Benjamin Woolley presents the gripping story of Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century radical pharmacist who took on the establishment in order to bring medicine to the masses. Culpeper lived during one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. When the country was ravaged by famine and civil war, he took part in the revolution that culminated in the execution of King Charles I. But it is Culpeper's achievements in health care that made him famous. By practicing (often illegally) as a herbalist and publishing the first English-language texts explaining how to treat common ailments, he helped to break the monopoly of a medical establishment that had abandoned the poor and needy. His book The English Physician became the most successful non-religious English book of all time, remaining in print continuously for more than 350 years.
This time, we meet a man who feels no pain, a woman who can smell Parkinson's disease, a man who can remember every face he has ever seen and a survivor of a head injury who woke up to find he could suddenly play the piano. These remarkable cases are shedding new light on one of the most mysterious parts of the human body - our brain.
COVID-19 is far from the first pandemic to wreak havoc in the world. A long line of infectious diseases have devastated and in some cases destroyed entire societies. Almost all of them started in animals and made the jump to humans. We are terrified of pandemics. And with good reason. Infectious diseases have cost the lives of countless people over the centuries, devastating families, towns, and even societies. The Black Death spread across Europe and Asia in the 14th century leaving millions dead in its wake. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, European colonists brought smallpox to the Americas, the Pacific region and to Australia. In Europe, the 17th century saw a series of major epidemics. And at the end of the First World War, more people died of the Spanish flu than on the battlefield. This documentary examines the causes of these epidemics - whether it be lack of hygiene, interaction with animals, overcrowding, or the growth of cities - and how people travelling helped to spread disease and promote pandemics. It also sheds a light on the impact these infectious diseases have had on politics and societal change. Today, the world is facing COVID-19. Measures such as quarantine and lockdowns are being rolled out in an effort to control the spread of the virus; and, just as our ancestors did before us, some are questioning how effective they are. Over the centuries, scientists managed to develop treatments and medicines to help control or even eradicate infectious diseases. Virologists are facing that task again with the coronavirus, as the world frantically searches for ways to overcome a pandemic which threatens our modern way of life.
2020 • Health
A&E doctor Javid Abdelmoneim is on a mission to find out the truth about alcohol. In January, the government released its new alcohol guidelines. For men, the recommended weekly limit was cut by a third to 14 units per week, equivalent to about seven pints of beer, bringing it in line with the amount recommended for women. So what is behind the change? This is just one question of many that Javid aims to answer as he explores the science of drinking and the new evidence for the health risks of alcohol. Why do some people get drunk quicker than others? What is behind red wine's healthy reputation? Is a nightcap actually good for your sleep? Does lining your stomach work? And can alcohol actually make you eat more?
2016 • Health
Stem cells found in the bone marrow are crucial for our health because they are needed to become new blood cells that sustain and protect our bodies. But when the transformation goes wrong, harmful mutations can cause the cells to start replicating without control -- a type of cancer known as leukemia. Danilo Allegra and Dania Puggioni explain how this happens and how certain treatments provide hope for those suffering from the disease.
Presenter Michael Mosley finds out how the early days of surgery were dark and barbaric, when the surgeon’s knife was more likely to kill you than save you, and invasive medicine generally meant being bloodlet by leeches to within an inch of your life.