The Tapeworm Diet

Hypochondria, part one

It's hard not to be a hypochondriac when considering how little we know about our bodies. In the middle ages--a thousand year period devoid of scientific progress, thanks to Catholicism--the prevailing theory in medicine was that of the four humors; blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. The idea was that illness occurred when the humors where out of balance, hence the practice of bloodletting. A more modern medical anomaly, according to the ad at right which circulated around our offices this summer, is the use of the tapeworm as a diet aid between 1900 and 1920. It sounds like a hoax, but its status is actually undetermined. If it is real, it's shocking, yet not surprising. After all, we do inject botulism into our faces, blast ourselves with radiation, remove organs we deem useless and eat what basically amounts to plastic. If we can be convinced that we are sick due to an imbalance of "phlegm," it's not unlikely that some ladies might eat a tapeworm to get thin. Now that's grosser than lutefisk.