One of the world records that Guinness no longer tracks is that for "most pills swallowed." But from the late 1970s to the 1990s it consistently awarded this to one C.H.A. Kilner of Malawi (or perhaps Zimbabwe — accounts differ), who apparently took A LOT of pills following a pancreatectomy (removal of his pancreas) on June 9, 1967.
The exact number of pills taken by Kilner progressively increased over time. The 1978 edition of Guinness put it at 280,131 pills. A year later it had reached 311,136. By 1981 it was 359,061. And Kilner finally stopped taking pills on June 19, 1988, having reached a total of 565,939 pills.
Later reports did the math and figured out that this worked out to 73 pills a day, and that "if all the pills he had taken were laid out end to end they would form an unbroken line two miles 186 yards long."
Where exactly was Guinness getting this information from? I have no idea, because they seem to be the only source for it. I can't find any record of this Kilner guy in medical journals.
Guinness Book of Records - 1978 Edition
Detroit Free Press - Dec 4, 1978
Logansport Pharos Tribune - Feb 7, 1982
Guinness Book of Records - 1995 Edition
In an old American medical journal, The Philadelphia Medical Museum
(1811 - Vol 1, No.4), Dr. Richard Hazeltine of Berwick, Maine shared a traditional yankee recipe for "buttered flip" cough medicine:
Often in the imbecile age of childhood, after I had gone to bed have I sip'd, and with no great reluctance, the steeming, salutiferous "buttered flip;" administered by the careful hand of an affectionate mother, to several, perhaps, of her tender offspring, who were affected with various catarrhal complaints, brought on by wet feet, and exposure to sudden vicissitudes of the weather.
The "buttered flip" was composed of recent urine, obtained from some one of the children, hot water, honey, and a little butter: and it generally removed the complaints for which it was given. Exhibited in this manner, it never puked; but it promoted expectoration and sweat.
image source: gracious rain
In a medical reference book from the 1940s, The New People's Physician
(1941), I came across these pictures of kids in classrooms and playing sports dressed only in their tighty-whities. They weren't students at a clothing-optional school. They were actually being treated for tuberculosis. In the days before antibiotics, sunlight therapy (or heliotherapy) was a popular cure for that disease.
"At Leysin, in the Alpes Vaudoises, Dr. A. Rollier instituted the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis and other tuberculous diseases by means of direct sunlight. The patients spend as much time as possible in the open air, exposed to the rays of the sun."
"Early cases of tuberculosis in young and vigorous people benefit considerably from treatment at high altitudes. Exercise and sport of a not too strenuous nature is advocated."
"At Perrysburg, N.Y., tubercular children study in an open-air schoolroom, stripped to the waist."
"Minimum clothing and maximum exposure to the sun contribute to improving the health of these tuberculous children at Perrysburg, New York. Outdoor classes and fresh air improve general health as well."
"Outdoor air and sunlight, even in the New England winter, are part of the treatment for child tuberculosis patients of the Meriden State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Meriden, Conn."
An LA Times article
(May 28, 2007) gives some background on the popularity of sunlight therapy for TB:
sunlight therapy, or heliotherapy as it was sometimes called (helios is the Greek word for sun), didn't become popular until a Swiss doctor, Auguste Rollier, began championing it in the early 1900s...
Rollier devised a detailed protocol for how, exactly, to sunbathe for health. He was convinced that early-morning sun was best and that sun exposure was most beneficial when the air was cool. When patients, most of whom had tuberculosis, arrived at his solaria, they first had to adjust to the altitude (his clinics were in the mountains) and then to the cool air. Once acclimated, Rollier slowly exposed them to the sun.
The patients were rolled onto sun-drenched, open-air balconies, wearing loincloths and covered from head to toe with white sheets. On the first day of treatment, just their feet peeked out from under the sheets, and only for five minutes. On day two, the sheets were pulled a little higher, and the patients were left in the sun a few minutes more. By day five, only the patients' heads were covered, their bodies left to soak up sun for more than an hour. After a few weeks, the patients were very tan -- and hopefully very healthy. (The therapy worked for many, but not all.)
And according to a fairly recent article in the Journal of Cell Biology
, "Curing TB with Sunlight"
(Mar 27, 2006), sunlight actually is a fairly effective treatment for tuberculosis:
Ultraviolet (UV) light makes vitamin D, and vitamin D turns on innate immunity to tuberculosis (TB), say Steffen Stenger (Universität Erlangen, Germany), Philip Liu, Robert Modlin (University of California, Los Angeles, CA), and colleagues...
The finding may explain why Hermann Brehmer's 19th century trip to the Himalayas cured him of his TB, and why the fresh air at his sanatoria helped cure others. “Our forefathers knew a lot more about this than we give them credit for,” says Modlin. Eventually, however, sanitoria coddled their patients behind glass, which would have blocked the beneficial UV light.
The following passage comes from "An Unusual Foreign Body in the Rectum — A Baseball: Report of a Case"
(Diseases of the Colon & Rectum
, January 1977):
A 49-year-old man complained of his inability to void when he came to the Letterman Army Medical Center Emergency Room. Physical examination revealed that he had a distended bladder and a firm, fixed, round object barely palpable which was lodged high in the rectum.
A Foley catheter was passed into the bladder and 800 ml of urine were removed. The patient then reluctantly described his recent activity. He and his sexual partner had celebrated a World Series victory of the Oakland Athletics by placing a baseball (hardball) in his rectum because, as he put it, "I'm oversexed."
The presence of the baseball was confirmed by radiography and proctologic examination. Under spinal anesthesia, the rectum was dilated and manipulations, including hooking the ball and pulling downward (enough to rip the cover of the ball), injecting air above the ball and giving downward traction, and obstetrical forceps delivery, failed.
Through a midline abdominal incision, a low anterior colotomy was made directly on the baseball. The baseball, increasingly swollen by fluid, had lodged in the hollow of the sacrum above the levator muscles and below the true pelvic inlet. The baseball was skewered with a corkscrew instrument. An assistant exerted digital upward pressure through the rectum and, combined with a force enough to raise the patient off the table, the bali was delivered through the colotomy.
No gross fecal spillage occurred. The eolotomy was closed and the patient had an uneventful postoperative course. Gentamicin and clindamycin were given intravenously interoperatively and for five days postoperatively. Follow-up examination a year later revealed normal bladder and rectal functions.
The same article offers some other interesting bits of info later on:
Various techniques for removing objects from the rectum through the anus and avoiding laparotomy have been described [in the medical literature]... a bottle was removed with a loop from a wire coat hanger; a light bulb was removed by using two spoons as forceps; a turnip was extracted with obstetrical forceps; a drinking glass was grasped with rubber-shod forceps and then withdrawn; another drinking glass was filled with plaster into which a pair of forceps was implanted, and then the forceps were used as a handle to pull the glass out through the anus.
The 1999 film Ravenous
(starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle) is about cannibalism. It's loosely inspired by the stories of the Donner Party and Alferd Packer. But it also includes the idea that eating human flesh can cure any wound or disease.
I was reminded of that film when I came across this real-life case, from 1932, of someone trying the human-flesh cure, apparently successfully. But I wonder why the husband fed his wife only a third of his thigh steak? What did he do with the rest? Does eating too much human flesh turn someone into a vampire?
The Des Moines Register - Dec 25, 1932
In Fukuoka prefecture, Japan, banking on the superstition that to eat of human flesh cures all ills, a Korean whose wife had neuralgia cut a half-pound slice of flesh off his thigh, cut the slice in three parts, cooked one part, fed it to his wife, telling her it was rabbit. His wife improved; he went to the government hospital with an infected thigh.
The idea that we'd all be healthier if we lived and ate like the cave man did has been around a long time. It long predates the current "paleo diet" trend.
For instance, back in 1916, the makers of Nujol wanted everyone to believe that if you pooped a lot, like the cave man did, you'd be a model of health. Nujol was basically raw petroleum, which is why it was sold by the Standard Oil company. It's name meant "New Oil." Read more of Nujol's history here
Source: Oregon Daily Journal - Sep 21, 1916
"Groovy people should wear groovy clothes," said San Francisco dentist Rodney Pain in 1971. "That way we turn on the whole world."
Pain embodied this ideal by doing away with the white tunic typically worn by dentists and always wearing groovy clothes instead.
Dr. Pain sounded familiar, and then I realized that I've posted about him before
. He's the same guy who made the news in 1966 because he played bagpipes for his patients while waiting for their fillings to set.
Well, I assume it's the same guy. How many dentists named Rodney Pain could there be in San Francisco?
Note that in the 1966 photo, he isn't yet wearing groovy clothes.
Colorado Springs Gazette - Mar 5, 1971
Dr. Rodney Pain in 1966, playing bagpipes