Human-Animal Breastfeeding

In his 1826 book A Treatise on the Physical and Medical Treatment of Children, the American physician William Potts Dewees offered this advice for pregnant women:

The Wikipedia article Human-animal breastfeeding offers some background info:

The breastfeeding by humans of animals is a practice that is widely attested historically and continues to be practised today by some cultures. The reasons for this are varied: to feed young animals, to drain a woman's breasts, to promote lactation, to harden the nipples before a baby is born, to prevent conception, and so on.

English and German physicians between the 16th and 18th centuries recommended using puppies to "draw" the mother's breasts, and in 1799 the German Friedrich Benjamin Osiander reported that in Göttingen women suckled young dogs to dislodge nodules from their breasts. An example of the practice being used for health reasons comes from late 18th century England. When the writer Mary Wollstonecraft was dying of puerperal fever following the birth of her second daughter, the doctor ordered that puppies be applied to her breasts to draw off the milk, possibly with the intention of helping her womb to contract to expel the infected placenta that was slowly poisoning her.

Animals have widely been used to toughen the nipples and maintain the mother's milk supply. In Persia and Turkey puppies were used for this purpose. The same method was practised in the United States in the early 19th century; William Potts Dewees recommended in 1825 that from the eighth month of pregnancy, expectant mothers should regularly use a puppy to harden the nipples, improve breast secretion and prevent inflammation of the breasts. The practice seems to have fallen out of favour by 1847, as Dewees suggested using a nurse or some other skilled person to carry out this task rather than an animal.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jan 18, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Medicine, Nineteenth Century, Pregnancy

Using Coca-Cola to dissolve phytobezoars

Coca-Cola isn’t just for drinking. It also has a medical use: to dissolve gastric phytobezoars (masses of indigestible material in the gastrointestinal system). Doctors administer the Coca-Cola via a tube threaded through the nose down into the intestines. As noted in a 2015 article in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, "An administration of Coca-Cola® is believed to be the primary choice for phytobezoar treatment because it is safe, inexpensive, and effective."

The same article further explains:

Although the mechanism has not been fully elucidated, it has been speculated that some ingredients in Coca-Cola® play a key role in bezoar dissolution. Such hypotheses include enhanced bezoar digestion by the mucolytic effect of sodium bicarbonate and/or by the acidifying effect of carbonic acid and phosphoric acid. Destruction of the bezoar may also be assisted by the carbon dioxide bubbles, which penetrate into the bezoar through the microscopic pores on its surface. Diet Coke®, Coca-Cola Light®, and Coca-Cola Zero® all contain these ingredients. Since the clinical success of bezoar dissolution by Diet Coke®, Coca-Cola Light®, and Coca-Cola Zero® was documented in previous reports, several authors have speculated that these sugar-free beverages have the same effect of bezoar dissolution as the regular version of Coca-Cola®.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 26, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Medicine, Soda, Pop, Soft Drinks and other Non-Alcoholic Beverages

The Death Test

It's officially known by the acronym CrisTAL (Criteria for Screening and Triaging to Appropriate Alternative Care), but it's more widely known as the Death Test. It's a 29-point checklist to help doctors determine if elderly patients are at risk of dying within the next three months. So, it seems like a more rigorous version of the "Surprise Question" which (as we've posted about before) is another test docs use to predict imminent death.

More info:

The Death Test:
For patients with an age of 65 or over who have been admitted to hospital this time in an emergency:
1. Altered level of consciousness (Glasgow Coma Score change >2 or AVPU=P or U)
2. Blood pressure (a systolic blood pressure of less than 90 mm Hg)
3. Respiratory rate of more then five and less than 30
4. Pulse rate of less than 40 or more than 140
5. Need for oxygen therapy, or known oxygen saturation of less than 90 per cent
6. Hypolglaecemia blood glucose level (less sugar in the blood than normal)
7. Repeat or prolonged seizures
8. Low output of urine (less than 15 mL/h or less than 0.5 mL/kg/h) or a MEW or SEWS score of more than 4
9. Previous history of disease, including:
10. Advanced cancer
11. Kidney disease
12. Heart failure
13. Various types of lung diseases
14. Strokes and vascular dementia
15. Heart attack
16. Moderate to severe liver disease
17. Mental impairment such as dementia or disability from a stroke
18. Length of stay before this RRT call (>5 days predicts 1-year mortality)
19. Repeat hospitalisations in the past year
20. Repeat admission to the intensive care department of the hospital
21. Frailty
22. Unexplained weight loss
23. Self-reported exhaustion
24. Weakness (being unable to grip objects, being unable to handle objects or lift heavy objects of less than or equal to 4.5kg,
25. Slow walking speed (walks 4.5m in more than 7 seconds) or is
26. Inability to do physical exercise or stand
27. Is a nursing home resident or lives in supported accommodation
28. Having urine in their blood (more than 30mg albumin/g creatinine
29. Abnormal ECG (irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat and any other abnormal rhythm or more than or equal to 5 ectopics/min and changes to Q or ST waves)

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 13, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Medicine

The Yips Phenomenon in Golf

The Yips are defined as "a disorder in which golfers complain of an involuntary movement — a twitch, a jerk, a flinch — at the time they putt or even when they chip. This interferes with their ability to perform that activity.” It was the subject of a multidisciplinary study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, who concluded:

For <10 handicap male golfers and <12 handicap female golfers, the prevalence of the yips is between 32.5% and 47.7%, a high proportion of serious golfers. This high prevalence suggests that medical practitioners need to understand the aetiology of the yips phenomenon so that interventions can be identified and tested for effectiveness in alleviating symptoms. Although previous investigators concluded that the yips is a neuromuscular impediment aggravated but not caused by anxiety, we believe the yips represents a continuum on which 'choking' (anxiety-related) and dystonia symptoms anchor the extremes.

The Yips should not be confused with the Yip Yips, which are something completely different:

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 15, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Medicine, Sports

Home for Incurables

As late as 1952, "homes for incurables" were a going concern. Contemporary medicine seems to have abandoned the term "incurable" in favor of others that are perhaps less of a downer.



Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 03, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Architecture, Charities and Philanthropy, History, Medicine, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century

Chilling big toe cures runny nose

As reported by Israeli scientists Dr. Menahem Ram and Aladar Schwartz at a 1971 joint meeting of the Society for Cryobiology and the International Conference of Refrigeration:

Sudden temporary chilling of the big toes almost immediately brings about a lowering of the normal body temperature within the nose because, they said, the big toes and the nose are nervous system "reflectors" of one another in their response to external stress. And this nasal temperature-lowering—along with humidity-lowering—"dries up the nostrils," thereby "curing" the cold, they said.

Newport News Daily Press - Sep 3, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 16, 2018 - Comments (6)
Category: Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains, Medicine, Science, 1970s, Feet

New mask for seasickness

Dr. Richmond Goulden of the liner Lady Nelson models the latest in seasickness-prevention technology, 1939.

The pipe adds a nice touch.

Baltimore Evening Sun - Jan 4, 1939

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 06, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Medicine, 1930s

Impact Therapy

Shamokin News Dispatch - Aug 31, 1968

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 13, 2018 - Comments (5)
Category: Health, Medicine, 1960s

Sneeze Girl

From Time magazine, Dec 14, 1936:

Because she had been sneezing every few minutes since Oct. 9, Mary Margaret Cleer, 13, daughter of a Fort Myer, Va. gasoline station attendant, last week held the attention of a great many curious laymen and puzzled doctors. No one knew what caused the prolonged sneezing fit which had racked the child to skin & bones and put a constant, haggard sneer on her face.

To see if allergy to some substance caused the sneezing, Washington doctors scratched her skin some 80 times, rubbed into the scratches hay pollen, flower pollen, pulverized cat fur, dog hair, house dust, food extracts, dozens of substances.

Skin tests failed to reveal any specific allergy. A Washington doctor cut out the adolescent's tonsils, with no effect on the sneezing. Other specialists could find nothing unusual in her lungs or nervous system.

Lay cures for sneezing which Mary Cleer was urged to try included wearing a "magnetic" letter pinned to her night dress, looking down the bridge of her nose at pieces of bright silk held close to the tip, clipping an electrified wire to her nose and toes, getting tattooed, taking snuff.

Last week when Mary Cleer went to Johns Hopkins Hospital, the great medical faculty there had never before treated or even seen a girl who sneezed so persistently. Johns Hopkins specialists began a new series of tests. A psychiatrist examined the girl and summoned her parents to analyze their mental and emotional makeups. Mary underwent fluoroscopy, blood testing, other examinations. A gynecologist also took her in charge, for the nasal and genital tissues are histologically related. The mucous membranes of the nose swell during sexual excitement. This well-known phenomenon gives rise to a theory that the noses of many little girls become sensitive as they turn into young womanhood, and that this makes such girls sniff, lisp or pamper their noses in an apparently affected manner, and that this overture to womanhood causes an occasional girl to sneeze uncontrollably. That, a gynecologist might guess, was the trouble with Mary Cleer, 13.

Apparently the sneezing eventually stopped of its own accord. No one ever figured out what the cause was.

Decatur Daily Review - Dec 3, 1936

(left) Alexandria Town Talk - Oct 27, 1936
(right) Daily Clintonian - Dec 8, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 17, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Medicine, 1930s

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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.

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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.

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