Tag Archives: France

American ginseng as an herbal emissary influencing Qing-American trade relations

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Panax quinquefolium, as featured in a book by physician-botanist Jacob Bigelow, late 1810s. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. On February 22, 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York Harbor.1 Destined for the eponymous country, the American ship carried thirty tons of a wild root—ginseng. […]

Book Review: The Origins of AIDS

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover: The Origins of AIDS, Jacques Pépin. This is a revised and updated edition of a book first published in 2011. This edition is timely, as this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the first descriptions of the disease today known as AIDS. In 1981 Gottlieb and co-workers […]

Obesity in the Middle Ages: Sancho el Craso

Nicolás Roberto Robles   Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Imaginary portrait. Sancho I El Craso. José María Rodríguez de Losada. between circa 1892 and circa 1894. Public domain. Via Wikimedia. “Severe obesity restricts body movements and maneuvers . . . breathing passages become blocked and do not pass good air . . . these patients […]

The three contraries of Benjamin Franklin: “the gout, the stone and not yet master of all my passions”

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1: Portrait of Benjamin Franklin. From a carbonic alloy engraving, drawn by C. N. Cochin 1777, engraved by A.H. Richie. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia  On May 23, 1785, Benjamin Franklin wrote from Passy on the outskirts of Paris to George Whatley that “at Fourscore the three […]

The first effective chemotherapy for cancer

Marshall A. Lichtman Rochester, New York, United States   Caution: Chemotherapy. Photo by Justin Levy. Via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0   Sulfur mustard gas had no influence on the outcome of the battle at Ypres during World War I despite the many deaths and severe injuries it inflicted. Since then, chemical weapons have been used in […]

Salernitan women

Vicent Rodilla Alicia López-Castellano Valencia, Spain   Figure 1. A miniature from Avicenna’s Canon representing the Salernitan Medical School. Source The first medical school in the Western world is thought to be the Schola Medica Salernitana (Figure 1), which traces its origins to the dispensary of an early medieval monastery.1 The medical school at Salerno […]

The global journey of variolation

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   A human hand with smallpox pustules. Colored etching by W.T. Strutt. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Humanity has eliminated only one infectious disease—smallpox. Smallpox is a very old disease and efforts to prevent it are almost as old. They included a technique called variolation, also […]

Book review: A Time for All Things. The Life of Michael E. DeBakey by Craig Miller

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, UK   Cover of A Time for All Things. The Life of Michael E. DeBakey by Craig A. Miller In the latter half of the twentieth century, Michael DeBakey was a worldwide household name, a remarkable feat for a surgeon in the days before the cult of celebrity had become part of […]

Heinrich Heine and the mattress tomb

Nicolás Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Harry Heine was born in Bolkerstrasse, Düsseldorf, Germany. He jokingly described himself as the “first man of the century,” claiming that he had been born on New Year’s Eve 1800. Researchers have discovered, however, that December 13, 1797, is most likely the date of his birth. The oldest of […]

Jean Mery, distinguished French surgeon

Jean Mery. Unknown artist. Collège de chirurgie, Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de santé: CIPB1509. Jean Mery lived largely in the days of the Sun-King Louis XIV, when France was still rich and powerful and had not yet spent itself into bankruptcy. Born in central France in 1645, he followed in his father’s footsteps at eighteen and went […]