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Regency Doctors Threw Tobacco Up the Butt

Recently I was browsing online and discovered this highly entertaining blog by Terynn Boulton titled "When Doctors Literally Blew Smoke Up Your Arse." Blowing tobacco smoke up a patient's bowel was used in cases of "suspended animation" or, in other words, to revive,...

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Fanny Burney and the Seven Men in Black

Last Friday, September 30, 2016, was the 205th anniversary of Fanny Burney’s mastectomy—without anesthesia. Here’s her story. “Yet—when the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast—cutting through veins—arteries—flesh—nerves—I needed no injunctions not to restrain...

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Childbed Fever: 18th-Century Cures

My previous post on childbed fever described the widespread belief that childbed fever — what today we call puerperal infections — was mainly caused by breathing foul, noxious air that arrived on the wind, permeated hospital furniture and people's clothing, or...

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Quinsy: A Classic Example of Regency Ignorance

My previous blog post addressed the practice of "medical moonshine" during the Regency era. In Jane Austen's day miasma — the foul, noxious, polluted air arising from swampy ground or cesspools — was believed to cause most diseases. For chemists and glass-makers and...

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