Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
by Robert and Michèle Root-Bernstein, 279 pp, $24, Boston, Mass, Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
The history of medicine includes many ludicrous therapies. Mineral baths, which now seem therapeutically futile, were once popular enough to leave us with the remains of luxurious "health spas" in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States. Bloodletting, practiced well into the 19th century, now seems injurious and barbarous. Here is a book that reviews these and an assortment of other once popular therapies and offers an insightful and entertaining commentary on how they may have sometimes been useful to patients. Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels also makes clear that in some cases, such as honey or sugar pastes to treat pressure sores, a folk remedy may still be the most affordable and effective treatment available.
Folk RemediesHoney, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels: The Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales. JAMA. 1998;279(18):1494. doi:10.1001/jama.279.18.1494-JBK0513-2-1