Questions tagged [medicine]

For questions regarding the history of more or less scientific methods of healing.

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23 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why wasn't sauerkraut used to combat scurvy?

While reading about age of sail, I've read about scurvy and how it was 'cured' by 'acidity' of citrus. It come to my mind - why didn't they try to use sauerkraut? It seems that it should be more ...
7 votes
3 answers
23k views

How old is the idea that humans have 360 joints?

I know that the idea that humans have 360 joints appears in a few old sources. One is from the Islamic tradition, from Sahih Muslim 1007a, a text that was first written maybe in the 9th century AD. I ...
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Were blue-tinted glasses prevalent in Victorian England and, if so, why?

Whenever I happen to read Chesterton, Conan-Doyle or some other British writers of the era, there will occasionally be mentioned people wearing blue-tinted spectacles. Chesterton especially, in his ...
9 votes
1 answer
2k views

How did PHS researchers prevent Tuskegee experiment participants from obtaining treatment on their own?

According to the Wikipedia article: During World War II, 256 of the infected subjects registered for the draft and were consequently diagnosed as having syphilis at military induction centers and ...
-1 votes
1 answer
145 views

Where, other than Voltaire, are there other references to "cat's eyes" in 18th century Europe?

Reading Voltaire’s A Philosophical Dictionary, in the article on character, I found this: “If I have a wry nose and cat's eyes I can hide them behind a mask, and can I do more with the character that ...
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

How long has western civilization known the body contains a significant fraction of water?

Body water is the water that makes up more than half of the average human body. Before the advent of modern physiology, humorism associated Phlegm with water, and my (relatively limited) ...
0 votes
0 answers
137 views

Is there a link between the quack remedy "Peruna" and the Finnish word for 'potato'?

source. click for larger version. My attention was drawn to the advert for "PE-RU-NA": PE-RU-NA | Cures Catarrh | and all Catarrhal Diseases Peruna was a medicine patented by the quack ...
30 votes
1 answer
5k views

Is there a record of a rabid human attacking another human?

I was just reading the Wikipedia page on rabies, and the following claim is made: Although it is theoretically possible for rabies-infected humans to transmit it to others by biting or otherwise, no ...
0 votes
1 answer
164 views

Why didn't Semmelweis perform a simpler experiment, to stop all the anatomical work?

Levy wrote in his paper criticizing Semmelweis: "Why wasn't a simpler and more reliable experiment performed, to stop all the anatomical work?". That sounds like a reasonable argument to me. ...
0 votes
1 answer
355 views

(How) Did criminals in the middle ages get treatment for injuries?

Were criminals in the middle ages able to get treatment for injuries, and if so, how? I mean criminals such as bandits who wouldn't be able to seek whatever medical care was normally available, even ...
2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did nutmeg really prevent infections during the Bubonic Plague?

Not sure if this comes under biology or history. Years ago, a chemistry professor gave us a short lesson on the history of nutmeg. He said, the priests in Europe wore pouches around their neck ...
13 votes
1 answer
275 views

Did anyone at the time blame the Great Plague on rats or fleas?

The Great Plague of London occurred in 1665, before the advent of the germ theory of disease. Nonetheless, people back then had some general notion that the disease could be spread through social ...
31 votes
3 answers
7k views

Where (if anywhere) were X-ray machines put on trains or trolleys to image "Everybody over 14 years old"?

The background image in this X-ray analysis sotfware page shows what looks like a trolley or train car on tracks with a sign that says "X-ray Now: Everybody over 14 years old". Where might ...
6 votes
1 answer
222 views

When did Averroes start to study medicine?

I'm doing research about Averroes, especially his interest in medical sciences. And I want to know his interest motivation, indication, and his age when he started to study medicine. I looked at what ...
1 vote
2 answers
258 views

Were there early modern precursors to eugenics?

Eugenics, which I'll define here as the selective breeding, sterilization, and biological engineering of humans with political or utopian aims, was a major historical force between the late Victorian ...
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was it like to have type 1 diabetes in the early 20th century?

Someone in my family died in 1924 of type 1 diabetes at the age of 26. What would life have been like for her? Would she have been in the hospital frequently? What was the average life-expectancy for ...
3 votes
1 answer
304 views

Were hippies in the USA "refused ambulance service" for some reason?

In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer buys an old ambulance from the 1960s (I think). This is very vague in my memory, but at some point, somebody says something along the lines of: Many hippies were ...
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why did slave dealers and buyers in the Antebellum South especially value enslaved persons with "good teeth" and "good front teeth"?

Open Yale Courses: HIST 119: The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877. Lecture 3 – A Southern World View: The Old South and Proslavery Ideology says, " Ads in newspapers, like this one in ...
2 votes
0 answers
188 views

Who treated Hitler when he was wounded in World War 1?

Hitler was wounded in World War 1 (October 1916) and was treated for two months at a hospital in Brandenburg. Is it recorded which doctor(s) treated Hitler during this period? If yes, did he/she say ...
8 votes
1 answer
998 views

What is the archaeological evidence for the Aztecs' use of entheogens?

A recent Skeptics question, Was honey used preserve psychoactive mushrooms in the ancient past?, caught my attention and I came upon the Wikipedia article on the Aztec use of entheogens. The article ...
-1 votes
1 answer
234 views

Origin of barber/surgeons: did it have to do with tools?

Although today it sounds absurd that someone who shaved men and I guess also cut hair would be entrusted to performing medical procedures, is it possible that few people had the tools or the ability ...
1 vote
2 answers
298 views

In what countries were plague doctor masks were most common?

Based on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_doctor_costume: The clothing worn by plague doctors was intended to protect them from airborne diseases during outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague in Europe. ...
6 votes
2 answers
7k views

Did healers in medieval Europe use moldy bread in poultices for wounds?

In a Song of Ice and Fire, injured characters are frequently given a poultice made of, amongst other things, moldy bread. We drowned the wound with boiling wine, and closed you up with a poultice ...
8 votes
4 answers
609 views

Was smoking ever considered a throat cure?

In the movie The King's Speech Prince Bertie at some point says his doctors had advised him to smoke, in order to improve his throat's condition. Does this stupid suggestion represent actual medical ...
-2 votes
1 answer
236 views

Is the former adviser to the prime minister Dominic Cummings related by marriage to Andrew Wakefield? [closed]

Is Dominic Cummings, the British prime minister's former chief adviser, related by marriage to Andrew Wakefield, director of the 2016 film "Vaxxed"? Dominic Cummings, the former adviser to ...
41 votes
2 answers
9k views

‘Avoid sleeping on your back’ & ‘breathe in toilet smells’ were seen as precautions against the Black Death. Why did doctors think these would work?

Browsing a school book, Medieval Britain by Brenda Williams, I came across three precautions recommended by doctors to help people avoid going down with the plague. These were: cover windows avoid ...
10 votes
2 answers
728 views

How old is the practice of removing wisdom teeth?

According to this brief history of wisdom teeth removal, wisdom teeth may have been helpful in prehistoric times, but are now removed due to their general incompatibility with the human jaw. However, ...
14 votes
2 answers
7k views

How did the Emperor Titus die?

How did Titus die? Do we have any historical sources that are less fanciful than the Babylonian Talmud, quoted below? Are there any other records of his symptoms prior to death? According to the ...
4 votes
3 answers
356 views

What did medical treatments for fractured or broken bones cost in 1900-1915?

Let's say that you are in the year 1915, living in rural Eastern Europe, and you just got badly injured in an earthquake (not a huge earthquake, just big enough to crumble a small and poorly built ...
0 votes
1 answer
476 views

Have there been negative large-scale long term effects from vaccines?

This is in regards to the COVID-19 vaccines. As far as I am concerned, the speedy availability is the conjunction of 3 things coming together: superior biotech compared to even 10 years ago, both in ...
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why was compulsory vaccination abandoned in the UK?

There is currently talk in the UK of making school attendance conditional on vaccination. Similar schemes operate in various places around the world now. Vaccination against smallpox was compulsory ...
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is the best book to learn about medicine in medieval times? (research for a novel)

I am writing a novel where the main character is a healer in medieval times / a low-technology environment. Most of his work would involve field medicine, or treating people generally as a village ...
11 votes
1 answer
18k views

How did Mehmed II die?

The different Wikipedias offer different stories. English Wikipedia claims poison as a likely cause of death: In 1481 Mehmed marched with the Ottoman army, but upon reaching Maltepe, Istanbul he ...
0 votes
1 answer
176 views

How prestigious was the medical profession given the inefficacy of most treatments?

I have read that doctors were until the advent of penicillin not more effective than not seeing one. I am not sure what that meant: surely for some things, it was better to see a physician than not to ...
11 votes
2 answers
556 views

Before 1961, what did they think would happen to people in weightlessness?

Reading up on the beginnings of human spaceflight, I came across this line on Wikipedia: [Vostok 1] was flown in an automatic mode as a precaution; medical science at that time did not know what ...
5 votes
1 answer
456 views

Prior to 1790, before dentist chairs, did dentists put the patient's head between their knees?

I read here (and similarly in a book of facts from the TV series QI), that in the 1700s, the dentist would have held your head between his knees as he operated. I have read that before dentist chairs,...
2 votes
1 answer
141 views

Does the long dense habitation and cultivation of lands correlate with a high incidence of tetanus and gangrene in badly disinfected wounds?

William Keen claims in his Treatment of war wounds (written at the end of WW1) that the soil of France, since it was inhabited and cultured since antiquity, was extraordinarily infected with bacteria ...
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What was the estimated malaria death toll for US Forces during World War II?

Recently I run onto an article listing 10 most deadliest epidemics in the human history, this contradictory article was from Russian website that looks rather low quality, but what attracted my focus ...
2 votes
3 answers
590 views

Why was gout so prevalent in the past among rich people?

I'd like a general explanation about this fact. I know it's a big error to judge behaviors in history with the current knowledge we have now, but for gout, people could have easily got to know that ...
2 votes
1 answer
233 views

Is there any truth to my family's story about "Cooper's Pie Wagon"?

According to family lore, my great-uncle Dr. John Cooper "was a surgeon on Gen. Sherman's and Gen. Fremont's staffs. Credited with the invention of the ambulance; soldiers nicknamed it as Cooper's "...
5 votes
2 answers
623 views

How common was it for Red Cross personnel to fight (in both World Wars)?

How common was it for Red Cross medical personnel to take part in military action on the battlefields (in both World Wars)? How was this received by the combatants (friendly and enemy)? The question ...
-1 votes
1 answer
316 views

How did ancient people treat acne? [closed]

In the modern era, people have creams and antibiotics to treat acne. How did ancient people treat acne given that there is rarely an ancient picture which illustrates ancient people with acne. Did ...
1 vote
1 answer
388 views

Is it true that first surgeons were barbers?

Talking with a friend, he told me that the first surgeons were the barbers. In part it made sense as they are used to cut and cure people as they shave them. Even the striped bar red white and blue ...
6 votes
1 answer
374 views

What was the impact of utilitarianism upon the development of psychiatric care in 18th-19th century England?

I'm interested in the impact of utilitarianism upon English psychiatric care by way of the philosophy's influence on social reformers. More tenuously, I want to know whether and in what ways ...
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

How were concussions treated in late 19th-century America?

It’s 1899 America, a person has a bleeding head wound after an impact (the rest of their body being unharmed for the sake of the focus question). They have a concussion and, when they wake up, they ...
-3 votes
2 answers
206 views

How was the black death spread? [closed]

When discussing the black plague, many historians believe it to be the bubonic plague transmitted by fleas on rats. I was wondering if there are any competing theories to what caused this mass death.
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Strong movement to deregulate professions in the 1960's?

In chapter 11, page 209, of his book "predictably irrational", Dan Ariely writes: "The word profession comes from the Latin professus, meaning "affirmed publicly." Professions started somewhere ...
8 votes
2 answers
956 views

Was there a time when it was easier for slaves than citizens to access state-sponsored medical facilities in Ancient Rome?

The Wikipedia article Medicine in Ancient Rome has this to say on the first hospitals in Rome: The Roman medical system saw the establishment of the first hospitals; these were reserved for ...
4 votes
1 answer
420 views

Did the "ancients" use lead plates to prevent pain in their knees?

While reading The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, I came upon the following line: Just before tea I told Nantz the anecdote of the ancients using lead plates to prevent pain in their knees, the ...
4 votes
1 answer
359 views

Did people during the Renaissance believe that the heart had two chambers?

Short question (adapted from @Oddthinking at Skeptics.SE): How many chambers did the scientific population of the world (excluding Leonardo da Vinci), think the human heart had during the Renaissance?...