The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities: An Unconventional Compendium of Health Facts and Oddities, from Asthmatic Mice to Plants that Can Kill

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Macmillan, Jul 21, 2009 - Health & Fitness - 225 pages
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Delightful doses of medical miscellany about wacky doctors and their curious patients, from their smallest bones (the stapes) to their heaviest organs (the liver)

In this addictive collection of trivia, Nicholas Bakalar, the "Vital Signs" columnist for The New York Times, spoons out the things you never realized you really want to know about your body and your health.

Bakalar shares the wonders of medicine, from medical firsts (in 1667, the first survivor of a blood transfusion received sheep's blood) to medical onlys (rabies is the only infectious disease that is 100 percent curable when treated and 100 percent fatal if not). He takes a tour of diseases that belong in horror movies: liquefying organs, flesh-eating bacteria, mushrooms sprouting in the throat. He notes remarkable remedies, such as dark chocolate, which can stand in for blood-pressure pills. And he dissects the chemistry of the human body (including the 0.0000000000000015259 percent that is radium).

With a specialist's attention to the funny bone as well as the gray matter, Bakalar's The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities tickles the curiosity of both the healthy and the hypochondriac, following Voltaire's dictum that "the art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 By the Numbers
3
2 Butterflies in the Stomach
15
3 X Y and Sex
38
4 Bedside Manner
51
5 Lab Rat
69
6 Biohazard
79
7 The Perfect Cure
97
9 Invention Is the Best Medicine
129
10 Scared to Death
162
11 Gray Matter
181
12 An Appendix
193
Notes
197
Acknowledgments
209
Illustration Credits
211
Index
213

8 Prevention Is the Best Medicine
109

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About the author (2009)

Nicholas Bakalar, a longtime “Vital Signs” columnist for The New York Times, is the author or co-author of twelve books, including Where the Germs Are: A Scientific Safari. He has also reported on health and science news for Discover magazine, Wildlife Conservation, and National Geographic News. He lives in New York City.

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