Monthly Archives: September 2019

Nicholas Culpeper and Herbal Medicine

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig. 1 Nicholas Culpeper Apart from crude measures such as amputation and surgery without anesthesia, most medical treatments were ineffective until the twentieth century. Herbal remedies dominated from the time of ancient Hindu and Chinese cultures. Herbals were used by the Greek scholar Theophrastus (371 – 287 BC) and by […]

Smetana, his music, his illness

Bedřich (Frederic) Smetana was one of the major figures of nineteenth century European music. Regarded as the founder of the Czech national school of music, he composed The Bartered Bride opera and the symphonic poem “Má Vlast” (My Homeland) with its beloved Vlatava (The Moldau) melody. Like Ludwig van Beethoven, he composed exceptional music even […]

We are all hospitalized (metaphorically speaking)

F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States   Figure 1. Right section of an etching titled Infirmus eram et visitastis me: (“I was sick and you visited me,” quoted from Matthew 25:36), sometimes attributed to Cornelius Galle. The left section (not shown) has Jesus Christ overseeing the hospital visit. Among the many species of adversity that unavoidably […]

Spherocytosis

Andrea Lollo New York, New York, United States   Spherocytes as seen in the blood smear of a patient with hemolytic anemia. Source “Hereditary spherocytosis is a common inherited disorder that is characterised by anaemia, jaundice, and splenomegaly.” 1 It was odd, of course, for a ten-year-old to have gallstones. It was even stranger for me […]

“Rich man, poor man”: a history of lead poisoning

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Comfort in the Gout. Thomas Rowlandson. 1802. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The history of lead poisoning is the history of human industry. For unmarked time, lead has been around causing abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and irritability, as well as conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, reduced fertility, […]

William Richard Gowers MD., FRS.

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig. 1 Gowers’ Manual. A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System. J London: J. & A. Churchill 1886 The name Gowers is a name hallowed in the minds of most neurologists as one of the great founders of neurological medicine in the Victorian era. He is probably best remembered […]

Vampires and the Tuberculous Family

Sylvia Pamboukian Moon Township, PA   Public Health poster, New York National Child Welfare Association, ca. 1920-23. Library of Congress “The Tuberculous Family.” Listed by Library of Congress website with “No known restrictions on publication” An isolated village, a series of mysterious deaths, a mob in the graveyard at midnight—it sounds like the climax of […]

Burnout: Are we looking at it through the wrong lens?

Elizabeth Cerceo Camden, New Jersey, United States   The Exhausted Ragpicker. Jean François Raffaëlli. 1880. The Art Institute of Chicago. The epidemic of burnout seems to afflict ever more populations as it insidiously creeps into the workplace of everyone from nurses to teachers, from medical students to seasoned clinicians, from Amazon to Apple. As physicians, […]

George Bernard Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma

In the first act of Shaw’s play, several doctors come to congratulate Sir Colenso Ridgeon, recently knighted for discovering that white blood cells will not eat invading microbes unless they are rendered appetizing by being nicely buttered with opsonins. Patients supposedly manufacture these opsonins on and off, and would be cured if inoculated when their […]

It’s elementary: the addictions of Sherlock Holmes

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, USA   Illustration of Sherlock Holmes for “The Valley of Fear.” From The Strand Magazine. By Frank Wiley September, 1914. Accessed via the Toronto Public Library, Adventures with Sherlock Holmes virtual exhibit. One might ask, why write about the addictions of a fictional character? The answer is that there is […]