Tobacco Smoke Enema Kit (1750s – 1810s).
L0057782 Resuscitation set, Europe, 1801-1850
Credit: Science Museum, London. Wellcome Images
The idea of reviving a victim of drowning by injecting tobacco smoke into the rectum or the lungs seems very strange to us. To some physicians working two hundred years ago, however, this approach was entirely rational. The resuscitation set contains the equipment necessary to inject into the lungs, stomach or rectum. The bellows could be adapted to inflate the lungs with fresh air or to introduce more stimulating vapours such as tobacco in an attempt to revive the patient. The set includes a small ivory syringe with a flexible leather tube to inject stimulants into the stomach. It also contains nozzles, small circular discs for the nostrils and, for the rectum, the long ivory tubes at the front of the set.
maker: Unknown maker
Place made: Europe
made: 1801-1850 Published: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
The tobacco enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient’s rectum for various medical purposes, but primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims.
A rectal tube inserted into the anus was connected to a fumigator and bellows that forced the smoke into the rectum. The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration.
Doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas led to the popular phrase “Blowing Smoke Up Your Ass.”
As you are most likely aware, this odd tool is still heavily used by all levels of government today.
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