Category:
Health

Regained sight after fall

Another case of an improbable cure.

Eugene W. Phillips, 60, had been blind for 16 years. Then, in August 1972, he fell off his back porch, puncturing his back with a stick and hitting his head on the ground. But he also partially regained sight in one eye. His doctor concluded that the fall had jarred loose a membrane that had been covering the optic nerve.

Bonham Daily Favorite - Aug 8, 1972



Provo Daily Herald - Aug 9, 1972



Related:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Health, 1970s, Eyes and Vision

Intestinal Chimney Sweeps

Back in the early twentieth century, the French laxative Jubol ran an ad campaign that featured tiny chimney sweeps climbing up into intestines and scrubbing them out.

It reminds me of that old urban legend about Richard Gere and the gerbils.

Image source: vintage-ads — historical source: Rire - Dec 14, 1918



"Voila le petit ramoneur de l'intestin..." (Here's the little chimney sweep of the intestines)
L'Illustration - June 10, 1916

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 28, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, Advertising, 1910s

The man whose blindness, deafness, and baldness was cured by lightning

We've reported a few cases on WU of people who have experienced accidental (and improbable) cures, such as the woman whose deafness was cured by a sneeze. One of the most famous examples of this phenomenon is the case of Edwin Robinson, who claimed that being struck by lightning cured him of his blindness and near-total deafness.

The lightning strike occurred on June 4, 1980 when he ventured outside of his home in Falmouth, Maine to rescue his pet chicken from the rain. After lying unconscious for 20 minutes, the 62-year-old Robinson awoke to find himself cured of the ailments that had plagued him since a road accident nine years earlier. An ophthalmologist who examined him, Dr. Albert Moulton of Portland, said: "There is no question but that his vision is back. He can't move his eyes, but his central vision is back... I can't explain it. I don't know who can. I know some of my peers in Washington, maybe, will say it's hysterical blindness. I can't see it. It couldn't have lasted this long. From the physical findings originally, he was definitely blind."

Edwin Robinson reads about his miraculous recovery



Later, Robinson even claimed that new hair had begun to grow on his bald head. He remarked to the NY Times, "I'm all recharged now, literally... It's coming in thick. My wife is all excited about it. I was bald for 35 years. They told me it was hereditary."

Los Angeles Times - July 5, 1980



Later, Timex took advantage of Robinson's fame to feature him in a 1990 ad. Although the messaging seems a bit confused. Once broken, but now miraculously fixed?

Also, it's hard to tell, but he doesn't seem to have a full head of hair. He must have lost it again.

Source: AdsPast.com



St. Louis Post Dispatch - June 7, 1980

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 24, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, 1980s, Eyes and Vision

The Wonder Glove

It was a mitten lined with “uranium ore,” sold in the early twentieth century as a cure for arthritis. It was part of the fad for radioactive cure-alls.

Source: Your Money and Your Life: An FDA Catalog of Fakes and Swindles in the Health Field — an FDA pamphlet published in 1963 that includes a variety of other quack medical devices.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 20, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, 1960s

Canned Sunshine

Edward W. Boersteler, of Watertown, MA, was the inventor of the ‘Curay Light Applicator,’ aka ‘Canned Sunshine.’ Back in the 1920s and 30s, he marketed it as a cure for the common cold. It emitted ultraviolet light, which people were supposed to shine down their throats, killing the germs.

In the selection of text below (taken from an article in the Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925), I didn't correct any of the misspellings. In particular, I wasn't sure whether the phrase "ultra violent light" was a mistake, or intentional.

“Previous cure has ben hampered by the inability to get directly at the germs in these darkened passages, but in the new invention the curative rays are played directly onto the germs, being transmitted through a smal rod of the marvelous substance known as fused quartz.

“Fused quartz transmits ultra violent or invisible light without loss, whereas ordinary window glass shuts out ultra violent light which is the curative agent in sunshine.

“In the Curay Light aplicator,” Boerrsteler continued, “we have produced a source of radient energy closely approximating concentrated sunlight in the upper altitude, with an equivalent ultra violent content. Though it is a potent germ killer, it is harmless to the cels of the body.

image source: Harvard University Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments



Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 03, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Inventions, 1920s

Helmet Heat

Everybody will know you have a cold if you don this gadget. That's just what it's for, says inventor Helmi Harie of Great Neck, Long Island, N.Y. Harie says the converted heating pad will bake your cold away. He displayed it at the first International Gadget Show in New York City.
-Wausau Daily Herald (Apr 20, 1957)

The heat might actually have helped to alleviate symptoms. So, in that sense, it wasn't a bad idea. But I doubt many people were willing to wear this for an extended period of time.

Dayton Daily News - June 16, 1957



Wausau Daily Herald - Apr 20, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 06, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, 1950s

Monitor grandma’s health via her butt

A new gadget, the VISSEIRO Smart Chair Pad, promises to allow people to remotely monitor the health of loved ones via a seat cushion. When someone (a grandmother, for example) sits on the cushion, it's able to record various vital signs through her buttocks. It can then send this info to an app on the phone of the granddaughter, offering reassurance that grandma is still alive and doing well.

My question is: if the vital signs flatline, how do you know if grandma is dead, or has simply stood up?

More info: visseiro.com



Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 20, 2019 - Comments (7)
Category: Health, Inventions

Healthiest US Pair



This is quite a distinction conferred by the 4-H congress of Chicago. I assume they examined every person in the USA before deciding.

Source.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Sep 07, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Health, 1930s

The Lice-Infested Underwear Experiment

During World War II, millions of men served their country by fighting in the military. Hundreds of thousands of others worked in hospitals or factories. And thirty-two men did their part by wearing lice-infested underwear.

Model of a body louse, National Museum of Health and Medicine.


Origin of the Experiment

World War II public health warning
Source: Nat. Museum of Health & Medicine

It began with the recognition of the serious public-health problem posed by body lice (Pediculus humanis corporis). Being infested by these tiny insects is not only unpleasant, but also potentially deadly, since they're carriers of typhus. During World War II, medical authorities feared that the spread of lice among civilian refugees could trigger a widespread typhus epidemic, leading to millions of deaths, as had happened in World War I.

In an attempt to prevent this, the Rockefeller Foundation, in collaboration with the federal government, funded the creation in 1942 of a Louse Lab whose purpose was to study the biology of the louse and to find an effective means of preventing infestation. The Lab, located in New York City, was headed by Dr. William A. Davis, a public health researcher, and Charles M. Wheeler, an entomologist.

The first task for the Louse Lab was to obtain a supply of lice. They achieved this by collecting lice off a patient in the alcoholic ward of Bellevue Hospital. Then they kept the lice alive by allowing them to feed on the arms of medical students (who had volunteered for the job). In this way, the lab soon had a colony of thousands of lice. They determined that the lice were free of disease since the med students didn't get sick.

Next they had to find human hosts willing to serve as subjects in experiments involving infestation in real-world conditions. For this they initially turned to homeless people living in the surrounding city, whom they paid $7 each in return for agreeing first to be infected by lice and next to test experimental anti-louse powders. Unfortunately, the homeless people proved to be uncooperative subjects who often didn't follow the instructions given to them. Frustrated, Davis and Wheeler began to search for other, more reliable subjects.

Conscientious Objectors
Eventually Davis and Wheeler hit upon conscientious objectors (COs) as potential guinea pigs. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 allowed young men with religious objections to fighting to serve their country in alternative, nonviolent ways. At first they were put to work domestically at jobs such as building roads, harvesting timber, and fighting forest fires. But in 1942, inspired by the example of the British government, it occurred to U.S. officials that these young men were also a potential pool of experimental subjects for research, and they began to be made available to scientists for this purpose.

The Vancouver Sun - Feb 3, 1943



In theory, the COs were always given a choice about whether or not to serve as guinea pigs. In practice, it wasn't that simple. Controversy lingers about how voluntary their choice really was since their options were rather limited: be a guinea pig for science, or do back-breaking manual labor. But for their part, the COs have reported that they were often eager to volunteer for experiments. Sensitive to accusations that they were cowardly and unpatriotic, serving as a test subject offered the young men a chance to do something that seemed more heroic than manual labor.

Eventually COs participated in a wide variety of experiments, but Davis and Wheeler were the very first researchers to use American COs as experimental subjects. And they planned to infest these volunteers with lice.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 04, 2019 - Comments (5)
Category: Health, Insects, Experiments, Underwear, 1940s

The Concrete Enema

It provided the title for Chuck’s classic 1996 collection of weird news (and if you don't have Chuck's book you really should do yourself a favor and get it. It deserves to be in every home library). However, we’ve never posted about the incident itself here on WU. So I thought I'd remedy that oversight.

In 1987, two doctors reported an unusual case in The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. It involved a 20-year-old man who had shown up at an emergency room complaining of rectal pain. Examination of his rectum revealed a “hard stony mass,” and eventually the patient disclosed how the mass had gotten there:

The patient said that approximately 4 h earlier he and his boyfriend had been “fooling around.” After stirring a batch of concrete mix, the patient laid on his back with his feet against the wall at a 45° angle while his boyfriend poured the mixture through a funnel into his rectum. After the concrete mass hardened, it became so painful that he sought medical care.


Remarkably, the doctors were able to remove the concrete mass without any damage to the patient's rectum. It had formed a perfect cast of the interior of the rectum, even showing “grooves produced by mucosal folds.”

Removal revealed another unusual detail: a ping-pong ball mixed in with the concrete. Apparently the patient didn’t explain what the ball was doing there. The doctors hypothesized that it had been "inserted after the enema as a plug to promote retention… Instead, peristaltic contractions forced the air-filled plastic ball deeper into the hardening concrete, accounting for its location in the upper end of the mass."



After resting overnight, the patient was able to leave the hospital the following morning, no worse for wear. One can only hope that he had learned a valuable life lesson: that it's really not a good idea to use concrete as an enema.

I wonder what became of the concrete enema. Was it thrown away in the trash? This seems most likely. Or perhaps it's sitting in a box in a medical archive. Or, and this is my favorite idea, perhaps one of the doctors saved it to use as a paperweight. Whatever the case may be, if it still survives it definitely would be a great exhibit to include in a museum of the weird.

More info: Peter J. Stephens and Mark L. Taff. (1987). “Rectal Impaction Following Enema with Concrete Mix.” The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 8(2): 179-182.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 28, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Health, Sex Toys, 1980s

Page 1 of 10 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›




weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •