William Harvey at the Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians in London, which celebrates its 500th anniversary later this year, is currently staging a small exhibition devoted to one of its most celebrated former Fellows. William Harvey was a prominent member of the College in the 17th century, when he was also personal physician to Charles I.  In 1628 he … Continue reading William Harvey at the Royal College of Physicians

Mr Trought’s tobacco enema

In June 1828 the Lancet published a pair of short case histories that contemporary readers must have found rather confusing. Printed on the same page, they both dealt with cases in which a strangulated hernia had been treated with a tobacco enema (yes, really: an infusion of tobacco administered via the anus). In the first … Continue reading Mr Trought’s tobacco enema

Plagiarising the past

In 1850 a doctor from New Buckenham in Norfolk, Horace Howard, submitted this short case report to The Lancet: The patient, Maria N— aged twenty-three years, had experienced for a long time much irritation about the kidneys and urinary apparatus, for which different palliative remedies were administered, but with little relief. The patient was lost … Continue reading Plagiarising the past

The spermatorrhoea alarm

In 1843 the Provincial Medical Journal published a landmark paper by Dr W.H. Ranking from Suffolk. It was a ‘landmark’ in that it was the first full-length publication in English to discuss a new disease that was soon to become the scourge of the male population: spermatorrhoea.  Or, in plain English, involuntary ejaculation. The person … Continue reading The spermatorrhoea alarm