Cover image for The strange case of the walking corpse : a chronicle of medical mysteries, curious remedies, and bizarre but true healing folklore
The strange case of the walking corpse : a chronicle of medical mysteries, curious remedies, and bizarre but true healing folklore
Butcher, Nancy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Avery, [2004]

Physical Description:
200 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
R705 .B88 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Did you know that bananas can cure warts; chewing on raw ginger can relieve nausea; sniffing vanilla can help suppress your appetite; or that raw potato can soothe a burn?

Healing is full of curious remedies-some based on time-honored folklore, others straight from the medical journals. Nancy Butcher has gathered together some of the most unusual natural cures that have been proven effective today, and even throws in some unbelievable and-thankfully-abandoned therapies from times past.

Filled with case histories of unique illnesses, historic documentation of strange medical practices, and the author's own insightful commentary, this book explains not only how to cure headaches, sleep better, and improve your sex life, but also that people with Cotard's syndrome actually believe they are dead.

Author Notes

Nancy Butcher has written on health and wellness subjects for and other websites

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Butcher, whose previous books had the more wholesome topics of weight loss and sleeping (101 Ways to Stop Eating After Dinner; 101 Ways to Fall Asleep), here delves into the dark corners of medicine to unearth weird maladies and surprising cures. More a gathering of medical trivia than an actual chronicle, her book jumps from topic to topic, covering obscure ailments such as "cat-eye syndrome" (a rare chromosomal disorder) and "jumping Frenchmen of Maine" (an ill-understood neurological disorder), as well as more familiar diseases such as Black Plague, Hansen's disease (leprosy) and rabies. For each disease, Butcher offers a short synopsis of its discovery and attempted cures. In addition to uncommon ailments, the book outlines medicines that took a long time to be accepted by the medical establishment, or that remained on the fringes of acceptability. Some of these, such as urine or aged frog eggs, are best left to history. Others may have uses in the modern world: Butcher offers a table of herbs, for example, that alleviate various aches and pains. Subsequent chapters cover parasites, mental illnesses, sexual dysfunctions, sleep-related maladies and strange beauty treatments (some Victorian women owed their milk-pale complexions to a careful ration of arsenic). Butcher's anecdotes read like a collection of personal notes without an overarching theme, and are thus best for browsing; the book contains enough bizarre, disgusting and amusing medical minutiae to keep readers turning pages. B&w illustrations. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Butcher, the author of numerous books for children and adults, returns to her childhood fascination with all things medical, drawing on case literature, web sites, folklore, and medical texts. While other authors tend to focus on physical abnormalities, Butcher covers these and other aspects of medicine: treatment regimens and folk remedies, mental illnesses, hospital tales, sleep and sexual disorders, and the extreme quest for beauty. Organized into thematic chapters (most of which are prefaced with short historical background), the descriptions are often brief-an advantage for the casual reader, who may wish to browse sections simply for morbid or interesting highlights. Many entries are truly exotic (e.g., formicophilia, arousal from insects crawling on genitals), while some are now so well known that they detract from the novelty of the others (e.g., Ebola, leprosy, and insulin therapy). More than half of Butcher's sources stem from the Internet, and although most refer to educational or association sites, a few of the more outlandish ones are a bit suspect. Jan Bondeson, in comparison, contributes more academic research on physical abnormalities in such books as A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities and The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels. Butcher's is a work of more breadth if less depth and is a useful addition to public libraries.-Andy Wickens, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Lure of the Strange and Morbidp. 1
1. Uncommon Diseases and Disordersp. 9
2. Uncommon Treatmentsp. 40
3. Parasites and Other Unwelcome Guestsp. 76
4. Unusual Mental Illnessesp. 97
5. Sexual Maladiesp. 118
6. Sleep Dysfunctionsp. 137
7. Hospital Storiesp. 148
8. Beauty Rp. 156
9. What Medicine Holds for Your Futurep. 170
Bibliographyp. 181
Indexp. 195