26 February 2009

The most famous medical experiments on yourself

Maxim Russo, Be Healthy magazineHistory knows a lot of doctors who got sick while doing their duty.

But there were also those who deliberately infected themselves or harmed themselves in order to test the hypothesis by experiment.

Infectious diseasesPerhaps, most of the experiments on themselves, doctors have put, proving the contagiousness of various diseases.

For example, Dr. A. White died in Egypt in 1802 after injecting the pus of a patient with bubonic plague into his wound.

At the beginning of the XX century, doctors investigated yellow fever, which killed thousands of people in America and Africa. Most then believed that this disease was caused by soil evaporation. When the Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay spoke at the Paris Academy of Sciences with the hypothesis that yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes of a certain species, no one believed him. The proof of this was only the death of the doctor Jesse Lasear, who gave himself to be bitten by such a mosquito that had previously bitten a fever patient.

Many doctors have infected themselves with typhus in order to find out the ways of spreading this disease, to find out which insects can transmit it, and which animals can be its source. Doctors deliberately infected themselves with leishmaniasis, tularemia, gonorrhea, syphilis and many other diseases.

Methods of combating infectious diseases also required experimental verification. When Louis Pasteur created a rabies vaccine, it was feared for some time to be used in cases where it was not known for sure whether a dog that had bitten a person had rabies. It was feared that if the dog turned out to be healthy, the effect of the vaccine would cause rabies in humans. The doctor Emmerich Ullmann suggested Pasteur to conduct an experiment on himself. He just came to Pasteur and said, "Get me vaccinated. Let's see if I die of rabies or not." Ullman survived, and this helped the spread of the Pasteur vaccine.

Sometimes experiments on the transmission of infection give themselves a negative answer, but even in this case they can be very unpleasant for the doctor. American professor Joseph Goldberger in 1916 decided to establish whether pellagra is an infectious disease or whether it belongs to beriberi. To do this, Goldberger and fifteen of his colleagues put the experience on themselves. They took material from patients with pellagra: blood, discharge from the nose and mouth, skin scales – and mixed it with their food for a month. None of the doctors got sick with pellagra, which refuted the opinion about its infectious nature. It is now known that pellagra is caused by a lack of nicotinic acid in the body.

MedicationMany doctors and chemists, studying the properties of various substances, were not afraid to put experiments on themselves.

Apparently, they were not afraid of the tragic fate of the great Karl Scheele, who discovered prussic acid and tasted it.

American Roger Smith from Utah in 1944 volunteered, under the supervision of colleagues, to investigate the properties of curare poison on himself. After the injection, paralysis began to develop. At first, the throat muscles were paralyzed, and Smith thought that he would choke on saliva, then the paralysis spread to the muscles of the extremities, after that it became difficult to breathe. Only emergency resuscitation was able to save Smith. The doctor did not take risks in vain. As a result of his research, it became possible to use curare in small doses to relax the abdominal muscles during surgical operations.

By experience on themselves, doctors proved the effectiveness of the remedies they developed against snake venom. One of the first was the Swiss Jacques Ponto, who tested the serum he created against the venom of the viper. On May 5, 1933, he let himself be bitten by three vipers and survived. Later, similar experiments were done by doctors when developing antidotes against the poisons of other snake species.A lot of experiments were made by doctors on themselves in search of a medicine that would relieve people from pain.

Apothecary Friedrich Serturner in the early XIX century made a number of experiments on himself with opium powder to establish the optimal dose size for anesthesia. In the middle of the XIX century, Paolo Mantegazza experimented with coca leaves, describing in detail his feelings after chewing the leaves or drinking their infusion. Experiments on scientists paved the way for epidural anesthesia, which is based on the introduction of an analgesic into the spinal canal. The author of the method – German surgeon August Beer – in order to get a complete picture of the effect of this anesthesia, he experimented on injecting cocaine into his cerebrospinal fluid.

ParasitesParasitic animals were also not ignored by dedicated doctors.

Experiments on infecting oneself with parasites have been conducted a lot in different countries. Russian doctors and scientists have specially infected themselves with bovine chain . Strom in the 1930s and F. Talyzin in the late 1940s. The length of an adult bull chain is from 4 to 10 meters with a width of 5-7 millimeters. The doctors decided to infect themselves in order to find out what the cycle of development of the parasite is, and how it can be diagnosed. Both experimenters had to go through a lot of unpleasant moments. Fedor Talyzin, having swallowed two worm larvae, carried the parasite for 122 days. For most of this period, the doctor experienced nausea and upset stomach. When the worms reached the adult stage, the lower segments of their body began to come off and, acquiring the ability to crawl independently, got out of the human intestine outside. Finally, after Talyzin took a drug that kills the tapeworm, it turned out that two worms with a total length of 9 meters 80 centimeters lived in his intestines.

Food and hungerA lot of experiments have been conducted in the field of nutrition.

Dr. William Stark (1740 – 1770) from London was especially fond of them. He chose a certain type of food and for several weeks ate only it to prove that there is food "harmful" and "harmless". At first, Stark's diet consisted of bread and water, then he included olive oil in the food set, then he began to eat meat, bread and water, followed by such food sets as bread, lard and tea; or bread, melted butter, water and salt. With these experiments, he thoroughly undermined his health, and died at the age of 29 when he tried to eat only Chester cheese.

The followers of Stark in the XIX century were Johann Ranke and Max Rubner, who found out for themselves whether a person could eat meat alone (they came to the conclusion that they could not).

Where there are experiments with nutrition, there is not far from experiments with hunger. The American doctor Tanner, for scientific purposes, condemned himself to starvation for 40 days. The weight loss was 33 pounds (over 16 kilograms). To test his hypothesis about the causes of beriberi disease (beriberi, which develops with a lack of vitamin B1), common in Southeast Asia, the doctor Moshkovsky, who worked in New Guinea, ate only polished rice for eleven months. His idea was confirmed, he fell ill with beriberi in a severe form.

On the high seasSpeaking of risky experiments on oneself, one cannot help but recall the French doctor Alain Bombard, who in 1952 crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a rubber boat without food and fresh water supplies.

He worked at the port of Boulogne and once wondered why most of the victims of shipwrecks who find themselves at sea die in the first three days. They would have to die of hunger and thirst later. He studied the problems of survival in extreme situations, got acquainted with all the reports available to him about people rescued at sea or found dead. He came to the conclusion that most people could have survived if not for their desperation. Bombard wrote later: "Victims of legendary shipwrecks who died prematurely, I know: it wasn't the sea that killed you, it wasn't hunger that killed you, it wasn't thirst that killed you! Rocking on the waves to the plaintive cries of seagulls, you died of fear!".

To confirm his words with deeds, Bombar set sail on the rubber boat "Heretic". He ate plankton and raw fish, instead of water he drank the juice squeezed out of the fish. The first training voyage in the Mediterranean lasted two weeks, the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the island of Barbados – 65 days. During the voyage, he lost 25 kilograms, and his hemoglobin level dropped to critical. Alain Bombard described his journey in the book "Overboard of His Own Free Will". As a result of Bombard's voyage, French ships began to be equipped with life-saving rubber rafts, and he himself received letters from the survivors for the rest of his life with the words: "If not for your example, we would have died."

Suicide experimentsThe French doctor Nikolaus Minovici conducted experiments on self-suffocation, and then moved on to self-hanging experiments to describe the condition that occurs with asphyxia.

He threw a cord over a beam on the ceiling, at one end he made a loop into which he stuck his head. Then he lay down on the floor and pulled the free end of the cord with his right hand. His face was suffused with blood, then turned purple-blue, fiery circles floated before his eyes, there was a noise in his ears. Finally, he moved on to experiments on complete hanging: "As soon as my legs left the support, my eyelids convulsively contracted. The airways were blocked so tightly that I could not inhale or exhale. There was some kind of whistling in my ears, I no longer heard the voice of the assistant pulling the cord and marking the time on the stopwatch. In the end, the pain and lack of air forced me to stop the experience. When the experiment was over and I went downstairs, tears sprang from my eyes." The maximum hanging time was 26 seconds, after the experience of swallowing pain persisted for more than 10 days.

Medical equipmentGerman physician Werner Forsman was one of the creators of the method of cardiac catheterization.

While developing this operation, he tested it on himself in 1928. Colleagues believed that when a foreign object penetrates into the heart, shock and cardiac arrest will occur. Forsman, however, decided to experiment. He cut a vein at the elbow and inserted a narrow tube into it. For the first time, the tube did not reach the heart, because the assistant refused to continue the dangerous experiment. For the second time Forsman acted independently. He inserted a catheter 65 centimeters and reached the right half of the heart. After that, Forsman turned on the X-ray machine and received confirmation of his success. Forsman, together with American doctors Kornan and Richards, received the Nobel Prize in 1957 for the technique he developed.

Check it yourself first

Perhaps the Czech doctor Jan Purkinje (Purkinje), 1787-1868, can be called the champion of self–mockery for scientific purposes. An astute scientist and talented teacher, author of classical works on the physiology of vision, histology and embryology, one of the creators of fingerprinting, founder of Physiological Institutes in Wroclaw and Prague, as well as the first Czech medical journal, has made a significant number of experiments on himself. He started them as a student, researching the effects of drugs. "I was then experiencing the effects of laxatives: rhubarb, manna, various salts, Alexandrian leaf, yalapa roots; then I investigated some emetics. By self-observation, I have established a great difference between alcohol and ether." Then Purkin investigated the effects of opium, taking it in gradually increasing doses.He also experimented with other substances.

At that time, doctors were interested in the effect of camphor on the human body. Purkinet started taking this drug: "After taking a few grains of camphor, I came to a state of religious ecstasy... Another time, after taking ten grains of camphor, I felt an increase in muscle strength, so I had to lift my legs higher when walking. When the rounds of patients in the department were over, I suddenly felt a strong fever and fainted. They put me on the bed and I lay unconscious for another half hour. When I came to myself, I didn't feel any upset and went for a walk outside the city with one of my friends. After this experience, I was suspected of epilepsy and expressed the opinion that I was not able to work as a doctor."

Then he took calomel (mercury chloride), emetine (the active principle of ipecacuanha – emetic root), nutmeg, digitalis infusion, belladonna extract, a mixture of camphor with alcohol. Then Purkin became interested in how dangerous it is to drink salt water, and conducted an appropriate experiment. Another time, for scientific purposes, he ate only raw eggs for a week.

Experiments on yourself todayIt would seem that medical experiments on oneself are a thing of the past.

However, no: and now researchers are testing their hypotheses on themselves. For example, Australian scientists Robin Warren and Barry Marshall discovered the bacterium Helicobacter pylori on the mucous membrane of the human stomach. They suggested that it is she, and not stress or spicy food, that becomes the main cause of gastritis and stomach ulcers. To confirm this, Barry Marshall drank the contents of a Petri dish with a culture of these bacteria, which caused him to develop gastritis. In 2005, Warren and Marshall received the Nobel Prize for their work on Helicobacter pylori.

Portal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru26.02.2009

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