King of the colons…..

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. I have been finishing off my new book on Irish eccentrics which will be out sometime in September.

On the subject of eccentrics, I would like to point you in the direction of a Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (1856 – 1943)

There have been many medical fads throughout the years, but without doubt one of the silliest was one man`s obsession with removing people`s colons. The man responsible was the extraordinarily bad tempered Scots-Irish surgeon, Sir William Butler Lane. This king of the colons was the resident surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in London.
Lane had a number of eccentric theories on how to treat the colon. One of which suggested a daily enema using a pint of cream and to always sleep on your back. His wacky research also came to the conclusion that red haired , particularly Irish, women were naturally immune to constipation.
His obsession with the colon reached its peak in 1903. He had written an article in which he suggested that the colon was surplus to the requirements of the human body. It was merely a useless tube of tissue and muscle full of foul smells. Lane had found his mission in life – to rid the world of colons. He also argued that the humble colon was responsible for the incubation of a whole range of diseases including cancer and tuberculosis.
No colon was safe from Lane, even patients who came to see him for minor ailments would have their colon removed.
His one-man rectal campaign came to a halt after a few years when fellow doctors, finally taking notice that none of Lane’s patients ever really benefited from their loss, took a more studied look at his theory and began to detect a strong whiff of bullshit. You will no doubt be unsurprised to hear that Lane lived out the rest of his life in an asylum, where he died discredited aged 86.

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