Medicine

History of medicine; healing; herbalism

Genetic blood disorder may explain tragedy of Henry VIII

According to a new study, multiple miscarriages and dramatic personality transformation may be linked to a genetic condition related to the blood group carried by King Henry VIII of England.

Irish "giants" more truth than myth

The myth of Irish giants such as Fionn Mac Cumhail may contain a grain of truth, according to a recent genetic study. DNA may show that a strain of gigantism ran through five families in the northern part of the country.

Modern Humours Yahoo Group

Mistress Christianna MacGrain reports on the formation of the Modern Humours Yahoo Group, a discussion forum "open to all persons interested in historical reenactment while dealing with food sensitivities."

Study of 1510 pandemic may help modern researchers

A new study of the 1510 influenza pandemic by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases may help modern doctors plan for preventing, controlling and treating such diseases.

History of spectacles

Corrective lenses have a long history. Glasses filled with water and gems were used by Romans in the 1st century, while the Chinese developed spectacles in the 13th. In an article for the Telegraph, Victoria Ward looks at the history of eyeglasses.

Plague orignated in China

Several new studies of the Bubonic Plague, which devasted Europe in the Middle Ages and the 17th century, have led researchers to the conclusion that the disease originated in China and was carried west over the Silk Road.

Medical specimens of yore

Examining bodily fluids to determine ailments is a practice with roots going back to ancient times, as described in an article by Cristina Luiggi in The Scientist magazine.

Early medieval hospital found

Archaeologists working at the site of a former Leper Hospital at St Mary Magdalen in Winchester, England believe the hospital may date to the 11th century, making it the earliest known hospital in Britain.

Scientists establish that Yersinia pestis caused Black Death in Europe

An international group of scientists has produced a new study establishing Yersinia pestis as "the etiologic agent of modern plague." The study is especially interested in the second pandemic or the "Black Death" which ravaged Europe from 1347 until 1750.

Poor had healthier diet in the Middle Ages

"Interestingly it was the peasant class, whose diet would class today as healthy," said Dr Iona McCleery, a lecturer in medieval history at Leeds University, who heads a program which uses history to encourage children to eat better.

Archaeologists study remains at 16th century Icelandic hospital

For the past nine years, archaeologists have been excavating what they believe is Iceland's oldest hospital, dating to the early 16th century. The building, located near Skriduklaustur in east Iceland, was part of a monastery.

Time Team and students aid in investigation of medieval hospital

The South Yorkshire town of Bawtry, England, became a center of archaeological interest recently when excavation of a disused car part revealed a dozen skeletons dating to the 14th century.

Medici "murder" solved

For centuries, it was theorized that Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello were murdered, but new evidence shows that their deaths were from natural causes.

Tewkesbury Medieval Fair features 11th century Saxon poop

Discovered in 1991 in Gloucestershire, England, a small pile of 11th century human feces has become something of a phenonmenon with the British public, drawing 11,000 visitors to the Discovery Zone of the Cheltenham Science Festival. Recently the exhibit was displayed at the Tewkesbury Medieval Fair.

Medieval folk "aware of the value of a good smile"

According to a paper published in the British Dental Journal, medieval people were more aware of dental hygiene than previously believed, and had knowledge of teeth cleaning, fillings and dentures.

Did Alexander come to a Styx-y end?

A new speculation about the death of Alexander the Great suggests that the notoriously toxic waters of the River Styx (the modern river Mavroneri) may have taken his life.

Henry VIII's health analyzed on the NGC

Join a team of medical experts as they analyze one of history's greatest monarchs. Inside the Body of Henry VIII will air July 20, 2010 on the National Geographic Channel.

Science proves the value of pickle juice

That traditional jar of pickles on the list table is not just a superstition or a tasty snack. It turns out that, as athletes have long believed, pickle juice is effective at relieving exercise-induced muscle cramps.

House goes medieval

Fans of both the SCA and the Fox TV series House will be pleased with episode 17 of season 6, "Knight Fall," which begins with a battle at a Renaissance Festival.

Wet summers may have contributed to devastation of Black Plague

A team of scientists, who have studied tree rings and medieval wooden architectural materials to determine the climate of the late Middle Ages, report that wet summers were a contributing factor to the disaster of the Black Death in the 14th century.

Brain of a medieval child found in France

Scientists have found a 13th century preserved brain, complete with intact neurons and brain cells, inside the skull of an 18-month old child found in northwestern France.

12th century leper hospital explored in England

A team of young archeologists is excavating the site of the St Mary Magdalen leper hospital in Winchester. A BBC video chronicles the recent finds at the site. (video)

Roman bones show life of "disease and hard labour"

The discovery of a Roman grave in Weston-super-Mare, England last year has given experts insight into the life of 2nd-4th century Roman inhabitants of Britain. This particular man, aged between 36 and 45,  lived a life "defined by disease and hard labour."

Mona Lisa suffered from high cholesterol

Vito Franco of the University of Palermo thinks Mona Lisa is sick, that is, she suffered from "worryingly high levels of cholesterol." Franco bases his observations on a "xanthelasma – a subcutaneous accumulation of cholesterol – in the hollow of the Mona Lisa's left eye, and a tell-tale lipoma, a fatty tissue tumour, on one hand."

Diane de Poitiers, victim of own vanity?

Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II of France, was known for her youthful looks, which kept the interest of the king, twenty years her junior, but did her vanity and desperation lead to her death? Experts believe they did.

Lycanthropy and the Byzantines

Apparently the Byzantines had a werewolf problem, according to a new article by four scholars from the University of Athens. "Lycanthropy in Byzantine times ([CE] 330–1453)," looks at how doctors in the Empire dealt with patients who believed they were werewolves.

Graveyard reveals medical secrets of medieval Ireland

The history of medieval medicine in Ireland got a major boost with the discovery of a previously unknown medieval church and graveyard in Ballyhanna, County Donegal. Among the surprises was evidence of successful brain surgery performed around the year 800.

New excavations at Stonehenge may prove site a place of sacred healing

It has been over 40 years since any significant excavation have been done at Stonehenge, but during the spring of 2009, that changed when Timothy Darvill, professor of archaeology at Bournemouth University, and Geoffrey Wainwright, president of the Society of Antiquaries of London, headed a new dig in the monument's inner circle.

Inbreeding may have led to the demise of the Hapsburgs

A new study by geneticists from the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain shows that inbreeding may have weakened the male line and brought about the end of the Hapsburg dynasty. The last king, Charles II of Spain, died in 1700 without male heirs.

Was Henry VIII's Tyranny the Result of a Brain Injury?

A new theory suggests that Henry VIII underwent a personality change as the result of a head injury he suffered while jousting.