A lot of plant toxins are geared towards insects. Not only do insects vastly outnumber mammalian herbivores, but insects also damage plants at a slow-enough pace that a poisonous plant has a good chance of out-living its predator with minimal damage. Thus, the faster-acting the poison, the fewer bites an herbivorous insect can deliver. (If you're a plant trying to fend off a moose, poison doesn't do you as much good, because the moose is so big that by the time your poison kills it, the moose has already destroyed you and 15-20 minutes worth of your neighbors. Thorns and armor are going to help you a little more with the big herbivores.) Since insects and mammals share a common (nerve- and muscle-endowed) evolutionary ancestor, there's a fair number of chemicals that can disrupt systems in both groups. 10 of the World's Deadliest Plants — And How They Kill You
But big pharma is hiding the really good ones! Seriously, so many good stories. Anegrelide was developed as a blood pressure medicine but caused low platelets...hey, a treatment for essential thrombocytosis, a disease where the body makes too many platelets! Diazepam (Valium) was developed as a food dye. Diazo compounds are frequently colorful. People got sleepy after eating it though. 10 Happy Accidents from the Annals of Drug Discovery
Powdered Mummy, Gladiator Blood, and other Historical Medicines Made from Human Corpses An Adam's apple a day keeps the doctor away? History is full of bizarre medical remedies, but few are as gruesome as the field of corpse medicine. Many doctors, from ancient times to modern, prescribed concoctions made of human organs, salves of human fat, and the ground-up remains of embalmed corpses to treat a host of ailments and promote good health. Put aside your lunch and read all about the various cannibalistic cures sent down the throats or slathered over the skin of the sick and dying. Modern medicine uses corpse tissue to aid the living; in addition to organ transplants from brain dead donors, cadaver skin is used a stopgap for burn victims before they can receive grafts of their own skin and cadaver bone can be used in grafts as well.
Funny you should talk about anesthetics and biting things. The other night Mr. Ivriniel was having a bit of an allergic reaction, and I gave him a Benadryl liquid gel (North American formulation. It's different in the UK.). Shortly there after this conversation occurred: Mr. Bite Down on a Stick: The History of Anesthesia
See, though, my severe dust, mold and dust mite allergies didn't start until college, getting progressively worse as I got older, and my mild grass allergy until I was an adult. I grew up in the country, surrounded by muck and nature and goo, we used to play in a hay loft for crissakes, and always had minor seasonal "hay fever," but nothing more serious. Now, I have to wear a dust mask to clean, spend most of my life dealing with moderate sinusitis and get all itchy and snuffly if I'm sit on the grass for more than an hour. It sucks, but I'm glad it didn't develop until later, that would have ruined my childhood. Explaining why all of this stuff developed later when I had near-constant exposure to dust, grass and mold as a kid. Now, I get shots every other week, am on at least 3 daily allergy medications, with 2 other swapped in as needed, use a neti pot daily and do several courses of steroids a year to deal with sinus inflammation. Are allergies for real?
Thanks for a very interesting & enlightening read. My research on PTSD has mostly centered around the present and the future: what do we know, and what can we do? I had wondered idly about historic precedents but, other than shell shock, hadn't gone too far with it. I was particularly struck by the array of data from non-military sources. Today, we are beginning to recognize and explore the physiological effects of trauma; it is most certainly not "all in your head," although it might be restated, "it's all in your brain." From "Irritable Heart" to "Shellshock": How Post-Traumatic Stress Became a Disease
How do smelling salts work?
I worked for a company that relied heavily on the Predictive Index test when hiring—so heavily that I wouldn't have gotten my job if it had been in place when I applied, because I didn't score as a technical person, a project manager, or a people manager. In fact, I basically tested as a lunatic, but that's neither here nor there. I was a very promising, creative lunatic. Don't judge. However, they did turn people away because their scores didn't statistically align with the scores of people who were network engineers, or salespeople, or whatever. The Many Ways Science Has (Wrongly) Assessed Your Personality