Category: medicine

Ayurveda’s Three Classics

Ayurveda, a ancient medical tradition from India, has three great ancient authors. Each is known for one significant text. Today they are understood to be compilation texts, summaries of schools of medicine at the time of their writing, but the authors are believed to have been real people who wrote each individual book. Like an encyclopedia.

Sushruta, writing sometime in the 600s BCE (probably) wrote the “Sushruta Samhita,” a treatise on medicine and surgery with a large section dedicated to medical instruments as well. Charaka, alive sometime in the 200s BCE, wrote a treatise focusing solely on medicine, the “Charaka Samhita.”

The third great author, Vagbhata, came much later in the 600s CE. His two major ayurvedic treatises similarly covered a broad swathe of medicine, but they also explicitly referenced the Sushruta Samhita and the Charaka Samhita, covering where they disagreed and the various solutions that had arose to those disagreements over the centuries.

Pathologic mandibular prognathism, or “H…

Pathologic mandibular prognathism, or “Habsburg jaw” is a deformity where the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw. In other words the person has a big chin. It most famously appeared in the Habsburg family, but it exists in the bloodlines of many other royal families of Europe, perhaps first appearing in Vlad the Impaler!

Pathologic mandibular prognathism, or “H…

Pathologic mandibular prognathism, or “Habsburg jaw” is a deformity where the lower jaw outgrows the upper jaw. In other words the person has a big chin. It most famously appeared in the Habsburg family, but it exists in the bloodlines of many other royal families of Europe, perhaps first appearing in Vlad the Impaler!

Sexism and Lobotomies

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, women were disproportionately given lobotomies during the psychiatric procedure’s heyday. From the 1940s through the mid-1950s, men slightly outnumbered women as patients in American state hospitals, yet female patients made up about 60 percent of those who underwent lobotomy. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.

Sexism and Lobotomies

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, women were disproportionately given lobotomies during the psychiatric procedure’s heyday. From the 1940s through the mid-1950s, men slightly outnumbered women as patients in American state hospitals, yet female patients made up about 60 percent of those who underwent lobotomy. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.

Harvard Used To Graduate Illiterate Doctors?

The title is mostly true! Back in the day, there were no national or even state-wide requirements for what a doctor had to know. So many were barely literate, learning their profession like apprentices more than students. When, in the 1870s, the new Harvard president wanted to have written exams before MDs were given their degrees, the faculty at Harvard protested!

Professor of Surgery Henry Bigelow, the most powerful faculty member, protested to the Harvard Board of Overseers, “[Eliot] actually proposes to have written examinations for the degree of doctor of medicine. I had to tell him that he knew nothing about the quality of the Harvard medical students. More than half of them can barely write. Of course they can’t pass written examinations… No medical school has thought it proper to risk large existing classes and large receipts by introducing more rigorous standards.”

historicaltimes: Re-enactment photo of the fi…

historicaltimes:

Re-enactment photo of the first public demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston on October 16, 1846.

via reddit

historicaltimes: Re-enactment photo of the fi…

historicaltimes:

Re-enactment photo of the first public demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston on October 16, 1846.

via reddit

Toothpaste Has Always Been Minty — Literally …

It’s toothpaste! Though a modern person likely would not recognize it. Ancient Egyptian toothpaste was made of rock salt, pepper, mint, and dried iris flowers. 

So here’s a bonus fun fact: toothpastes have been minty since there was toothpaste to be minty.

Embarrassed About Dandruff?

From a Portland newspaper, September 1883