Quackery: A Brief History on the Worst Ways to Cure Everything is indeed what it says on the box. We have an intro into what each method is, and then how awful it was and why. It’s very informative, but for each thing it comes across as a Very Big Deal. Each of these methods were indeed used, but it seems like the authors over-inflate their importance.
Mercury (I’m sure everyone knows by now that medically, Mercury is a Very Bad Thing)
Antimony (I wasn’t familiar with this, and forgot it was even an element (Number 51, Sb). It makes you throw up, and it’s also known as kohl. The cosmetic, not the store. It’s also used in batteries and bullets!)
Radium and Radon (Who wants a radioactive skeleton?)
Strychnine (Like coffee, only deadly. Stick with Starbucks!)
Cocaine (They would lace wine with cocaine, but it was getting expensive in the states, so Coca Cola came to be invented. They take the cocaine out of the beverage now, but the flavor of the leaves is still present! Was also used to treat morphine addiction. Wait a minute…)
Earth (Eating dirt, or clay. But special dirt or clay!)
Bloodletting (She said that Mozart died from bloodletting, or at least that hastened his death, but I was pretty sure he died of syphilis.) (After looking into it more, they don’t really know what killed him. Probably an infection of some kind, but even so, most sources don’t pin it on bloodletting as being a major source.)
Lobotomy (I didn’t know about Rosemary Kennedy, her illness, or her eventual lobotomy. It’s a very sad story.)
Cautery & Blistering
Enemas & Clysters
Hydropathy & the Cold Water Cure (It’s amazing the things that could be ‘healed’ by drinking enough water!)
Leeches (Apparently England started running out of leeches, the practice was so popular. I am surprised they didn’t mention maggots as a medical tool at all, though.)
Cannibalism & Corpse Medicine (You can make a jam out of human blood. Blood jam. Gross.)
Electricity (Let’s take a bath in electrified water!)
Animal Magnestism (Better known as Mesmerism)
Light (Blue light was said to heal things for a while. Is that when those blue sunglasses that are so fashionable with the steampunk crowd came into fashion?)
Radionics (Because when you’re sick, your electrons vibrate at a different frequency. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works…)
The King’s Touch (This was frequently used to treat scrofula, which is an infection of the lymph nodes usually caused by tuberculosis. It manifests in large painless growths in the neck, and it was said that the King (in both England and France) could heal the disease with a touch, having the Divine Right, and all that.)
It seems like everything was used to treat epilepsy. Is it that widespread of a condition? Or did they just not understand it very well?
There will always be quacks, or people who believe in the ultimate cure, or who just want to make a quick buck. I’m sure people in the future will look back at our current cures and think they’re ridiculous. (Especially with all of the chemicals we routinely pump into our bodies.) But until we learn and discover more, all we can do is hope for the best and trust our doctors, and hope they aren’t proven to be quacks.
This fulfills the CBR10 Bingo square of “Not My Wheelhouse,” as medical things and non-fiction are not my usual choices!