epileptics to collect fresh blood from the newly beheaded.
• Dr. Walter Freeman, the world’s foremost practitioner of lobotomies, practiced his craft while traveling on family camping trips, cramming the back of the station wagon with kids—and surgical tools—then hammering ice picks into the eye sockets of his patients in between hikes in the woods.

Strange Medicine is an illuminating panorama of medical history as you’ve never seen it before.

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house. In matters religious, Hildegard remained humble, teaching that humankind was just a small part of a much bigger cosmos. As she wrote, only the pelican, looking into a person 's body and soul, truly knew what God had planned for them. Mondeville on Money Let doctors call in clothing fine arrayed With sparklingjewels on their hands displayed. . . For when well dressed and looking over-nice, You may presume to charge a higher price; Since patients always pay those doctors best Who make their

the fifteenth century, physician Marsilio Ficino, noting that women called " screech-owls" sucked the blood of babies to good effect, was moved to ask: Why shouldn 't our old people . . .likewise suck the blood of a youth ? . . They will suck, therefore, like leeches. . . they will do this when hungry and thirsty and when the moon is waxing. In The Marrow ofPhysick (1 669) , Thomas Brugis wrote: [Take} a Mans Skull that hath been dead but one yeare, bury it in the Ashes behind the fire, and let

forum had to be built. The venues themselves were elaborate, decked out in fine woods and expensive artwork. Ushers kept order and gate crashers, peeking through windows and from behind columns, were ejected by bouncers. Anyone with a ticket was welcome-visiting dignitaries, medical students, salted fish dealers, even Jews. Questions from the audience were permitted, but laughing too hard was discouraged. Audience members passed around body parts for inspection, though the taking of souvenirs was

turtle and a porcupine , and designed a cat piano (its strings slammed down on a cat ' s tail) , journeyed to Rome and captured tarantulas in a custom-designed glass vial. Isolating their toxin, Kircher discovered that tarantism, left untreated, could create a desire to fondle things that were purple, and that some spider bite victims, thinking they were ducks, would grab reeds from a pond and dive underwater. Renaissance man Epiphanio Ferdinando, whose spider-bit cousin died when the music

Elizabethan Medicine and Illnesses. " www.elizabethan­ era. org. uk!elizabethan-medicine-and -illnesses.htm. Fitzharris, Lindsey. " Behind the Mask: The Plague Doctor. " The Chirurgeon 's Apprentice. March 1 3 , 20 1 2 . http://thechirurgeonsapprentice . com/20 1 2/031 1 3/behind-the­ mask-the-plague-doctor/. Weapon Salve and Sympathetic Powder Hedrick, Elizabeth. " Romancing the Salve: Sir Kenelm Digby and the Powder of Sympathy. " British Journal for the History of Science 4 1 , no. 2 (2008)

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