Monday, January 2, 2012

In which I blow smoke up your ass...

In recent research for a book I was working on...

I discovered the tobacco smoke enema.

Apparently popular in the late 1700's and early 1800's, it kinda was exactly what it sounds like.

Y'see, back in the day there was actually a foundation, a group if you will, who was dedicated to the reanimation of dead bodies (or resuscitation depending on your word choice) and they actually went so far as to pay gold coin if you were able to bring them a body that had JUST died so that they could try out their experiments.

So after awhile of people drowning other people in an attempt to get the money, they changed it to, 'You get a useless medal, you murdering, greedy bastards.'

(Not in those words. But you get the gist of it.)

Anyway, they discovered quite a few clever ways to reanimate 'dead' bodies. (Remember, this was in the era of bell ringing. If you don't know what that is, well, lemme tell you. Sometimes the people they buried WEREN'T dead yet. So they attached a bell above the graves of the newly dead and attached a string that was put in the hand of the 'corpse.' They started doing this when, upon pulling up some caskets, they realized that some had claw marks where the very NOT dead inhabitants had attempted to CLAW their way out. So, bells. And someone would hang out and wait to hear if bells rang... and then dig them back up.)

One of the ways they tried (and don't get me wrong, not ALL of their ideas sucked. They figured out, or claimed to, mouth to mouth respiration. Important stuff, that.) was the tobacco enema.

The idea behind it was that tobacco was being commonly used for medicine at the time. Smoking tobacco could 'cure' a range of ailments from the common cold, cough, and even drowsiness. (Probably it helped with the cough because soon after, patients would probably DIE, therefore not need more care but what do I know?) So...

The North American Indians decided to shove it up someones tooshie.

Probably they were annoyed by that whole getting kicked out of their homes thing and thought it would be funny to shove tobacco up someones ass... I dunno. But they came up with it.

So putting tobacco, mixed with water, into the anus became a popular cure for things like stomach pain or if you had just drowned... SQUIIIIRT!!

I think, if I was near death, that would probably be a good way to reanimate me pretty quick.

They stopped using it in the early 1900's when they realized... um... Tobacco is sort of poisonous.


But for a long time, they did this. Because it was warming and stimulating...

And disturbing.

And it was also a great way to 'clear' the lower 'passage.'

Read: make them poop.

In 1780's, the Royal Humane Society (AKA the people paying to get newly dead bodies) installed multiple resuscitation kits along the Thames (including the handy dandy kit for making a smoke enema) after in 1746, a recently drowned woman was 'saved.' When she 'drowned,' a passing sailor advised the husband to take the stem of his pipe, insert it into his wife's rectum and 'blow hard.'

Miracle!! She woke up.


The method was never really suggested for use by the elderly. It was thought that it 'dried' you out and the elderly were dried out enough already.

About a century later we came up with the phrase, "To blow smoke up ones ass."

Which it turns out you can DO!! I don't think you should. But you can.

Okay, enough history for one day.

Thanks to Wikipedia, The Royal Humane Society and all the other sources (that I would cite but I don't remember right now...) that helped me learn more about this... fascinating topic.


  1. Oh! My! God! That is hilarious! The amazing things people did "back in the day". LOL

  2. Glad you liked it. I was laughing so hard when I was researching it... LOL

  3. Wow! My day hasn't been a total waste as I learned something new and blew milk out my nose. Thanks for the history lesson.

  4. Yes!! Making someone snort milk actually makes my day. Thank you!!!