In this episode we explore how central the lungs were to Ancient Greek and Roman ideas about medicine and the body. Renaissance illustrations of the lungs were detailed and beautiful – but understanding of exactly what the lungs did and how they worked was still to be developed. We also discuss the historical treatment of asthma with ‘medicinal’ cigarettes, along with other supposed uses of tobacco to protect from the plague and as an antidote to poisoning.

We also explore some of the most unusual lung-based medicines, including breast milk, sugar candy and liquorice!


Historical clip credit: Defeat tuberculosis. Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)