Dr. Somers’ Cocaine Cure for Arthritis

Back in the late 1970s, Dr. Lowell Somers, chief of staff at Redbud Community Hospital, made headlines by claiming to have discovered that cocaine could cure arthritis. Somers explained that he discovered this by observing his identical twin cousins, Chuck and Rick. Chuck had arthritis, but Rick didn't. And Rick was a cocaine user, while Chuck wasn't.

Somers said he had successfully treated a dozen rheumatoid patients with cocaine. His procedure:

Somers' patients take the powder by sniffing it through a straw or chewing it on a piece of cotton. They take about four doses of 100 milligrams each day, but the frequency is later reduced.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Apr 13, 1979

It didn't take long for authorities to shut him down, which they did by charging that he was addicted to demerol and cocaine, and revoking his medical license. I guess he was taking the cure himself. Some info from The Oklahoman:

The California licensing board told The Oklahoman... that Somers was placed on probation in 1980 for addiction to demerol and cocaine; that he later was paroled but was placed on probation again in 1984 for 10 years for violating terms of that probation. A complaint signed by the California agency chairman states that Somers was examined by psychiatrists and found to be suffering from a psychosis; that he treated patients with a mixture of cocaine and hydrochloride and that he "manifested a sincere belief in the value of his treatments with cocaine."

This sidestepped the issue of whether he may actually have been right about the medical benefit of cocaine for people with arthritis. It doesn't seem entirely implausible to me.

However, some googling pulls up an article suggesting that cocaine use may actually cause rheumatologic conditions. Although the authors admit they're not sure if the cocaine is the culprit, or the contaminants in the cocaine.

On the other hand, there's quite a bit of literature about the potential medical benefits of coca leaves, which people have been consuming in South America for thousands of years. Although coca leaves are a far cry from the pure cocaine Somers was using.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Apr 13, 1979

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 15, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Drugs, Health, Medicine, 1970s


Released in 1977, the album Pythagoron consisted of electronic sounds that supposedly stimulated certain brain waves, thereby allowing the listener to get high, without the use of drugs. The Hum blog offers more details:

While obscure, Pythagoron’s sole LP – a distillation of fine art, drug culture, high New Age thinking, and musical Minimalism, is a near perfect image of the outer reaches of its era. Privately issued in 1977 – sold via advertisements in High Times, the album’s origins are mysterious – thought to be a product of USCO (The Company Of Us), one of the earliest multimedia art collectives based in New York – pioneers in the field of immersive sound and light environments...

The album is intended to get the listener high – the aural mirror to Brion Gysin’s Dream Machines, and the step beyond La Monte Young. Capitalizing on the the tonal precision allowed by synthesizers – it attempts to harness the resonant interaction of sound and brainwave patterns to induce states of euphoria – the precursor of more recent efforts in binaural beats and neural oscillation.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 11, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Drugs, Psychedelic, Music, 1970s

Odyssey:  Into the Mind’s Eye

1990s production of psychedelic trip with soundtrack.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 19, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Drugs, Psychedelic, Music, Special Effects, 1990s

Dr. Munch’s Marijuana Madness

1938: Dr. James Clyde Munch described to his students at Temple University what happened when he smoked "a handful of reefers" as an experiment.

He crawled into a bottle of ink, stayed there 200 years, took a peep over the bottle's neck, ducked back and wrote a book about what he saw. When the book was done, he popped out of the inkwell, shook his wings, flew around the world seven times.

I'm thinking there may have been something more than just marijuana in those cigarettes.

Time - Apr 11, 1938

Munch liked his story about the disorienting effects of marijuana so much that he repeated it at several criminal trials.

New York Daily News - Apr 8, 1938

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 14, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Drugs, Smoking and Tobacco, Experiments, 1930s

Hidden Message in “I Am the Walrus”

Everyone knows that the Beatles song "I Am the Walrus" is all about the secret death of Paul McCartney.

But back in 1968, reporter Jed Drews heard something else there.

Source: Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) 24 Feb 1968, Sat Page 15

I can find literally not one other online endorsement of this interpretation of the lyrics--except when Mr. Drews's article was inserted into the Congressional Record upon his testimony in DC.


Posted By: Paul - Thu Mar 25, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Drugs, Government, Music, Newspapers, 1960s

Sniffing Painted Babies

1983: Reports of a bizarre new way of getting high surfaced in the small town of Grants, New Mexico.

addicts who can't afford more conventional narcotics are getting high by sniffing gilded infants painted gold or silver, police believe... [Police chief] Thurber said that during recent drug raids his men got word "on the street" of the practice of painting babies and passing the glistening infants around to be sniffed to get high.

Miami Herald - Feb 11, 1983

Six years later, the Weeky World News reported that this strange practice had spread to France. But since the WWN is the only source I can find about this later outbreak, I'd take it with a grain of salt.

Weekly World News - Mar 7, 1989

via Legends & Rumors

Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 24, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Drugs, 1980s

Aroma of Cocaine

In 1981, Warren Woodford of Atlanta, Georgia was granted a patent (No. 4,260,517) for a method of producing the "aroma of cocaine". From the patent:

The present invention relates to a method and product for providing the aroma of cocaine and so called "street cocaine" to the olfactory senses using readily available, non-controlled substances...

Olfactory conditioning by brain trigger stimulus has recently found application in law enforcement agencies. In some instances, narcotics officers are permitted to light a marijuana cigarette during their training in order to allow them to later react to the characteristic aroma of marijuana smoke. Similarly, officers may be exposed to the aroma of cocaine so as to familiarize them with its distinctive aromatic smell...

Due to the legally controlled nature of such substances as cocaine and marijuana, it is usually not possible to freely disseminate samples of such substances to everyone who might wish to become acquainted with the aromas of these substances. Drug familiarization programs have as a result been limited by the availability of the drugs themselves.

It is therefore desirable to find alternative sources for the aroma of certain controlled substances.

I'm surprised this was never turned into a perfume.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 30, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Drugs, 1980s, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Elephants on marijuana

As the author of Elephants on Acid, this news story naturally caught my eye:

The Warsaw zoo said Wednesday it will start giving its elephants medical marijuana as part of a ground-breaking pilot project to test how it reduces their stress levels. Medical cannabis has been used worldwide to treat dogs and horses but "this is probably the first initiative of its kind for elephants," Agnieszka Czujkowska, the veterinarian in charge of the project, told AFP. The zoo's three African elephants will be given liquid doses of a high concentration of the relaxing cannabinoid CBD through their trunks.

Elephants are notorious for being VERY resistant to the effect of drugs. That's why, in the 1962 'elephants on acid' experiment, the experimenters gave the elephant a massive dose of LSD — and injected it — to make sure it would have an effect. As it turned out, the LSD had a dramatic effect. The elephant dropped dead.

It seems that the Warsaw Zoo researchers are being far more cautious. They're initially only giving the elephants a dose of CBD equivalent to what a horse would receive. Plus, the elephants will be ingesting it, which allows the drug to enter their system more gradually (as opposed to an injection). So my guess is that the CBD will have very little effect on the elephants. Unless the dose is later dramatically increased.

More info: ibtimes

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 29, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Drugs

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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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