'Quackery' Chronicles How Our Love Of Miracle Cures Leads Us Astray

An ad selling cocaine drops for tooth pain, from the book Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching for ways to make ourselves feel better fast. Unfortunately, history has shown that many of those ways — cannibalism, cocaine tooth drops, ingesting heavy metals — left us sick, broke, or both. Yet we keep looking for that fast cure. Dr. Lydia Kang , an author and a primary care physician in Omaha, Neb., is the co-author of Quackery: A Brief History Of The Worst Ways To Cure Everything , which publishes Oct. 17. She talked to us recently about her new book, the gross things people have done through the centuries in search of health, and what it means for modern medicine. As a culture, we are always looking for a quick fix, especially for our health. "We are so used to getting things immediately, it’s hard to be patient and wait," says Kang. Quackery "We’re always trying so hard as people to just feel better. We want normal, we want function. When something goes a little off, we are really, really eager to get back." That may have especially been true before physicians truly understood physiology. And […]

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