Let’s Read The Journal of Materia Medica, 1882

The lovely Future Ex-Mrs. Malcolm said it would be cool for me to do this, so I figured I’d give it a go. I recently had the good fortune to acquire three issues of The Journal of Materia Medica from April, July and November 1882. So I figured hey, let’s share what was on the cutting edge of medicine in the late 19th century. I’ll warn you, none of this is peer-reviewed like medical journals today. It’s all subjective, written almost like a diary in many cases, and much of the time is like a “how not to do things” guide more than anything. With that in mind, let’s get going.IMG_3964.JPG


Here we have the best and brightest minds in the field of obstetrics wondering if virgins can have molar pregnancies. Guys, they are called molar pregnancies. There is still a placenta. I know it’s 1882, and I know the thing is ugly, but reproductive science isn’t that hard.IMG_3966.JPG


Wow, both ergot and morphine? So you can remember your childbirth experience by being comfortably doped and having wild hallucinations. I can get behind this treatment, Dr. Kilgow.


So if you can’t get your hands on one terrible poison, just use strychnine for your lupus. I’ll keep this in mind in case I or a loved one comes down with this horrible affliction.



So here we have a doctor admitting he was trying to kill a kid with croup, and he cured him with the magical elixir of Diptherine. What is Diptherine? I honestly have no idea. I’ve looked it up and did a hell of a lot of research and cannot figure it out.


And now we get to poppers for uterine contractions. Giving birth back in the day was a really risky proposition, but at least the ladies under the care of these doctors had all of the fun drugs at their disposal.


Oh cool, we can treat lead poisoning with ergot too? What else can we treat with ergot?IMG_3975.JPG


Holy moly, that’s a lot of stuff! Even dysentery in children! Thanks, ergot! And here, I just thought you were an awful fungus that poisons people, causes hallucinations, seizures and, in other forms, gangrene and death.


I think you miscalculated the risk on that one, doc. I guess sterile leeches weren’t a thing yet in 1882.



Hey fellas, got an enlarged prostate? Just find some Queen of the Meadow tea. Should clear things right up for you.


I’m sorry, but I’m going to need to see the math on this one. Either this fella didn’t actually have necrosis of the femur, or Tilden & Co. paid you handsomely to write this nice write up about your patient recovering with their voodoo potion. I mean, they are sponsoring this journal, after all.

This next one is a doozy, just to warn you all.IMG_3999.JPG






Here we have 1882’s Jenny McCarthy, only this Jenny McCarthy unfortunately has a medical degree. Why is it that I, Rich Doctor Man, have not contracted variola in the middle of this epidemic when others who are lesser than I am have? Seriously dude, if you were alive now, I would find you and kick you in the shins for trying to suggest people shouldn’t be inoculated against smallpox during an epidemic and should try your cosmik debris instead. You are the worst.



But isn’t it nice that this guy got to write a short blurb about why vaccination for smallpox is good? After those several pages of claptrap, here’s someone saying that yes, we should vaccinate people. You know what would have really helped back in 1882? If the writings in these journals were peer-reviewed before they went to print and not just some anecdotal garbage coming out from some rando with a bug up his butt because he thinks smallpox only happens to the young, weak, poor and dirty.



The fetus had no head. That’s what “acephalous” means. I’d assume it died prior to labor, but that’s just me.


There’s that ergot again! Hey, do we have any diabetics reading this? Grow some rye and try to let it get moldy. Then eat that mold. Maybe you’ll stumble across your miracle cure!

Ad Time!


The large size comes with 30 vials and is only $12? What a bargain!


Hey ladies, doesn’t that look like the comfiest possible chair you could ever sit in while getting a pelvic exam? The days of tossing your feet up on the shoulders of the doctor examining you are over! (No, I am not making this up, that is what they used to do.)


Dr. Christie’s Galvanic Belt, powered by Zeus himself. It cures anything and everything. Rheumatism, paralysis, fits, and kidney complaints. What kind of kidney complaints, you ask? Why, any kidney complaint you could possibly imagine!


This device you’d hand crank and it could also cure just about anything, delivering electroshocks to the person being treated. Oh Dr. Kidder, what a kidder you were with this nonsense.


Sexual exhaustion, hysteria, weakness and opium habit. Celerina can cure it all!

Thank you for humoring me with this trip down the annals of medical history. And uh, don’t do anything these people did. They were crazy.