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Bad History, doctors, drugs, films, menstruation

Queen Victoria’s cannabis habit: again

Queen Victoria still grips our imaginations. The latest revelations, coming soon in the movie 'Victoria and Abdul', concern her attachment to an Indian Muslim called Abdul Karim, presented to her as a 'gift from India'. The book on which the film is based was written by Shrabani Basu. Although most of the Queen's letters to… Continue reading Queen Victoria’s cannabis habit: again

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Bad History, doctors, drugs, love, sex

Cleopatra and the vibrator powered by bees

One of the most far-fetched myths about ancient sexuality, repeated online but also in print, is that Cleopatra invented the vibrator. Some sites date this event to ‘circa 54 BC’ while others go for 45 BC: there’s nothing like a date to make a story look more convincing. Now, there’s obviously one little problem here:… Continue reading Cleopatra and the vibrator powered by bees

Galen, magic, museums and collections

Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

A few years ago, I saw images of an object that was new to me twice, in as many days. It was this pictured lead sling-shot from the fourth century BC, found in Athens and now in the collections of the British Museum (object reference no. 1851,0507.11). The first time the image was circulated on… Continue reading Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

alternative medicine, Bad History, doctors, Hippocrates, remedies, sex, womb

I can forgive Gwyneth for the jade eggs and mugwort, but not for this rubbish about Hippocrates…

Like many people, I find the claims of Gwyneth Paltrow's 'modern lifestyle brand' Goop pretty irritating. I was sufficiently cross about the claims for the benefits of vagina steaming that I wrote something for The Conversation about it. And I loved Dr Jen Gunter's blog post about jade eggs and in particular the way Gunter gently… Continue reading I can forgive Gwyneth for the jade eggs and mugwort, but not for this rubbish about Hippocrates…

Bad History, doctors, drugs, Hippocrates, menstruation, pregnancy, sex, womb

IUD or not IUD? Did the Hippocratics invent the first intrauterine device?

"Around 400 B.C., writers from the Hippocrates school discussed a contraceptive similar to the intrauterine device (IUD) of today. This particular apparatus was a hollow tube filled with mutton-fat..." Really??