Ads for these pills ran in many papers in the late 19th century. What was it in the pills that provided the ambition? If these pills were the same as 'Wendell's Ambition Pills,' which came on the market slightly later, then it was strychnine:
"Louisiana chemists reported that each pill was found to contain a little over one-thirtieth of a grain of strychnin and about one-fifth of a grain of iron in the form of the sesquioxid (ferric oxid). Pepper, cinnamon and ginger were also found and what was probably aloes in very small amounts. These pills are sold at 50 cents a box, each box containing forty-two pills. Under our present lax methods of permitting almost any dangerous drug to be sold indiscriminately, provided it is in the form of a 'patent medicine,' it seems, from the Louisiana findings, that it is possible for any one to purchase enough strychnin in a single box of Wendell's Ambition Pills to kill an adult." The Journal A.M.A., Apr 6, 1918.
Jorge Odon was an Argentinian car mechanic who, one day, watched a video on YouTube that showed a trick for removing a cork that's stuck inside a wine bottle. Even though he had no medical training at all, the video inspired him to create a device to help deliver babies who are stuck inside the birth canal. And apparently the device (he's called it the Odon Device) actually works — enough so that an American medical technology firm has agreed to manufacture it. [Yahoo!]
I can't seem to remember the last brilliant idea I had while watching YouTube videos.
For well over 200 years in early modern Europe, the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate all participated in cannibalism on a more or less routine basis. Drugs were made from Egyptian mummies and from the dried bodies of those drowned in North African desert sandstorms. Later in the era the corpses of hanged criminals offered a new and less exotic source of human flesh. Human blood was also swallowed: sometimes fresh and hot, direct from a donor's body, sometimes dried, powdered, or distilled with alchemical precision. Human fat was one of the most enduring substances of all: it was usually applied externally in the form of ointments or plasters. Certain parts of the bone of the skull were swallowed as powder or in liquid distillations. In London chemists' shops one could see entire human skulls for sale. Some had a growth of botanical moss, which could be powdered and used to treat nosebleeds and other forms of haemorrhaging. Both skull bone and the moss of the skull should — most authorities agreed — be derived from a man who had met a violent death, preferably by hanging or drowning.
These were the most common drugs derived from the human body. But, as we will see, for certain practitioners and patients, there was almost nothing between the head and the feet which could not be used in some way: hair, brain, heart, skin, liver, urine, menstrual blood, placenta, earwax, saliva and faeces. Medicinal cannibalism was practised to some extent in the Middle Ages. But, with nice irony, it became most popular and pervasive in the era when reports of New World cannibals were circulating amidst the outraged Christians of Rome, Madrid, London and Wittenberg.
In the early 20th century, children were regularly fed 'worm cakes' to keep tapeworms at bay. Such 'medicine' was unpopular and often tasted revolting. The cakes in this tin have been made more palatable through the addition of chocolate flavouring.
I wish they provided more information, since I'm not sure whether these cakes actually consisted of ground-up worms or whether they were some kind of anti-worm medication, such as pomegranate extract (which has been known for centuries to be effective against tapeworms).
Acupuncturist Dr. Jeff Tsing says he's "baffled" at how he could have closed up his business for the day and gone home, failing to remember that a patient was still lying on his table, needles in. wfaa.com
The "remote nondescript village" of Uttarakshi in India is taking a leap into the modern age. The villagers are helping to finance the construction of "an ultra modern hi tech distillation plant of 8000 litres capacity." What they'll be distilling is cow urine.
distilled purified cow urine is being sold in the market at Rs.40 per 100 milli litre with the brand name of Divya Godhan Ark prescribed for indications like general debility, obesity, abdominal diseases, skin diseases, diabetes, cough and asthma. It is recommended in doses of 10 to 20 ml based on the indication and as prescribed by the physician.
If all goes well, the Uttarakshi plant can be expanded to up production to 10,000 litres of the liquid gold daily.
A little bit of old-time medicine. Reported in "A Collection of Saliva Superstitions" by R. Selare, Folklore (Dec 1939), 50(4).
Special properties were attributed to fasting saliva. Pliny refers to the curative properties of the local application of such saliva. "A woman's fasting spittle is generally considered highly efficacious for bloodshot eyes; it is also good for defluxions of those organs, the inflamed corners of the eyes being moistened with it every now and then." In Madagascar the first spittle in the morning is called rora mafaitra, bitter or disagreeable saliva, and has medicinal virtue in healing a sore eye or ear. Among the Irish peasants fasting spittle is considered of great efficacy for sore eyes, especially if used mixed with clay taken from a holy well. This is made into a paste and applied to the eyes, and it is said that "nothing beats the fasting spittle for blindness."
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.