diseases, doctors, food, Galen, Hippocrates, menstruation, remedies

Humoral medicine: a beginner’s guide

How do we know what's wrong with our bodies? We may be aware of symptoms – of pains, twinges, immobility. We can also aware of some of our bodily fluids: our saliva, sweat, urine, menses or semen. Sometimes a fluid which is clearly abnormal emerges from an orifice or a wound. If we seek medical treatment, our blood… Continue reading Humoral medicine: a beginner’s guide

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drugs, food, remedies, sex

What is it about the pangolin?

British trains now commonly have posters encouraging travelers to text a small donation to a charity. This could be a charity supporting people, or one helping animals. Yesterday, however, I saw a poster for what was a new cause for me: a charity aiming at preventing pangolins from becoming extinct. It’s a long time since I’ve… Continue reading What is it about the pangolin?

doctors, drugs, food, love, remedies, sex

Poisons and love potions

Everybody knows that the ancient Greek word pharmakon means both healing drug and poison. So how could you tell the (rather important!) difference? In Latin, the equivalent term venenum was similarly used in both senses, and Roman law codes tried to tie down that ambiguity by making it clear whether a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’… Continue reading Poisons and love potions

death, food, Galen, remedies

Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

I've mentioned in a previous post my time working in Vienna. When I was there, I became fascinated by the cemeteries: in particular, the Zentralfriedhof, which is so big that there are three tram stops along its perimeter and a special shuttle bus to get around inside, as it takes so long to walk from one end… Continue reading Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

diseases, food, Galen, menstruation, remedies

Constipation in History

Faeces are big news: every few months another story appears pointing to the potential benefits of faecal transplants in a range of bowel conditions. The internet includes DIY advice along with suggestions of banking our own poo so that we can reboot our digestive system from it if anything goes wrong. Examining the patient’s bodily products,… Continue reading Constipation in History