Questions tagged [medicine]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
36
votes
2answers
8k 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 ...
29
votes
9answers
6k views

Why was PTSD not written about as much before the 20th century?

As late as WW1 there was very little literature surrounding PTSD/'shellshock'. In fact, the term was not coined until the 1980's. Considering the fact that warfare has been a part of human life since ...
29
votes
3answers
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 this have ...
23
votes
5answers
5k views

How did a besieged city/castle defend itself vs. catapulting diseased dead bodies into it?

I was a bit shocked to read that diseased dead bodies/animals where catapulted into besieged castles/towns. Biological warfare in the middle ages. But this "method" of warfare had probably a lot of ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

What historical conditions (culture, technology, events, etc.) contributed to China's current lead in population?

If their growth rate was comparable to the rest of the world over the past several millenia, then was it only a matter of having a "head start"? (If so, then how did this initial condition come to be?...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Source of quote attributed to Florence Nightingale: To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics

This is another classic quotation in the history of statistics, attributed to Florence Nightingale: To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose....
16
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
7k views

What was the life expectancy of an ancient Roman child and adult?

I'm assuming the average life expectancy of a Roman did not change very much between 500 BC - 500 AD (?), as there was probably no significant progress in medical knowledge or nutrition. Do historians ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

Did the syphilis epidemic start the 16th and 17th century wig craze?

I've read that one reason that the nobility attending royal court in the 17th century had a passion for wigs, powdered faces, and gloves was the then prevalence of syphilis. By this reasoning those ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the story behind this photo of hikers who brought white plague cure to President Wilson?

"LOS ANGELES HIKERS WHO BROUGHT WHITE PLAGUE CURE TO PRESIDENT WILSON. AT WHITE HOUSE" I stumbled upon this interesting photo at the United States Library of Congress site, which seems to refer to ...
13
votes
2answers
940 views

Why did physicians recommend curing the “dancing plague” with more dancing?

The Dancing Plague of 1518 was an event in which nearly 400 people in Strasbourg danced for days on end, some even dying of exhaustion or other causes. One section of the Wikipedia article has me ...
13
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
601 views

When did people understand where children come from?

What is the oldest source that people knew for sure what makes a woman pregnant? For such a source I understand that that the author knew what a man and a woman did 9 months before giving birth and ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What oath did medical students take in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945?

The World Medical Association responded to Nazi medical atrocities not by reasserting the time-tested Hippocratic oath, but by asserting a new modern oath, subject to change every 10 years. Source: ...
11
votes
2answers
511 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the ancient origins of the Medicine Ball?

Seeing this question about the oldest known exercise equipment, I remembered a scene from I, Claudius when Tiberius is working out with a medicine ball, so I thought that might be a good candidate. I ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

How was body temperature checked before thermometers?

Medicine always advances, and it's obvious that many decades or centuries ago, some medical procedures were done differently. I'd like to find out about how body temperature was checked in the past ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

Was there any way to deal with infections in pre-modern times?

Today, an infection isn't usually too serious of a problem, with so many kinds of antibiotics available. Was there any way to deal with infections in pre-modern times? Let's say before 1700.
10
votes
2answers
264 views

Cuban medical internationalism

In the decades since the Cuban revolutions the country's medical doctors famously served on many semi-official missions abroad. For instance, it has been reported that Venezuela under Hugo Chavez ...
10
votes
1answer
829 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
239 views

Health precautions before going into Battle of Trafalgar and other battles

Tom Pocock's The Terror Before Trafalgar: Nelson, Napoleon, and the Secret War contains this memorable description of preparations aboard HMS Victory immediately before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805:...
9
votes
1answer
721 views

What is the meaning of Verte! at the end of Sisi’s autopsy report?

The following document is a picture of a copy of the autopsy report of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, on display in the Sisi Museum in Vienna. It describes, in French, the wounds and the cause of death ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

When did the first organ transplant operation occur?

Is it in 800 AD or 1800 AD. Was it done in Rome? Was it done in India? What was the name of the surgeon?
9
votes
3answers
557 views

When did western doctors first start predicting prenatal diseases and disabilities?

At what point did western medicine become invested in the idea of predicting that children might be born with specific illnesses or disabilities prior to their actual birth? And at what point did ...
9
votes
0answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
967 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
729 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
509 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
706 views

How did society regard identical twins in the 17th century in Europe?

How did society react about and approach identical twins in Europe, mainly around the 17th century?
8
votes
2answers
923 views

Were certain soldiers considered to be neutral by both sides?

Not sure how to word this... I remember back in high school learning about World War II, and I distinctly remember that my teacher made a mention that "medics would often have to clear the ...
8
votes
1answer
308 views

Robert Hookes Diary - Why would he have bought and drunk Vomit?

I have been reading extracts from Robert Hookes diary located here between the dates 1672-1680, on at least eight occasions he describes taking vomit and sometimes even using a feather to induce ...
8
votes
1answer
266 views

What is the first verified twin study?

Today I learned that Swedish king Gustav III supposedly took two twin brothers that had been convicted for murder and had them drink three pots of coffee and tea respectively per day. He supposedly ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Who is Heckler?

On researching the Black Plague I have a few times run into the name of "Heckler" who supposedly is the source for the information that 25% of the population of Europe was killed by the plague. For ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why was health insurance not included in the Social Security Act of 1935?

The United States has spent much of the last two decades, for instance, arguing about how best to reform the odd public-private health insurance scheme that grew up around Franklin Roosevelt’s ...
7
votes
2answers
825 views

Is there support for the theory that the 1918 influenza resulted from churning up microbe-laden French soil?

Margaret MacMillan's The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 contains the following: In the first years of the peace, fresh afflictions fell on European society: the influenza epidemic (...
7
votes
2answers
687 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
750 views

What are the archaeological evidence for the Aztec's 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
158 views

Treatments for the Plague

We have all heard of the Plague Doctors, but is there any information on the Treatments that they offered the sick? I have looked at the work of Guy de Chauliac but I have been unable to find a copy ...
7
votes
1answer
164 views

What is the earliest passage that describes Hippocrates' observation that blood stratifies into four layers?

A few articles (such as "Misconceptions about Medieval Medicine: Humors, Leeches, Charms, and Prayers") state that Hippocrates observed that blood, when removed from the body, would separate into four ...
6
votes
4answers
11k views

When was acne first recorded in human history and how did it develop?

When was acne first recorded in human history? I have seen some youtube videos from Japan people who said that acne was non-existing many years ago (in Japan) but now it is prevalent. Are there any ...
6
votes
1answer
212 views

What did people die of in 1665 London?

Wikipedia has an example Bill of Mortality from 1665, listing the causes of death for the London area. Many of the terms in it are unfamiliar, though, eg. "Kings Evill", "Rupture", "Livergrown". In ...
6
votes
1answer
517 views

Has Nursing Always Been Female Dominated Like Today (90+%)?

I had a discussion with a nursing friend (male nurse) and he said that he wouldn't be a nurse if he had the chance again due to often being asked to do things no other nurse wants (like getting the ...
6
votes
1answer
121 views

Medieval physician Cornelius Shilander?

I am doing a research related to history of military medicine. I came up with a book published 1596 by Cornelius Shilander. https://archive.org/details/corneliusshiland00schi I have tried to do ...
6
votes
1answer
561 views

When penicillin was initially introduced, was it effective against all gram positives?

I'm trying to investigate the history of resistance. Just how good was penicillin when it first emerged? Were there any gram positives it couldn't get?
6
votes
1answer
342 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
551 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the snake or asp the primary logo of medicinal organisations?

As an Army Medic and now a workplace First Aider I see the asp used as a logo almost everywhere. Why was it chosen as the animal of choice for the medicinal profession and is there any animal or ...
5
votes
2answers
867 views

Why was Tsesarevich Alexei's hemophilia a state secret?

Alexei inherited hemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her maternal grandmother Queen Victoria. In 2009 genetic analysis determined specifically that he ...
5
votes
2answers
539 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
346 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,...