Before modern medicine and the pharmaceutical conglomerates of today came centuries of scientific exploration and chemical experimentation.
If the description “Gauze containing double cyanide of mercury and zinc” intrigues and horrifies you, read on and discover many fascinating facts and stories on the path to modern medicine.
But this month’s selection also contains titles with more up-to-the-minute advice and information.
Pills & potions at the Cotter Medical History Trust / Claire Le Couteur.
“In this fascinating and by turns alarming book, Claire Le Couteur has researched the background to some of the popular medical remedies on sale in New Zealand in the 19th and early 20th centuries, based on items found in the collection of The Cotter Medical History Trust. The Cotter Trust was established in Christchurch by retired surgeon Pat Cotter, with the aim “to collect, preserve and display artifacts of the mediacl nature”.
It now holds the largest collection in the country of biographical notes of doctors, dentiits, technical, managerial, administrative and nursing staff who have worked in Canterbury. This is augmented by a museum of historical medical implements and equipment, edicines and pharmacy equipment, photographs, documents, memorabilia and books… Pills & Potions is a collector’s dream.” (Cover)
Extreme medicine : how exploration transformed medicine in the twentieth century / Kevin Fong, M. D.
“”Drawing on his own experience as an anesthesiologist, intensive care expert, and NASA adviser, Dr. Kevin Fong examines how cuttingedge medicine pushes the envelope of human survival by studying the human body’s response when tested by physical extremes. Extreme Medicine explores different limits of endurance and the lens each offers on one of the systems of the body. The challenges of Arctic exploration created opportunities for breakthroughs in open heart surgery; battlefield doctors pioneered techniques for skin grafts, heart surgery, and trauma care; underwater and outer space exploration have revolutionized our understanding of breathing, gravity, and much more. Avant-garde medicine is fundamentally changing our ideas about the nature of life and death.
Through astonishing accounts of extraordinary events and pioneering medicine, Fong illustrates the sheer audacity of medical practice at extreme limits, where human life is balanced on a knife’s edge. Extreme Medicine is a gripping debut about the science of healing, but also about exploration in its broadest sense—and about how, by probing the very limits of our biology, we may ultimately return with a better appreciation of how our bodies work, of what life is, and what it means to be human.” (From amazon.com)
Ship of death : a voyage that changed the Atlantic world / Billy G. Smith.
“Smith (Montana State Univ.; coeditor, Class Matters: Early North America and the Atlantic World, CH, Feb’09, 46-3432; editor, Down and Out in Early America, 2004) has crafted an excellent work of historical detection. Using primary sources, he contributes to the tradition of medical-colonial history initiated by Alfred Crosby in The Columbian Exchange (CH, Mar’73). The author offers few heroes, creating a realistic narrative about the ill-fated attempt of English colonists who in 1792 traveled aboard the Hankey to establish a colony based on paid rather than slave labor in Bolama, West Africa. Plagued by inept leadership, these mostly secular abolitionists brought smallpox, met warlike natives, and encountered yellow fever. Sailing to the New World when their lease expired, they carried the mosquito vector for yellow fever, initiating an epidemic in 1793 that changed the course of the Haitian revolution. Few passengers survived to return to England. While telling a fascinating story, Smith provides insight into the cultures and ethnocentricities of natives and colonists, and the workings of the slave trade. Essential for early American and Haitian revolution scholars and medical historians.” (CHOICE)
The last asylum : a memoir of madness in our times / Barbara Taylor.
“The Last Asylum begins with Barbara Taylor’s visit to the innocuously named Princess Park Manor in Friern Barnet, North London — a picture of luxury and repose. But this is the former site of one of England’s most infamous lunatic asylums, the Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Aslyum at Colney Hatch. At its peak this asylum housed nearly 3,000 patients — among them, in the 1980s, Barbara Taylor herself.
The Last Asylum is Taylor’s powerful account of her battle with mental illness, set inside the wider story of the end of the UK asylum system.
Barbara Taylor’s previous books include an award-winning study of nineteenth-century socialist feminism, Eve and the New Jerusalem; an intellectual biography of the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft; and On Kindness, a defence of fellow feeling co-written with the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. She is a longstanding editor of the leading history journal, History Workshop Journal, and a director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre. She teaches history and English at Queen Mary University of London.” (From amazon.co.uk)
Chronic resilience : 10 sanity-saving tools for women coping with the stress of illness / Danea Horn, CPC.
“Chronic illness comes with stress, and Chronic Resilience provides a complete self-help blueprint for managing the difficulties chronic illness presents. Certified life coach and speaker Danea Horn, who suffers from chronic kidney disease, infertility, and other demanding health challenges due to a birth disorder, offers techniques and ways to rebound from the pressures of having a body that’s doing things you wish you could control. Chronic Resilience shows how to: Stop pushing yourself so hard. Use research to empower – not frighten – yourself. Let yourself be pissed! Train your troops in how to care for you. Cultivate focus and flexibility. Find things to be grateful for. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Each chapter also contains highlights of interviews with women dealing with chronic health issues ranging from cancer to organ transplant, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), MS, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, and others”. (Syndetics)
B is for breast cancer : from anxiety to recovery and everything in between – a beginner’s guide / Christine Hamill.
“A friendly and practical insider’s guide. Full of tips, advice, explanation and reassurance, it will be an invaluable companion throughout your treatment. It will even make you laugh, even when you don’t feel much like it. ‘The day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was standing in the chemist with a basket in my hand, blinking back tears and thinking, “Now what does a breast cancer patient need?” All I could come up with was waterproof mascara. I put some in my basket and thought someone should write an alternative guide to breast cancer. Step one – buy waterproof mascara. You’re going to need it. A few short months later, I found I was writing the guide myself. I sat in bed in between hospital appointments with my laptop, furiously, desperately trying to make sense of this alien world I had entered.’ Written entirely while Christine Hamill was undergoing cancer treatment, this book is an honest and frank account of the emotional and physical impact of a cancer diagnosis. It as at turns funny, sad, angry and ultimately optimistic. Written without sentimentality, B IS FOR BREAST CANCER offers bite-size chunks of help and hope – a daily pep talk to anyone affected by the disease. It’s packed full of the practical information that you really need. Read this book. It helps to know you are not alone.” (Syndetics)
The kind mama : a simple guide to supercharged fertility, a radiant pregnancy, a sweeter birth, and a healthier, more beautiful beginning / Alicia Silverstone ; photography by Amy Neunsinger.
“The bestselling author of The Kind Diet offers natural solutions for a healthier and more vibrant approach to new motherhood. When did making babies get to be so hard? Infertility is on the rise globally, affecting as many as one in six couples. But instead of considering diet and lifestyle factors, doctors pump their patients full of expensive and invasive fertility treatments. Once pregnant, women just accept that carrying a baby will be the gassy, swollen, irritable, sleepless nightmare that has become the new normal–and then assume that new motherhood will be just as challenging, from breastfeeding woes to screaming fits. It doesn’t have to be that way. In The Kind Mama, Alicia Silverstone has created a comprehensive and practical guide empowering women to take charge of their fertility, pregnancy, and first 6 months with baby. Drawing on her own experience, as well as that of obstetricians, midwives, nutritionists, holistic health counselors, and others, Silverstone offers advice on getting one’s “baby house” in order through nutrient-rocking foods that heal and nourish, and, once pregnant, gentle ways to boost comfort, energy, and health during each trimester. She helps readers navigate everything from prenatal testing and birth plans to successful breastfeeding and creating a supportive “baby nest.” The result is an authoritative, one-stop guide that empowers women to trust their instincts during this vital milestone, while helping them embark on a healthy and more vibrant path to motherhood”. (Syndetics)
The man who couldn’t stop : OCD, and the true story of a life lost in thought / David Adam.
“Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building, or steer your car into oncoming traffic? You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, writer David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us towards obsessions and compulsions.
David has suffered from OCD for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. What might lead an Ethiopian schoolgirl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece; or a pair of brothers to die beneath an avalanche of household junk that they had compulsively hoarded? At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts? Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal, and what is mental illness.
Told with fierce clarity, humour and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare, and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.” (Syndetics)
Food for fitness : how to eat for maximum performance / Anita Bean.
“Food for Fitness’ is the bible for anyone who is serious about their sport, health and fitness. It is divided into three sections: exercise and nutrition, meal plans, and recipes.” (Cover)
Younger next week : your ultimate Rx to reverse the clock, boost energy and look and feel younger in 7 days / Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN.
“Dietician and nutritionist Zeid (Nutrition at Your Fingertips) is a multitasker, but admits that her active lifestyle had begun to sap her vitality. Scouring recent research and conducting her own modest survey of 100 women, Zied concludes that women frequently turn to undesirable coping strategies when stress weighs them down: overeating, cravings, dieting, nighttime eating, skipping meals, and consuming alcohol and caffeine. To overcome these pitfalls, Zied presents a well-rounded, whole foods diet intended to address what she calls the “7 Pillars of Vitality,” including a radiant appearance, boundless energy, brighter moods, effortless weight management, better memory, a sense of calm, and supercharged health and well-being. In Part I, readers can take the author’s quiz to see where they fall on the stress level charts before diving into Part II: “The Vitality Program.” Zied has a flare for organization and presentation, walking readers through carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, antioxidants, and other topics, and clearly explaining the role of each in keeping the body healthy. Unsurprisingly, Zied establishes a clear link between proper diet, sleep, exercise, and hydration, and looking and feeling invigorated.” (Publisher Weekly)