Tomatoes as Medicine
Tomatoes, once believed by Americans to be poisonous, became an unquestioned staple of a healthy diet thanks to doctors and popular cookbooks.
The Bitter Truth About Bitters
A bottle of bitters from about 1918 had significant amounts of alcohol and lead—and not a trace of the supposed active ingredient.
Plant of the Month: Sarsaparilla
From an early modern treatment for syphilis to Saturday-morning cartoons, the meaning and significance of the plant has transformed through time and space.
Plant of the Month: Dittany
Did women in the premodern world have much agency over reproduction? Their use of plants like dittany suggests that they did.
The Chemist Whose Work Was Stolen from Her
The Black scientist Alice Ball helped develop a treatment for leprosy in the early twentieth century. But someone else took the credit.
How the Ban on Medical Advertising Hurt Women Doctors
Intended to protect consumers from unscrupulous quackery, a nineteenth-century ban on medical advertising proved to be a double-edged sword.
The Souls of Magnets
Lodestones are dull, lumpy, and slate-gray, but their “magnetic intelligence” made them fabulously expensive.
The Art of Digital Addiction
Digital addiction is inspiring plays, books, films, and art -- just as other forms of addiction have in the past.
Why Did the Victorians Harbor Warm Feelings for Leeches?
Medical authorities wrote about leeches as if they sucked blood out of the goodness of their hearts.
The 4 Questions to Ask before You Unplug
If you're concerned about the internet's effects on the world and on yourself, unplugging might not be the answer.