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
Jefferson Medical College is still extant.
Not sure if their literature highlights this incident.
Source: The Boston Weekly Globe
(Boston, Massachusetts) 19 Dec 1882, Tue Page 5
Rendering a pregnant woman unconscious in the delivery room is pretty much frowned upon nowadays, except for emergencies
. But at one point, it was regarded as the newest sophistication of the birthing process.
Article from 1915 here.
Modern essay here.
Dr. Huang Xianjian's 'trampling treatment' for lumbago sufferers consisted of "climbing on top of the bed and jumping up and down on their backs."
It reminds me of the "impact therapy"
we posted about a while back which involved hitting patients with 20-pound sandbags.
Bangor Daily News - Oct 13, 1983
Back in 2012, the Army awarded a grant to Dr. Michael Kubek of the Indiana University School of Medicine to develop an "anti-suicide nasal spray". TheMarySue.com gives some details:
the spray would deliver an extra dose of thyrotropin-releasing hormone, (TRH for short) which causes a “euphoric, calming, antidepressant effect.” TRH has been used in the past to treat severe depression and bi-polar disorders. Between the quick-acting effect of the chemical and fairly direct delivery system, the drug might be able to literally stop people from killing themselves on the spot.
The Military Suicide Research Consortium
offers some more info, similarly emphasizing that a primary benefit of the nasal spray was that it would be quick-acting. So I'm assuming the idea was that if someone was thinking about suicide, they could squirt the spray up their nose and the thoughts would go away. Although this suggests a problem. If someone was serious about suicide, wouldn't they purposefully not use the nasal spray?
The Army grant was for three years. But I can't find any follow-up indicating whether the spray was successfully developed. Although I did find that Dr. Kubek died in 2019
An unusual list of what a country doctor in 1924 was willing to accept as payment. I wonder if my doctor would accept some goose feathers and soft-shell turtles as a co-pay?
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 13, 1924
Letter sent out by a doctor at Paige, Tex.:
I expect a prompt settlement of all accounts due me. If not possible to settle in cash, any of the following named articles will be acceptable, viz.:
Cotton seed, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, billygoats, live catfish over 1 lb. each, bulldogs, registered bird dogs, skunk hides (dry), deer hides, shotguns, cedar posts, watches, gold teeth, diamonds, cream checks, pine trees (2 ft. in diameter, 30 ft. long), automobiles, new or secondhand; peanuts, black-eyed peas, Liberty Bonds, land notes, bacon, lard, country hams, clean goose feathers, soft-shell turtles over 5 lbs. each. Anything that can be sold for cash legally.
I need the money.
I have no idea what "cream checks" are. Google doesn't provide an answer.
An Australian woman had been suffering from headaches for seven years. Doctors suspected a brain tumor. The good news was that, after operating, they found she was tumor free. The bad news was that she had a cyst full of tapeworm larvae in her brain.
More info from cnn.com
. Or read the full case report in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Back in 1985, doctors at an emergency room in Pittsburgh were presented with a woman who had somehow got cockroaches in both her ears. The doctors immediately decided this presented a rare opportunity to do a comparative study on methods of removing cockroaches from ears. They reported on their results in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Removing Cockroaches from the Auditory Canal: Controlled Trial," 1985, 312(18): 1197.
To the Editor: A recent case seen in an emergency department of a large urban hospital may have finally settled the tormenting and age-old question concerning the best method of removing Periplaneta americana, the common cockroach, from the ear canal. Numerous methods have been described in the medical literature, the most popular of which appears to be placement of mineral oil in the canal and subsequent manual removal of the creature. More recently, lidocaine spray has been suggested as a more effective approach to this problem.
A patient recently presented with a cockroach in both ears. The history was otherwise noncontributory. We recognized immediately that fate had granted us the opportunity for an elegant comparative therapeutic trial. Having visions of a medical breakthrough assuredly worthy of subsequent publication in the Journal, we placed the time-tested mineral oil in one ear canal. The cockroach succumbed after a valiant but futile struggle, but its removal required much dexterity on the part of the house officer. In the opposite ear we sprayed 2 per cent lidocaine solution. The response was immediate; the roach exited the canal at a convulsive rate of speed and attempted to escape across the floor. A fleet-footed intern promptly applied an equally time-tested remedy and killed the creature using the simple crush method.
However humble the method, and despite our small study population, we think we have provided further evidence justifying the use of lidocaine for the treatment of a problem that has bugged mankind throughout recorded history.
K. O'Toole, M.D.
P.M. Paris, M.D.
R.D. Stewart, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
R. Martinez, M.D.
Louisiana State University
A subsequent letter to the journal noted a limitation of their report. In many cases, cockroaches get stuck in the ear canal. In which case, they can't just scurry out when sprayed with lidocaine. However, the correspondents offered a method of dealing with this situation. ("Removing cockroaches from the auditory canal: a direct method" NEJM. 1989. 320(5): 322).
To the Editor: The excitement was unbearable. "There's a girl with a bug in her ear!" the nurse had exclaimed. "Looks like a cockroach to me!" It was all we could do to keep from running to the patient's bedside. "Grab the lidocaine!" we shouted. This was the moment we had been waiting for. We had seen the reports, but did it really work?
As we burst into the room, we could see the young woman writhing from the combined sensations of movement and pain in her ear canal. One of us tok a look, confirming the nurse's diagnosis, while the other filled a 3-cc syringe with 2 percent lidocaine solution. With hurried anticipation we sprayed the drug briskly into the ear canal and quickly jumped back, fully expecting the beast to come hurtling forth at first contact with the noxious substance.
Nothing. "Increase the dosage," we shouted, filling a 10-cc syring. Still nothing. "Get that sucker outa my ear!" the patient screamed. What a brilliant idea! We grabbed a 2-mm metal suction tip and attached it to a wall suction apparatus with a negative pressure of 120 cm of water. Then we gently passed the tip into the ear canal, taking care not to occlude the canal and risk tympanic-membrane barotrauma. Shloop! "Got him!" we exulted. Sure enough, there he was, plastered to the suction tip like a fly to flypaper. After a repeat examination of the canal and a few drops of Cortisporin solution, the patient was on her way.
We recommend suction as a safe and efficacious method for removing insects from the ear canal when other methods fail.
Jonathan Warren, M.D.
Leo C. Rotell, M.D.
State University of New York
Health Science Center