Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine-logo

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine


Join Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy for a tour of all the dumb, bad, gross, weird and wrong ways we've tried to fix people.

Join Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy for a tour of all the dumb, bad, gross, weird and wrong ways we've tried to fix people.


Huntington, WV


Join Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy for a tour of all the dumb, bad, gross, weird and wrong ways we've tried to fix people.






The Brompton Cocktail

In the late 1800s, Dr. Herbert Snow observed cancer patients and considered that a mix of different medications might do the trick for slowing down its progress. The Brompton Cocktail, as it was called, was mostly cocaine and morphine. Though used for a long time for pain relief, the cocktail proved to have its problems – but maybe not for the reason you would think. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Hand Sanitizer

Around the early 1900s, it was discovered that a high percent of ethanol was useful for killing germs, and worked great if there was no available soap and water. Dr. Sydnee and Justin go through viral internet stories and odd patents to explain how we eventually landed on the hand sanitizer we know and love today. Hey, if you can, though, wash your hands. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Answering Your Questions About the Roe Verdict

The overturning of Roe has created an astounding number of questions and problems, and the fact is that we don’t know for sure how the landscape will change in the next few years or even months. This week, Dr. Sydnee uses the best available information to answer listener questions about what the Roe decision means for those seeking medical care related to pregnancy, including the morning after pill, vasectomies as contraception, and ectopic pregnancies. Addendum: There is a prescription...


Radium Girls

Back in 1917 radium was all the rage. The fact that it glowed made people believe it was healthy and important, so they included it in things like toothpaste, cosmetics, even water. The Radium Girls, factory workers who used radium-laced paints to detail watch faces, were among the first to indicate that it may not be as safe as we imagined. Charlie McElroy is here to tell us about their fight for workplace safety. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers



What’s the deal with vomiting? Justin and Dr. Sydnee meditate on the various ways we get nauseated, from smelling something gross to getting hit in a sensitive spot, and what we’ve done over the years to help alleviate it. Although sometimes kids just vomit for no reason and we can’t really help you there. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Is it Safe to Eat This Plutonium?

We’re back with Sawbones Medical Questions! Justin acts as stand-in for the listeners while Dr. Sydnee answers questions about tall people getting COVID, eye goop, nose goop, labor organizing in the medical field, and corn in poop. This one’s for the Sawboners. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers



You may be worried we’re headed into another global health crisis in the form of Monkeypox. But it’s not new, and we already know quite a bit about it. Dr. Sydnee explains what it is, how to treat it, and the recommendations at the moment from the CDC, all compared to COVID (which is now unfortunately our standard for how to relate to potential public health threats). Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


History of Abortion

With the recent news about Roe v. Wade, it’s important to talk about the history of abortion in the United States. The right to autonomy over one’s own body in regard to medical care is one of the basic tenets of medical ethics; but no matter what anyone personally believes, banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Infant Formula

The United States is currently in a dire formula shortage, and people are taking to the internet to propose some less than ideal solutions. Dr. Sydnee talks about the origins of how formula came about, how the shortage came about, and why people on the internet are wrong. And just in case you miss the message: do NOT try to make your own formula. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Harry Beno: The Poison King

Harry Beno (not BEAN-o) one day walked into a barn hungry for biscuits and emerged the poison king. Believing himself immune to strychnine, Beno took to eating poison for an audience. From there his act escalated to the next logical step, hammering nails into his head and burying himself alive. Justin and Dr. Sydnee tell the story of “Beno the Wonder” who confused doctors but couldn’t escape the ultimate Sawbones lesson: don’t drill a hole in your head. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers...


Testicle Tanning

Some people believe that men in the world are getting softer and masculinity is under attack. But not to worry, there’s a solution: tanning your . . . nethers. Although the idea of exposing your soft bits to the sun may be embarrassing, there's also, as Dr. Sydnee explains, zero evidence that it's beneficial. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers



Remember when the Cheerios box said it would lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease? Well, it doesn’t say that anymore because cereal isn’t medicine. But this is just one example in a long history of breakfast cereals claiming to be beneficial to health. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


The World of Warcraft Plague and COVID

A very long time ago, in 2019, we talked about the Corrupted Blood plague, a pandemic within the World of Warcraft. How it affected the digital world was used as a model for how people might behave during an actual real-life pandemic. Well . . . we’ve got that real-life pandemic now. So how did it actually play out (and is still playing out) versus how it went in-game? Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Bach's Flower Remedies

In the mid-20th century, Dr. Edward Bach developed a series of diluted tinctures from ingredients of the natural world to combat negative emotions, and by extension, disease. Bach supplied that these remedies were different for everyone, depending on mood. And to find out what you need? Just take an online quiz! Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Food Dye and Behavior

Do artificially colored food dyes make your kids behave badly? This sounds like it could be true, and is certainly alluring to parents as an easy fix. But are they actually related? In the 1940s, Dr. Benjamin Feingold was set to research just that, believing that food dye not only could cause bad behavior, but was linked to asthma, eczema, and hives. But the solution to how to solve any of these problems is a bit extreme – too extreme to be practical or even show any real results. Music:...


Spring Medical Questions Are in the Air

It’s time to do a little bit of inbox spring cleaning with all these listener medical questions! Justin reads and Dr. Sydnee answers medical questions about things like healing hickeys, eating all of the meat, tongue-based diagnostics, and tasting with your feet. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Star Jelly

Have you ever gone outside and found gelatinous goop on the ground? It’s jelly from the stars! But actually . . . what is it? As far back as the 14th century, people have noticed mucilaginous goo that has been associated with both the medicinal and the magical. Dr. Sydnee talks about the many instances of “star jelly” throughout history, what it could possibly be, and the effect it has on people – sometimes harmful, but mostly benign. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers...


Update: Havana Syndrome

Havana Syndrome has been in the news lately, so we've brought an update. The CIA has continued to look into people experiencing the symptoms of this strange illness and have found . . . there is some sort of cause after all? So enjoy the full episode explaining the history of Havana Syndrome, and what we've learned in recent weeks. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Dr. Charles Drew and Blood Donations

In a Sawbones rarity, we’re talking about someone who contributed positively to the medical field. Very positively. Dr. Charles Drew, the first Black person to get a doctorate from Columbia University was also the person to discover a better method for preserving blood for use in transfusions. And we’re glad he did, because did you know there’s a national blood shortage? For information on the blood shortage and how to donate blood:...


Now That’s What I Call Weird Medical Questions

What question would you ask a doctor if you were sitting next to them? That’s what the goal is today on Sawbones, where “we”, mostly Sydnee, answer listeners’ most pressing weird medical questions. Questions about cool things like ear gauges, absinthe, the strength of car doors, self-advocacy, hydration, and the hole that is your belly button. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers