I work in education and have a lot of dealings with medicine and other healthcare related information and has also enabled me to visit the Royal College of Physicians in London, England. These types of museums I really find fascinating and macabre in their teachings of how experiments used to be carried out, what healthcare remedies and practices used to be performed and how barbaric some of it was. It certainly makes you glad and grateful for being born later on in the medical world.
Being in the healthcare environment, I also get to see a myriad of research activities particularly on obesity and the dietary industry and, being somebody who is always trying to lose weight, it is an interesting topic to see how things have progressed over the years.
History’s Fad Diets
In January 2013 the BBC featured an article on the weirdest fad diets that have come and gone throughout the years. From rubber undergarments used to promote sweat to diets containing high levels of vinegar or pills that were laced with arsenic and could cause ‘arsenic poisoning’! to such practices of ‘fletcherism’ where the person would chew a certain number of times depending on what the food was (e.g. a shallot needing to be chewed 700 times!) and then spitting out what was left.
But I think the worst diet fad in the list was the consuming of tape worms. Beef tapeworm cysts would be taken by the dieter in the form of a pill, the tapeworm would then grow in the dieter’s intestines and once maturity is reached they would absorb their host’s food. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, the tapeworm could grow up to 30 feet in length and they would then have to be excreted by the dieter which ‘obviously’ could cause abdominal and rectal complications!
Yeah I think I’ll stick to my lettuce…
The RCP London
The Royal College of Physicians was established in 1518 by Henry 8th. It was to license physicians to practice and also prosecute physicians who did not have a license to practice. The museum holds a significant amount of portraits, silver objects and medical instruments. Tours of the RCP London can show you its history and the spectacular piece of architecture it resides in. Even the gardens are a wonder to walk through which continues the theme of medicine containing around 1,300 plant varieties that were all used in one way or another for medicinal purposes.