Researchers Who Conducted Wild Experiments on Themselves

Self-experimentation for a scientific purpose has been practiced for centuries. This has proven to be quite beneficial to the world of medicine and have revealed surprising insights into various branches of medicine. Though these researchers may sound like mad scientists who take risks with their lives, their contributions and sacrifices cannot be negated. Let’s take a look at five researchers who conducted wild experiments on themselves.

1. Allan Blair

Allan Walker Blair was a professor at the medical school at the University of Alabama in 1933. At the time, there was little information on Black Widow spiders and their bite. He allowed a black widow spider to bite him in order to study how harmful its venom is to people. This experiment landed him in the hospital for two days with excruciating pain and a wound. The experiment convinced many who were doubtful about the potential risk of the black widow’s venom to humans. Blair spent hours documenting his experience. 

2. Giovanni Battista Grassi

Giovanni Grassi was a physician and zoologist who showed much interest in parasitology. He was a risk taker who would do almost anything to learn how roundworms were transmitted between hosts. He consumed live roundworm eggs that had been directly extracted from a deceased person who had a well-documented severe roundworm infection. Based on his symptoms and observations after twenty-two days of ingesting these parasites, Grassi had concrete evidence that roundworm infections in new hosts arise as a result of exposure to an infected source. By being his own lab rat, he was able to show the roundworm life cycle.

3. Tim Friede

It is common that people avoid being bitten by snakes particularly by venomous snakes. Well, scientist Tim Friede liked living on the edge by conducting self-experiments that could possibly cut his life short. Throughout his long research career, he had been bitten 160 times by snakes. This was done deliberately in an effort to prove that self immunization against snake bites was possible. He had the hope that this would lead to the development of vaccines against snake bites, given that antivenin isn’t always available. In one of his self-tests, he was bitten by a black mamba and a taipan, and he managed to survive. Few people would survive this. When he was bitten by two cobras, he flatlined but was spared by medical intervention.

4. Frederick Hoelzel

Frederick Hoelzel was a German American physiologist who conducted a study on fasting and is most known for swallowing indigestible materials. Hoelzel tried to lose weight without becoming hungry. To accomplish this he swallowed glass beads, rubber, steel balls, surgical cotton, twine, wire, coal powder, gravel, rubber, and other inert materials. He even ate asbestos which was in abundance at that time. Well he lost weight but was still hungry. Through his experiments, it was also his intention to identify the time taken for foreign objects to pass through the digestive tract.

5. Max von Pettenkofer

Max von Pettenkofer was a chemist and hygienist in Germany. He believed that the cholera germ detected by Robert Koch needed a particular environment to spread. On October 7, 1892, he asked for and ingested a vial of cholera-infected water to demonstrate that numerous health conditions, rather than merely exposure, were to blame for infectious disease in people. Modern medical knowledge has proven Pettenkofer’s theories to be false, yet for a while, his theories had some sway because he did not become fatally ill from cholera. 

Recent Posts

Get AnyTrivia in your inbox.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.