The woman who peed through her nose

paruria erraticaThis is the most extraordinary and perplexing case of all the many I’ve sifted through while finding material for this blog. It was printed in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1827, and written by a Dr Salmon A. Arnold from Providence, Rhode Island.  Dr Arnold acknowledges in a footnote that a shorter account of the case had … Read more

Toast and herbs

William SalmonWilliam Salmon was a seventeenth-century physician and a prolific writer, the author of numerous books on surgery and internal medicine. He also practised alchemy and astrology in an age which regarded these disciplines as legitimate and empirical sciences (his contemporary Isaac Newton was also an enthusiastic alchemist).

In 1687 Salmon published a book entitled Παρατηρηματα (‘Observations’, for those few … Read more

In one side and out the other

Gunshot wound of the headVolume 6 of the Medical Facts and Observations, published in London in 1795, includes four cases submitted by a Dr Henry Yates Carter, who described himself as “surgeon at Kettley, near Wellington, in Shropshire”.  He was no mere country doctor: he had studied medicine in America and practised on the battlefields of the Revolution before returning to England in … Read more

The woman who vomited pins

Belford hospitalIn 1873 The Lancet reported this case from Belford Hospital, an institution which had been founded eight years earlier, and the first to serve the largely rural population around Fort William in Scotland. This was probably the strangest case anybody concerned had dealt with:

Catherine M, aged twenty, a nurse-maid, was admitted on August 30th, 1872. The patient stated Read more

Snake poo salesman

In 1862 an Edinburgh-trained physician, Dr James Hastings, published a slim volume about the treatment of tuberculosis and other diseases of the lung. It advocates the use of substances which much of the profession would regard as unorthodox, as he acknowledges in his preface:

It has been suggested that the peculiar character of these agents may possibly prove a bar Read more

The King of Smokers

king of smokersThere were plenty of doctors in the nineteenth century who thought that smoking was good for you; so there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary in this excerpt from an article published in the Medical Press and Circular in 1871:

So much, and often so much nonsense, is prated about the evils of tobacco that its virtues rarely get a Read more