AMA Journal of Ethics

Formerly Virtual Mentor

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics

Formerly Virtual Mentor

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. October 1999, Volume 1, Number 2.

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Witchcraft, Folkloric Remedies and the Paranormal

Medical trivia of the supernatural, paranormal and otherwise ghoulish.

  • Searching MEDLINE using "supernatural" terms and keywords yields the following:
    Werewolf — 20 citations
    X files — 260 citations
    Trick or Treat — 74 citations
    Ghost — 1634 citations
  • The Transylvania Journal of Medicine (1828-1839) was published by the Medical Department of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. The university still exists, but the medical school closed in 1860.
  • Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center investigates apparent paranormal phenomena.
  • Human sacrifice was widespread as a gift to the gods among the Aztecs in the mid-15th century. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people were sacrificed each year.
  • Witchcraft medicine uses a variety of plants to treat various afflictions. For example: Leaves from Thuja occidentalis are burned on coals to purify patients and exorcise evil spirits; Phytolacca americana is used by the Iroquois as an expectorant, emetic, cathartic, and for bewitchment; Smashed Linaria vulgaris plants when taken induces vomiting that can remove bewitching; and Sarracenia purpurea is used by sorcerers—exact use is unspecified.
  • October 31 is the birthday of:
    John Keats, British lyric poet and physician, who died of tuberculosis at age 25; and
    Marian Chace who founded and championed dance/movement therapy as a profession based on body-mind relationships.
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