Microbiological, virological, bacteriological, immunological, medical, epidemiological, historical, anecdotal

Tag: bad ideas

No, don’t do that either.

I don’t want to spend all my time poking fun with the benefit of hindsight, but here’s another thing that looks truly ridiculous. A lot of thought has gone into it, as well as careful planning of the procedure… but really.

From the New England Medical Monthly, volume 24 (1905), pages 220-223:


Yes, he suggests that yeast can be … not necessarily the cause of this embarrassing condition … but the cure!

What comes to mind here are the words of Andy Zaltzman in episode 76 of The Bugle podcast, upon hearing about Dr. Henry Heimlich’s plan to cure people of AIDS by infecting them with malaria.

“Now, I’m not a scientist, John, but that sounds like quite a bad idea. Without wanting to use the term ‘obvious crackpot,’ there is something about fighting a major disease by giving yourself another major disease that just doesn’t feel quite right. Treating AIDS with malaria, John, to me, is along the lines of dealing with losing your favorite socks by chainsawing your feet off.”

That isn’t quite fair; it makes sense that one infectious organism could be used to fight off another. In the case of malaria, by inducing a fever that may enhance the immune response against viruses that don’t normally induce fevers.

But this is just not going to work, any more than Saccharomyces could cure typhoid back in 1891. Neisseria gonorrhoeae is not just a superficial growth on the surface of the mucous membranes — it grows inside cells. And this treatment is supposedly happening in patients with “chronic” gonorrhea, which has already spread to the cervix and quite possibly other organs outside the reproductive system? That makes it an even worse idea.

Just as the phrase “fight fire with fire” does not apply to actual fires, we should not try to fight vaginitis with more vaginitis.

Dew-Fer-Ol: A don’t for all


Five pieces of advice to the New York-area physicians of 1914:

1. Don’t prescribe a medicine made by a South Jersey winery.

2. Don’t prescribe a medicine that was created on the principle of “Two great tastes that taste great together”.

3. Don’t prescribe a medicine whose ads give no clue of what condition it should be prescribed for. (Anemia, presumably. Though that doesn’t explain the olive oil.)

4. Don’t prescribe tincture of iron citro-chloride. Particularly in acidic mixtures, it will break down to ferric chloride, which is poisonous. (Source: Merck Report (October 1915), Volume 24, page 244)

5. You probably have some patients who want to drink wine but have been pressured by the temperance movement to think it’s wrong unless a doctor prescribes it. Just prescribe wine, instead of some weird substance. 25 ounces of port wine would probably be cheaper than a bottle of Dew-Fer-Ol.

* * *

Source: Long Island Medical Journal Advertiser (1914), Volume 8, page xxix, which is at the very end of the PDF available here.

What exactly is “Tinct. Citro Chlor. Iron”? I think this is it (excerpt from the American Pharmaceutical Association’s National Formulary, Fourth Edition (1916), page 225).