Adventures in self experimentation

Gareth J Parry, Eric J Buenz
2018 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
Self experimentation is a rich medical tradition, leading to remarkable scientific advances but also erroneous conclusions and, sometimes, death. Recently we explored the properties of Urtica ferox, a stinging nettle endemic to New Zealand (fig 1) . During a collection expedition a 71 year old emeritus neurologist indulged in inadvertent, and subsequently deliberate, self experimentation. His notes of the evolving neurological manifestations after exposure provide clues to the toxin's mechanism
more » ... e toxin's mechanism of action that would be difficult to draw without self experimentation (see box 1 for notes). Box 1: The emeritus professor's notes after exposure to the neurotoxic stinging nettle Immediate, moderately severe, burning pain at the site of penetration spread over 5-10 seconds to involve an area 1 cm in diameter. The pain began to subside within five minutes and had resolved within 60 minutes. As the pain subsided paraesthesias appeared that were intense and annoying but not truly painful, and allodynia was noted in the affected area.
doi:10.1136/bmj.k5006 fatcat:4oaijx2mlvbs7mwyoj3s4nezqm