According to one study, during just the past 200 years, there have been 465 cases of self-experimentation documented in the medical literature, with eight recorded deaths. Most instances occurred in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. Here are seven notable instances of medical self-experimentation. The pellagra ‘filth parties’ Dr. Joseph Goldberger was an epidemiologist and quarantine physician in the U.S. Public Health Service. As such, it was his responsibility to figure out the causes of diseases. In 1906, the first large outbreak of pellagra occurred in the United States. Pellagra is a disease marked by dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis (the three Ds). At the time, scientists thought that pellagra was infectious. To test this hypothesis, Goldberger and colleagues took part in “filth parties,” where they ingested the skin, urine, and feces of patients with pellagra. (For what it’s worth, they made capsules of this human waste.) They also rubbed themselves with the nasal and oral secretions of those with pellagra. In other experiments, Goldberger supplemented the diets of children at an orphanage with eggs, meat, milk, oatmeal, and beans, which caused incidents of pellagra to stop. Moreover, he found that placing prisoners on a low-protein—but… Read full this story
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