biomedicalephemera:

The Four Temperaments: Melancholia - Black Bile

Melancholy: from the Greek melas-, meaning “black” - the same root found in melanin -, and kholé-, or “bile”

An overabundance of black bile in the system was believed to cause introversion, with a strong tendency towards depression, moodiness, and “the vapours”. Later, while this trait was believed to be easily imbalanced, it was not believed to be entirely negative - “melancholics” were thought to be studious and perfectionist in their works, and good at observation.

People with a chronic overabundance of this bile were believed to be possessed by the devil by Hippocrates, but by the age of Galen (500 years later), that belief was no longer considered accurate. The failure to re-balance the humours was at that point believed to be because of an insufficiently considered diet, and a predisposition towards a certain set of traits.

Facets of Melancholia:

  • Element: Earth (cold and dry)
  • Season: Autumn
  • Planet: Saturn
  • Direction: South
  • Organ: Spleen
  • Opposing humour: Blood
  • Characteristics: Introversion, perfectionism, retention, guarded nature, despondence, sleeplessness. Balance between feminine and masculine.
  • Associated diseases: Myriad, including nearly all non-schizoid mental disorders, paralysis or stiffness of joints, cachexia, slow digestion, and cancers. Disorders associated with a lack of blood, such as ischemia (restricted bloodflow to an area, often causing tissue damage), were also associated with black bile.

To re-balance black bile, warming and moist herbs and herbal tinctures were the most common cure. Adding “bulky” (fibrous) foods and eliminating nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes) was a common later suggestion, during the 18th century.

Stewed meat and blood-benefiting (so as to counteract the black bile) foods such as nettle were also suggested by Avicenna.

[The Four Humors at the NIH]

The Four Temperaments: Choleric - Yellow Bile

Choleric: “Easily angered, hot-tempered”. From Late Latin cholericius, meaning “bilious”, or “full of bile”, from Greek kholerikos, “an excess of bile”. Khole-, or “bile”, is combined with the suffix -ous, meaning “a state of”. 

As one might expect, “cholera" is derived from choleric. It was believed to be a state of putrefaction of the yellow bile.

——————————————————

When “bile” is referred to on its own, with no qualifier, it’s assumed to be yellow bile, which was thought to originate from the spleen. The substance that is now called “bile" and is used in digestion is the yellow-green substance stored in the gallbladder, which originates in the liver, and is the substance that the Greek and Roman physicians referred to.

An overabundance of yellow bile was believed to result in a hot temper, rash disposition, and viciousness. Like all of the humours, a proper balance was thought to be the key to a healthy life. In humourism, people were thought to be born with a certain disposition, which created a slight overabundance of one humour or another. However, if a vice or poor diet was adopted, anyone could develop a dystemper (“bad temper”) in any of their humours.

In its positive state, many world and warfaring leaders were thought to be Choleric.

Facets of Choleric Temperaments:

  • Element: Fire (hot and dry)
  • Season: Summer
  • Planet: Mars
  • Organ: Liver (Gall Bladder)
  • Opposing humour: Phlegm
  • Characteristics: Natural leadership, aggression, self-motivation, “short fuse”, passion. Irritability.
  • Associated diseases: Many stomach ailments such as ulcers and acid reflux. Hemorrhoids, headaches, jaundice, and inflammatory conditions. Hypersensitivity of the skin and digestive tract. Gallstones. Nosebleeds.

An excess of yellow bile was thought to be caused by an excessively fast-paced lifestyle, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and eating red meat, spicy food, and rich cheese.

To re-balance yellow bile, it was suggested to abstain from greasy foods, alcohol, and tobacco. If that did not cure the ailment, a strict diet was advised, but because Choleric types were natural leaders and often affluent, the advice was rarely heeded.

[The Four Humors at the NIH]

iowanaturalhistory:

#TBT: Student in anatomical modeling class, c. 1945

iowanaturalhistory:

#TBT: Student in anatomical modeling class, c. 1945

oupacademic:


By the time the AIDs virus, HIV, was discovered in 1983 it had been silently spreading in Africa for over 50 years. First it jumped from chimps to humans in south east Cameroon, most likely via a bush meat hunter. But scientists pinpoint Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo) 700 kilometres away as the epicentre of the pandemic. So an unwitting human virus carrier probably took HIV down the Sangha and Congo Rivers by ferry, reaching the city by the 1920s. Then, aided by an explosion in STDs in the 1930s and possible virus transmission via antibiotic treatment using contaminated needles in the 1940s-1950s, the virus gained a foothold in Kinshasa. But there the trail went cold - exactly how HIV spread from Kinshasa to the rest of Africa remained a mystery.
Now scientists have found the answer – the railways. Built by colonial powers from the 1920s onwards to transport diamonds from remote mining towns to Leopoldville, trains inadvertently carried the virus inside human cargo to these rapidly growing centres. And from there HIV stealthy crept across Africa. Then in 1964 the virus took flight to Haiti and onwards to the US three years later – its global journey had begun. 

- Dorothy H. Crawford, author of Virus Hunt
Image: Union of South Africa rail travel, by Andrew. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

oupacademic:

By the time the AIDs virus, HIV, was discovered in 1983 it had been silently spreading in Africa for over 50 years. First it jumped from chimps to humans in south east Cameroon, most likely via a bush meat hunter. But scientists pinpoint Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo) 700 kilometres away as the epicentre of the pandemic. So an unwitting human virus carrier probably took HIV down the Sangha and Congo Rivers by ferry, reaching the city by the 1920s. Then, aided by an explosion in STDs in the 1930s and possible virus transmission via antibiotic treatment using contaminated needles in the 1940s-1950s, the virus gained a foothold in Kinshasa. But there the trail went cold - exactly how HIV spread from Kinshasa to the rest of Africa remained a mystery.

Now scientists have found the answer – the railways. Built by colonial powers from the 1920s onwards to transport diamonds from remote mining towns to Leopoldville, trains inadvertently carried the virus inside human cargo to these rapidly growing centres. And from there HIV stealthy crept across Africa. Then in 1964 the virus took flight to Haiti and onwards to the US three years later – its global journey had begun. 

- Dorothy H. Crawford, author of Virus Hunt

Image: Union of South Africa rail travel, by Andrew. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

what is black vapours of the bile — Asked by Anonymous

I assume you refer to my post on Black Bile/Melancholic temperament?

The Vapours” was an archaic medical term which was basically the female analog to “melancholia" in men. It referred to a variety of acute and chronic mental illnesses, especially "hysteria”, but encompassing anxiety to chronic depression.

When it’s used in modern media in reference to early Victorian society, it generally refers to acute anxiety (or the sudden debilitation of a panic attack), which was one of the many uses of the term back when it was still in medical use.

It was believed to be caused by an excess of black bile (the “humour” created by the spleen). Today we know that these problems are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, not humour imbalances. It’s also probably not a good idea to solve your problems by sticking leeches all over yourself…

biomedicalephemera:

Cure your hysteria today!

"Mechanical vibration, which properly includes two forms of application — spinal stimulation and vibra-massage - has established an important place in therapeutics which it is certain to fill to the advantage of suffering humanity."

From Catalogue No. 3 of Electro-Theraputic Apparatus from the Friedlander Co., 1905

Let us dance!
A giant octopus (Enteroctopus spp.) grapples a sailor, clearly in an attempt to steal a dance.
Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom. S. G. Goodrich, 1859.

Let us dance!

A giant octopus (Enteroctopus spp.) grapples a sailor, clearly in an attempt to steal a dance.

Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom. S. G. Goodrich, 1859.

Top: Rodent ulcer of twelve years duration (spontaneous cicatrization [sealing off; stopping spreading])

Bottom: Rodent ulcer of sixteen years duration (Terebant [Piercing] type)

Rodent ulcers” (also known as Jacobi ulcers) are so named due to their rat-gnawed appearance.
They are a manifestation of basal-cell carcinoma (BCC), and while they’re rarely fatal, they have the potential to be extremely disfiguring. Unlike most BCCs, rodent ulcers have significant central necrotization, leading to more tissue damage.

While the extreme destruction seen on these two patients is no longer commonplace in the developed world, treatment and removal of these ulcers can be very expensive, and they often recur, even with treatment. As they don’t often kill and often strike the very elderly, with removal frequently being more painful than the ulcer itself, basal-cell carcinoma is of the few cancers that is often simply monitored, rather than aggressively treated.

In Caucasian people, up to 30% of adults will develop some form of this cancer in their lifetimes. The most common cause is significant unprotected sun exposure, but genetics also plays a role in susceptibility. Thankfully, rodent ulcers are one of the less-common presentations.

Diseases of the Skin. James H. Sequeira, 1919.

Judging by those I know, absolutely. But again, I can only speak for what I know, which is the US (and the med friends I have in a few parts of Canada.
I only know one person who got a scholarship to med school, and she came from a very unique situation, it wasn’t a full ride, and it was from an outside source (not the school itself). From what I gather, it’s pretty much assumed that anyone who goes to med school in the US is going to have substantial debt for at least their first decade after graduation, no matter what their country of origin is. 
If I’m totally off-base here, let me know, my lovely medblrs! I don’t have personal experience and I’ve never researched it. I’m just going off of a very small sample size and a few probably-errant news articles.

Judging by those I know, absolutely. But again, I can only speak for what I know, which is the US (and the med friends I have in a few parts of Canada.

I only know one person who got a scholarship to med school, and she came from a very unique situation, it wasn’t a full ride, and it was from an outside source (not the school itself). From what I gather, it’s pretty much assumed that anyone who goes to med school in the US is going to have substantial debt for at least their first decade after graduation, no matter what their country of origin is.

If I’m totally off-base here, let me know, my lovely medblrs! I don’t have personal experience and I’ve never researched it. I’m just going off of a very small sample size and a few probably-errant news articles.

Hey, just wondering if you know of any genetics blogs at all? Thanks :) — Asked by dragonhearts

You know, I know a few blogs by genetics enthusiasts/geneticists, but none that are dedicated to solely genetics.

That said, some of my favorite and more “hard-science” blogs that have some good genetics stuff are

UCResearch

Neuromorphogenesis

Research Means Hope

KQED Science

*adds “Update Recommended Blogs” to list of To-Dos*

In the mean time, I highly recommend shychemist’s lists of Sciblogs!

Do you know any medical blogs that focus on reproductive science? I'm interested in being a midwife, but I'm not sure where to learn about it. — Asked by Anonymous

Followers? Any suggestions?

I’m actually looking for some good ones, too (though more gyno/obst-centric than midwife-centric), so if you have any suggestions, reply to this post!

EtA: I know a lot of good midwife programs, but are there any good blogs that cover either that or gynecology/obstetrics really well? Even off-tumblr is fine.

For reference, off of here I tend to follow people like SkepticOB (though I frequently disagree with her ways of presenting an argument) and Dr. Jen Gunter, and non-OB/GYN specialists such as Drs. Harriet Hall, Vincent Ranicello, and Mark Crislip.

Hello! First of all, I want to congratulate you for our blog. I have found several enlightening posts here from time to time. Unfortunately, I have a question that will make me sound lazy; do I have to have a high GPA in order to get an M.D. Scholarship in another country? I live in Brazil and have just started my Biomedical Sciences Bachelor's degree in UFF (Universidade Federal Fluminense, my university). However, even if I study a lot, I have been having trouble with some subjects... — Asked by awesomegeekyknight

Sometimes, laziness is a matter of not finding something that you have a passion for, or putting yourself into a lifestyle that doesn’t suit the way your brain works - and, as I know all too well, mental illness can also greatly hinder potential, but that’s beside the point.

Anyway, I can only speak for what I know of the US, but I know that for most medical schools here, you need a very good GPA (and certain courses - all of which should be covered in a Biomedical Sciences degree) to even get into an out-of-state university, let alone get a scholarship, and I would have to assume that out-of-country applicants are subjected to similar standards.

That said, I’m not a doctor, I never went to medical school, and I only have the experience of friends and news reports to go off of, not any academic study or survey. I have a friend who started out quite poorly his freshman year, but who improved so drastically over his second and third years in college that the general upward trend, combined with overall evidence that he was actually taking life seriously and buckling down, let him get into med school.

There are lots of careers out there in medicine, and a ton of them don’t require med school. In general though, a high GPA is always better than a low one, and an upward trend is better than a downward one.

Or you could stay in the biomedical field and find drugs that make us less dead! You are in Brazil, one of the best places in the world for bioprospecting and pharmaceutical anthropology! Of course, there are many laboratory and hospital jobs around the world which care more about your experience than your GPA - if you truly think you’re “too far gone” to get a good bachelor’s GPA, I’d work on getting contacts and experience in the lab, because that looks good on any application - medical school or not. :)

View of a Skull III.
There’s so much space in there. Use it.
Leonardo da Vinci, 1489.

View of a Skull III.

There’s so much space in there. Use it.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1489.

I'm glad you're back — Asked by Anonymous

Yay! Me too. And I hope to actually get around to some stuff I’ve intended for quite a while, but I do start a new job soon, so I’m trying to keep myself not-burned-out/not-totally-crazy, as I don’t want to just go caput for that long again.

Sorta-Related Recent inquiries:

- Yes, I did complete the first giveaway! Unfortunately, after I got confirmation that my package got to its destination, I never heard back from the guy. You know who you are! Send me pics!

- Yes, I do have more to give away! I wasn’t lying when I said I had WAY too much of this stuff lying around. I’m not gonna burn myself out and not get to it this time…but I might forget. So don’t feel bad if you poke me in a few weeks to ask about it.

- The Zarkster is…well, he’s okay. He’s good. We paid off our CareCredit account with the funds raised, so we’ll be able to put his surgery on there (no, his tooth isn’t out yet). Thank you again for all of the support <3 

Anyway, Zarky is currently dealing with a very stubborn sebaceous cyst that was, for a time, getting recurring infections, but is now just healing…very, very slowly. We don’t want to have him get his tooth out and his maxilla ablated while he’s still healing. Hopefully that will be all closed up by the end of November. Hopefully. *shakes fists at nefarious skin conditions* Zarky disapproves of his skin.

"A black cat brings good luck to the theater"

Cats have no problem walking along the theater catwalks; the tail, flexible spine, and very sensitive inner ear all contribute to their exquisite balance (and ability to land on their feet when they do fall!).

Anatomical Technology as applied to the Domestic Cat. Burt G. Wilder and Simon H. Gage, 1886.

The Cat. Violet Hunt, 1905.