Unusual Medical Treatments: Part I

Have you ever wondered about the validity of a treatment when a doctor orders a test or medication for your recovery from an illness?  Today we trust our doctors and modern medical science to prescribe the correct treatment, but health care in the past was often based upon superstition, or whatever was at hand that seemed to make sense.

During Roman occupation of what is today France, there was a tradition among the Gauls to use urine to whiten teeth.  In China, the urine of young boys has been regarded as a curative.  Later in history, the French regularly soaked stockings in urine and wrapped them around their necks to cure strep throat.

Scientifically speaking, here is no evidence of a therapeutic benefit of urine.  The bodily fluid does contain Vitamin C and other beneficial substances, but most of what makes up urine has been excreted by the body because it is harmful or present in excess.  Re-ingesting these substances will just result in re-excretion.  The most direct physiological effect of drinking urine, is diarrhea due to the laxative action of hypertonic solution of urea.

Heroin as cough medicine
First developed by Bayer Pharmaceutical in Germany around 1900, heroin was marketed by Bayer, and other companies for various medicinal uses including cough suppression.  Glyco-Heroin manufactured by Martin H. Smith Company, New York, was widely used not only as an analgesic but also as a remedy for asthma, coughs, and pneumonia.  Combining heroin with glycerin and often adding sugar or spices made the bitter-tasting opiate more palatable for oral consumption.

Ironically, heroin was also sold as a treatment for morphine addiction, but shortly afterwards the Smith Company faced an embarrassment when it was found that heroin is actually metabolized into morphine in the human body, therefore making the product a faster-acting form of morphine.

Today, under the chemical name diamorphine, heroin is available for prescription to long-term users in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark.

Nineteenth-century doctors often prescribed cigarettes and pipes packed with tobacco as a cure to patients with asthma.  According to the strange logic of old-time medicine, patients could breathe easier if they got enough healing smoke in their lungs.

In the 21st century, evidence suggests that the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease might be 50% lower in smokers, compared to non-smokers.  Nicotine has also been found to improve ADHD symptoms and appears to have effects in the brain that are similar to those of stimulants.

These findings have not led physicians to encourage anyone to smoke, but some studies are focusing on benefits of nicotine therapy in adults with ADHD.  Risk of ulcerative colitis has been frequently shown to be reduced by smoking on a dose-dependent basis.  Curiously, the effect is eliminated if the individual stops smoking.

21st-Century Medical Equipment from Ganim Medical

This week we are featuring some great deals on pre-owned otoscopes/ophthalmoscopes.

Welch-Allyn 74710 with heads (pre-owned) $400
Handle-based rheostats for quick light-intensity adjustments; comfortable, contoured handles, easy to hold and maneuver; high-impact ABS housing that is durable and easy to clean;OptiSense Sensor automatically turns handles on when they are removed from the cradles and off when they are replaced; Halogen HPX lamp that provides 30% more light output; 74710 transformer.  Read more.

Welch-Allyn 76710 with heads (pre-owned) $650
The instrument you will need to perform a complete diagnostic examination; handle-based rheostats for quick light-intensity adjustments; comfortable, contoured handles easy to hold and maneuver; durable, easy-to-clean, high-impact ABS housing; OptiSense Sensor automatically turns handles on when they are removed from the cradles and off when they are replaced; choose one of four halogen ophthalmoscopes, including the innovative PanOptic.


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