Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Medical History and Actual Oddities with Tammy Strickland

Today I'd like to welcome Tammy Strickland to History Undressed! Here is a little info about today's guest blogger...

Being the quintessential Gemini, writing multiple genres wasn’t so much of a conscious choice as it was a necessity to be able to carry on conversations with dozens of brain dwellers (characters) at the same time without a 72 hour lock up.

An Emergency Department nurse for 19 years, Nurse of the Year 2005, Top 100 Nurses in the US in 2006, and comic relief extraordinaire has given me a huge range of interests.

RWA member since 2002, PRO -2004, President of Central Florida Romance Writers 2005 and 2006. Currently a member of the critique group aptly named “The Nuts of the Roundtable.”

Get ready for Tammy Strickland to tantalize our minds with medical history and actual oddities. Enjoy!

Historical Medical Practices

In 1809...

* Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22 lb. ovarian tumor at the time physicians beliebed injections of castile soap were the appropriate treatment for ovarian cancer.

* Emetics (purgatives) were recommended to clear breast cancer

* Benjamin Rush believed in "Enlightenment" a philosophy of Natural Law stating that the body is a machine and all diseases were caused by the overstimulation of the nerves and blood.

* Treatment for such maladies were to restore balance. Patients were bled, blistered, purged. These were called "heroic" medicines and sometimes the patient actually survived.

  • Venesection - cutting open vein to drain
  • Scarification - series of small cuts on arms, legs, back, wherever, to allow "poisons" to escape.
  • Cupping - warmed glass applied over a cut - worked by filling the glass as pressure dropped.
  • Blistering - hot plasters applied to skin to raise blisters then drain them.
  • Purgatives - Calomel most common - made from murcuruc chloride; in a small amount an effective laxative; in a large amount a purgative.

* France was leading the technology race by studying pathophysiology vs. treatment and temperature/pulse.

In 1819...

*Daniel Drake started the State Medical College of Ohio

In 1837...

* Sylvester Graham (of Graham Cracker fame) wrote the first book on the benefits of health foods.

In 1838...

*Graham also felt you could recognize a person who masturbated by certain tell-tale signs- they were usually, shy, suspicious, unconcerned with hygiene, jaundiced and had acne. He stated they would grow up with a body full of disease and a mind full of ruins.

* John Kellogg (of cereal fame) founded a "Wellness Clinic." He was obsessed with bowels. His clinic was an enema machine to run 15 gallons of water through in seconds. Then the patient recieved one pint of yogurt-1/2 to eat and 1/2 by enema to replace the "happy" flora of the bowel.

*Kellogg also professed that circumcision for boys and pure carbolic acid treatments for girls was the only way to cure them of sexual thoughts. For those who were not cleared of impure thoughts and found themselves in the family way - the advised methods of ridding pregnancy were to jump from a table; roll on the floor; take abortificients or use blunt instruments.

In 1840...

* United States abolished physician licensing stating anyone was free to practice healing-the business was so profitable that the government placed a war tax to raise funds for civil war (By 1859 -$3.5 million business & by 1904 $74.5 million in business)

*Sears catalogue sold a morphine laced mixture intended to be slipped into the husband's coffee in order to keep him home at night. Those women were the first addicts.

*Patent medicine could be ordered through the mail; importated through Europe and sold by postmasters, goldsmiths, grocers and tailors.

*Secret Nostrums and Systems were published-the first recipe book for do it yourself patent meds.

*Temperence followers wanted theirs with alcohol. Most were laced with cocaine, caffiene, opium, morphine.

*Florence Nightingale thought washing your hands was a good thing. Set up Nurses Corp. only accepting nurses who were over thirty years old and of plain appearance.

In 1844...

*Goodyear/Hancock Company produces vulcanized rubber condoms. Not widely recieved.

In 1851...

* Dorthea Dix became superintendent of US Nursing Corp. Took knowledge to the trenches of civil war.

In 1861...

*First advertisment for condoms in American paper for, "Dr. Power's French Preventatives"

In 1862...

* Evacuation system initiated to remove wounded from battlefield. Periodic "breaks" were called to clear the field. Then they resumed fighting like civilized people.

*Dr. William Hammond proposed that during the War two died from disease for every one dying from wounds (560,000 to 200,000). Field surgeons had no anesthesia - they waited for patients to go into shock when heart rate highest they amputate. Studied gangrene and use of bromine to wounds.

In 1872...

*American Public Health Association founded - developed "Germ Theory" that all disease could be contagious.

* Also during the Civil War-mass production of condoms- old method was to use section of "sheep gut" soaked, turned inside out, macerated in alkaline solution, scraped, exposed to brimstone vapors, rewashed, blown up, dried out, cut and for aesthetics they were given a colored ribbon. The user had to soak them for suppleness.

In 1873...

*Just when we thought we were making breakthroughs - Dr. Robert Battery professes that removing the ovaries would cure insanity in women.

* The law of continence by John Cowan states that married couples should have sex only every two years to procreate and then on a sunny August or September day when the sun's electricity correlates to the parent's electricity.

Medications and Everyday Household Items:

* Acentine- derived form the plant monkshood relieves arthritic pain but when ingested paralyzes the body organs until the patient dies of heart failure.

* Atropine-used widely in hospitals and emergency settings. Derived from Deadly Nightshade plant. When ingested causes headaches, hallucinations, coma, and death. Also found in the medication Lomotil (for diarrhea)

* Thallium- readily found in the body and in nature. Used thousands of times daily for cardio-stress tests. This tasteless medication dissolves in water and replaces potassium in the cells and nerves. Great poison as it dissipates easily and is widely used.

* Ricin- made from castor oil seeds. Considered to be one of the highest biological warfare weapons available today. Has an enormous effect due to its ease of dilution into water and air streams. Ricin is 500 times more powerful than cyanide and anyone in possession of even minute amounts is considered high alert on the Homeland Security list and usually arrested for Federal Charges.

*Willow Bark- once chewed on for headaches and tooth aches, is now known as Aspirin.

* Foxglove- plant responsible for natural digitalis. Heart medication.

* Crocus plant- although the consumption of the plant is more often deadly than not, the medication derived from it is great for gout relief. Colchicine.

* Mud Baths- while mud is a soothing property, check your sources. Only partake in sterile mud. Non-sterile mud is most likely from someone’s back yard and comes with all the organisms therein. Clostridium, Ghiardia (not the chocolate), and most often really lusty ringworms. Trust me when I say that there are places that you should remain sacred from ringworm.

* Kola Marque- French stimulant made from cocaine.

* 4% Cocaine still used in hospitals to control epitasis (fancy term for nosebleeds)

* 1873 Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound was first introduced. Treatment for “female weaknesses” became so popular for its curative properties it was soon the cure all for nearly everything. Some believe it was due to the huge percentage of alcohol.

* Leeches- found in your local swimming hole. Used throughout history for draining an inflamed area of blood to reduce swelling and bruising. Still used today. **Leeches are used where epinephrine is prohibited. In medicine we have a saying about epinephrine. Never use on fingers, toes, penis, nose. **

* Black Cohosh plant is a great pain reliever

* Black Pepper, Spider webs, or Spanish moss are fantastic blood staunchers.

* Nutmeg- during Victorian times, nutmeg was made into a tea for its hallucinogenic properties.

* Cloves are a natural impotence remedy.

* Mescal, or peyote is a cactus from the southern US. Native Americans use it to enhance communication with their spirits.

* Rhubarb in 1800’s was prescribed for the purging of hypochondriac constitutions, but its real intention was to expel worms.

* Celery and pineapple will enhance the taste of seminal fluids, whereas broccoli will cause a bitter taste.

* Black lights found in the kid’s rooms are cool for many reasons-one is to detect the presence of sperm. Shines Day-Glo under fluorescence.

* Maggots are great for wound care. They are placed on the poorly circulating tissue, allowed to eat to their little gluttonous heart’s content and when they morph into flies they are released and they wound is in better shape to heal.

Crime Scene Evidence

* Body temperature falls roughly 1.5 to 2 degrees per hour for the 1st 12 hours.

* When the body isn’t found right away, flies lay eggs on the flesh. The eggs hatch around 14 hours-maggots. Maggots transform in 3 stages and are considered full grown in 10-12 days. Great evidence for timing a death.

* RigorMortis- the stiffness of death

* Livor Mortis- the bruising of death.

* Death from an injury high on the cervical spine will most often leave the body with a priaprism (erection) due to the sympathetic/parasympathetic tone loss. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot high in the neck.


* Pythogenesis- term for diseases believed to spontaneously generate from filth.

* Piloerections- goosebumps

* Blepharospasms- eye twitches

* Sphygmomanometer- blood Pressure apparatus

* Trepannning- holes drilled in the skull of a live person to relieve evil spirits

* Humors- Earlier medicine practitioners believed keeping the 4 humors in balance would relieve all illness. Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, Black Bile.

* Cupping- a piece of lint was caught fire, placed in a metal cup, cup placed onto wound, sore area, etc. As lint burned out, the oxygen removed from the cup created a vacuum and pulled the area into the cup in an attempt to remove pus, whatever. Usually just caused horrible blisters.

* Bloodletting- opening a vein and draining 1 to whatever amount of blood from a person. George Washington was said to have died from falling from his horse, from a sore throat, from many things. It is most likely he died from the 9 pints of blood that were drained form him in less than 24 hours. The norm then was 1-4 pints per letting. Today the blood bank standards are around 1 pint per 120 days.

* 1547- Ambroise Pare introduced the idea that suturing wounds would kill less infantry men than the cauterizing of the freshly amputated limb with iron pokers fresh from the fire.

* 1847- Ignaz Semmelweiss taught his students to wash their hands in order to reduce infections. He was forced to resign his job in Vienna for spouting nonsensical ideas

* Insipidus versus Mellitus in diabetics- until as recent as 25 years ago it was standard practice for the physician to taste the urine of his patient to see if it was sweet or plain. Different treatments for sweet diabetics than non-sweet. Now known as Type I, Type II.

* Persons of violent passions in 1817 were prescribed to be ‘thrown in a cold bath headlong over and over again until calm or weak.”

* 1780- “When the neck is dislocated, the patient is immediately deprived of all sense and motion. To reduce this dislocation the head must be pulled with considerable force, gently twisting at the same time. Afterward, the patient should be bled and rest in bed for some days.”

* “Intense Thinking and inactivity never fail to weaken the powers of digestion.”

* 1916 Margaret Sanger opened the first US birth control clinic. She spent a month in prison for her crime.

* Medieval Europe- the church frowned on bathing as it was ‘perceived to be a bodily pleasure.”

* 1700’s Benjamin Franklin introduced the idea of “air bathing” by sitting naked in front of a open window.

* 1792- King Hammurabi wrote his infamous ‘Code of Hammurabi’ in it details 17 rules and guidelines of punishment for when a doctor’s treatments failed to work.

* During the days of Piracy, the oft written code for maiming was: One’s right arm being their sword arm received 600 pieces of eight. Left arm or either leg earned 500 pieces of eight. One eye garnered 100 pieces of eight.

* 1871- During the Siege of Paris- the town’s citizens resorted to eating the zoo animals when their stores ran out.

The Inventive minds of Rednecks, Naturalists, The people who make duct tape, and those in serious need of therapy.

* Rustoleum spray paint can lids are not to be used as Redneck diaphragms.

* Duct tape will seal any wound, anywhere.

* Icy Hot gels are good for topical application. Strongly recommend not using it as a sexual lubricant.

* When your child gets a bead stuck in one side of his nose. Save yourself a ton of money and frustration. Waft some pepper under his nose. One violent sneeze will save you a trip to the ER.

* Use caution when camping not to use honey scented lotions on your feet. Rats are known to love honey flavored toes.

* When your dear hubby has a fish hook caught in himself. Use a pair of wire snips. Snip off the barb end, pull it back through the entry hole and slap some antibiotic ointment on it.

* When travelling greater the 1 hour before dinner, you can cook your dinner while on the road. Get a heavy aluminum pie tin; slice carrots, potatoes, onions and layer them on the bottom. Pat out a hamburger relatively thin and of a size to cover the vegetables. Cover well with foil, place and secure on to of the engine. Drive until meat done. Tasty!

* When your best brew pot of coffee has excess grounds in it. Wait ‘til they settle to the bottom then slowly crack an egg into the coffee. The egg will settle to the bottom and attach to most of the grounds. Pour away.

* Maalox, Head and Shoulders/ Selsun Blue shampoos are fantastic for healing and preventing bedsores.

* Regular toothpaste, just a smidge on a zit and cover with a band aid. Gone ASAP.

References available upon request.


Sophia Johnson said...

Tammy, thank you for a very informative blog. I mailed it to myself for future reference.
I've ussed Brother Cadfail's Herb Gardens when looking up herbs/etc for medieval medicines.
Much easier having your blog for ideas!
It was a lot of fun reading, too!
Sophia Johnson

Sarah Simas said...

Good grief! That's a huge list! But so informative. I about busted a gut reading about the condoms! LOL Kind of like that episode on Seinfield- "Are you sponge-worthy?" Well, in this case, it's "Are you wash-n-wear ready?" LOL OMG! I loved it! Thanks, Eliza.

Gwynlyn said...

As with many of today's pharmacudicals, it sound like the treatment is worse than the affliction! This was funny, informative, and a little (okay, a LOT) scary.

Anonymous said...


thanks for the very informative post. I would love to see your references. There were a few things you mentioned that I have been looking for in on. Got anything on the first use of electricity in reviving the heart?

Thanks! Awesome info and yes, as with today - often the cure is more dangerous than the affliction. Scary - the more things change, the more they stay the same, savvy? Here, take this pill, it will cure impotence... and may kill you in a dozen different ways. By the way, if up for more than 4 hours... use it wisely.

Terry Irene Blain said...

If you're going to try cooking your hamburgers on you engine, you better make sure to put the foil packet on the exhaust manifold -- this was a fun thing to do in the late fifties, early sixties.

Poor George Washington - one of the last things he said was "I die hard". Both Martha and his body servant (slave) Willy Lee stayed by his bedside the whole time it took him to die.

Anonymous said...

great blog