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Curious Medicine

Curious Medicine

By Christi
This is a show for all of you who are curious about historical, and often quirky, medical practices. Each episode examines a central topic about the peculiar approaches to healing across centuries since ancient times.

Join Christi and recurring co-hosts for discussions of the offbeat, created for laypersons and medical professionals alike.

New episodes are released each week on Sundays!


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Season 1 is finished!
We are taking the summer off but will return in the Fall with all new episodes. We hope you’ll join us then. Have a safe and happy summer!
00:13
May 16, 2021
Pregnancy Tests
THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN! In this episode Christi and Mindy talk urine (mostly) pregnancy tests! Topics discussed include: how modern-day urine pregnancy tests work; earliest known urine pregnancy tests dating back to 1350 BC; evolution of early home pregnancy tests; advertising; determining sex; and how Hippocrates suggested the use of an onion to determine pregnancy.
56:43
May 9, 2021
Bedside Manner
This episode discusses doctor – patient communication since ancient times. Common historical practices (even into the 20thcentury) may astound you! Topics discussed include: physicians’ dress and decorum; Hippocrates, the exemplar for physician behavior; Hippocratic Oath and Hippocratic Corpus; Galen’s views on doctor – patient relations; creation of American Medical Association Code of Ethics in 1847; lying to patients vs withholding the truth from patients regarding diagnoses and prognosis; and current recommendations for effective doctor – patient communication.
01:19:03
May 2, 2021
Hysteria
THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN! Christi is joined by Mindy on this episode and the two enjoy a frank discussion about hysteria in the Victorian era, a fake condition for which 75% of women sought treatment. Listen in to find out exactly why! Topics discussed include: causes; wandering womb theory; the exhaustive list of symptoms; treatments which included leeches (yes, leeches), aromatherapy, marriage (yes, marriage), sexual intercourse, abstinence, hydrotherapy, and pelvic massage; things that made us go hmmmmm! Learn why this fake disease was the catalyst for the invention of vibrators.
01:17:34
April 25, 2021
Spermatorrhea
THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. Listen as Christi and Brian discuss spermatorrhea. What it was in the Victoria era, what it is now and the reason there’s a difference! Brian takes us on a historical journey of self-love (or self-abuse, you decide) and how semen has been regarded across time. Topics discussed include: How the church (and medicine) turned its back on masturbation, “the great enemy of the church”; how love letters, featherbeds, soft trousers and foreskin (yes, foreskin) contributed to this widespread condition; and unfathomable treatments. Men, this episode will have you squirming in your seats and leave you feeling lucky that you’re living in the 21st century!
01:05:00
April 18, 2021
Lithotomy
THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. On this episode, Christi and Brian talk about lithotomy, a procedure for the removal of bladder stones. Topics discussed include: lithotomy position; how a lack of clean water and personal hygiene contributed to the formation of bladder stones; transurethral injections; various surgical methods for stone removal; various non-surgical methods to treat bladder stones; traveling lithotomists; and various instrumentation designed throughout the years for safer extraction of bladder stones. Also told are a few stories of individuals so desperate for relief, they removed their own bladder stones!
01:23:37
April 11, 2021
Cataracts
Eye problems are no joke! Join Christi and Brian as they take a look back in time at the evolution of cataract treatment. Topics discussed include: description of cataracts; oculists; graphic description of couching; graphic description of Sushruta’s cataract extraction technique; and ancient post-procedure care and discharge instructions after cataract treatment. Listen now to learn how WWII pilots helped shape modern day lens replacement!
01:14:07
April 4, 2021
Hemorrhoids
THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. This episode is about hemorrhoids, one of the most written about medical conditions in history. Topics discussed include: causes; symptoms; complications; socio-culture effects; descriptive treatments; and the Squatty Potty.
01:21:41
March 28, 2021
Nose Jobs
Warning, a portion of this episode deals with sexual assault in ancient times. THIS EPISODE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. Rhinoplasty dates as far back as 600 BC. While surgical techniques are discussed in this episode, much of this one details the many fascinating and unexpected reasons a person might need rhinoplasty across time.
01:18:11
March 21, 2021
Trepanation
Take a listen as Christi and Brian discuss trepanation, the oldest surgical procedure known to man which dates back to 10,000 BC! Topics discussed include: indications such as headaches, trauma, infections, epilepsy and creating a portal for spirits; incomplete trepanations; ancient apprenticeships; techniques and necessary tools of the trade. Hosts also discuss the modern-day act of self-trepanning.
01:21:58
March 14, 2021
Patent Medicines
This episode is about patent medicines and the heyday of these non-prescription drug sales in the 18th and 19th centuries. Topics discussed include: correlation between sickness and spirituality; how Americans ruined snake oil; the unbelievable addictive ingredients contained within; nostrum sellers; the awkward yet effective ways of advertising; how women, the lack of trust in doctors and urban living contributed to increasing popularity of these drugs; and the evolution of drug laws. Christi and Brian also talk about their favorite examples of patent medicines.
51:43
March 7, 2021
Physicians' Fees
In this episode, Christi and Brian discuss physician compensation across time. Topics discussed include: Code of Hammurabi; how a person’s social standing determined a physician’s fees; sliding fee scales; penalties for bad outcomes; the early days of referrals and consultations; physician price fixing in the 19th century; financial disclosures of doctors from the 19th century; and the steady decline of physicians’ wealth.
52:14
February 28, 2021
House Calls
Before hospitals were prevalent (and even after they were), doctors typically attended to patients in their homes. Topics discussed include: enhanced doctor – patient relationships; hardships and limitations on doctors making house calls; benefits to patients; typical contents in a doctor’s bag; and the economics of house calls.
57:02
February 21, 2021
Mercury
Mercury. Not the planet. Not the car. This episode is about the element! Topics discussed include: use of mercury in medicine; effects of exposure to mercury; Mad Hatter’s disease; monkey blood; and syphilis.
01:02:47
February 14, 2021
Barber Surgeons
Join Christi and Brian as they sit down for a chat about the evolution of barbers and barber shops across history since ancient times. Topics discussed include: how barbers turned into barber surgeons; how and why grooming services and medical services united; how barber surgeons rose to become the most common European medical practitioner of the Middle Ages; and how the creation of hospitals affected the demand for barber surgeons. They also describe some of the procedures commonly performed and the symbolism of barber poles.
01:10:49
February 7, 2021