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July 18, 1936


Author Affiliations


From the Departments of Neuropsychiatry, Dermatology and Physical Medicine of Northwestern University Medical School and Wesley Memorial Hospital.

JAMA. 1936;107(3):194-199. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770290022006

Medical history is replete with stories of the resurrection of ancient formulas and therapies. From time to time the most modern researches have extracted the essence from gleanings of empirical therapeutic methods, superstitions and medieval nostrums. Such reanimated knowledge has often given a new impetus to the entire field of therapeutics. It is as if the dust of ages were shaken from the golden threads of a fine garment, and these threads then respun into a glittering vestment to serve present needs.

The empirical treatment of syphilis by means of heat harks back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, when this disease had been spread over much of Europe. During this period, this scourge was fought with various forms of heat. Sometimes thick blankets and hot baths were used alone; more often these were employed in conjunction with drugs, especially mercury. As late as 1872, very hot stove-heated rooms