Show cover of Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

Join Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy for a tour of all the dumb, bad, gross, weird and wrong ways we've tried to fix people.


Update: Blood Donation
Recently, the FDA has updated their guidelines on who can donate blood and when – an update that has long been demanded. So we bring the full episode about Dr. Charles Drew and the history of blood donation, along with the new guidelines and why these changes were finally made.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
46:17 30/05/2023
Sawbones: King Tutankhamun
Live from Columbus, Ohio, home of the first Wendy's, and also COSI, the Center of Science and Industry! Justin and Dr. Sydnee bring forward one of the world's oldest medical mysteries: what happened to King Tut?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
32:29 23/05/2023
Sawbones: Hepatitis C
The third Hepatitis to be discovered, appropriately named Hepatitis C, is an infection that primarily affects the liver, but often has non-specific symptoms. Dr. Sydnee and Justin trace the strange history of this virus, how it spreads, and why testing for it is more important than ever.  Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
39:53 16/05/2023
Sawbones: Marvel Anatomy: Infinity War
Justin takes the wheel as he once again brings out the official Marvel Anatomy book to discuss the science of comic book superpowers. He and Dr. Sydnee discuss the feasibility of abilities in characters like Daredevil, The Invisible Woman, Captain America, Spider Woman, and The Lizard. Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
39:28 09/05/2023
Sawbones: Gender-Affirming Care for Minors
Recently a number of states have passed restrictions for gender-affirming care for those under 18, but shouldn't it be medical professionals, not states, whose expertise should be considered? Dr. Sydnee goes through what this medical treatment really is and the history of how we developed it, how it works, and the research that shows that yes, it does work to help save lives.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
44:55 02/05/2023
Sawbones: Going Grey
Why do people start losing the pigment in their hair as they grow older? Well, it might be one of those things that we don't entirely understand, though there are some new studies that offer some ideas. But that didn't stop people throughout history from trying to find ways to keep their hair from turning grey. Of course, Justin doesn't need any of these methods because he has surprisingly little grey hair for someone his age. As he points out. Repeatedly.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
37:02 25/04/2023
Sawbones: The Abortion Pill
Mifepristone, known colloquially as the abortion pill, has recently been in the news as its future availability in the United States comes into question. Dr. Sydnee and Justin go through the history of the medicine, from how it was discovered to how it was approved to what happened over the summer to change that.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
44:10 18/04/2023
Sawbones: Nose Blowing
Blowing your nose is maybe the only small glint of satisfaction had while having a cold or sinus infection. But is blowing your nose actually good, or even safe? Dr. Sydnee and Justin look through the history of handkerchiefs and nose-wiping to the science of what happens to your sinuses when you blow your nose in order to try and find a happy medium.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
40:59 04/04/2023
Sawbones: The Great Stink of 1858
The Great Stink of 1858 has highlights from some of the Sawbones Greatest Hits: the controversy of hand washing, the miasma theory of disease. and cholera. Which is all to say: it took humanity a long time to figure out that we shouldn't be drinking poop.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
40:12 28/03/2023
2023 BoCo Teaser - Sawbones: Medical Questions for Kids
We wanted to share a little teaser of our MaxFunDrive Bonus Content, so here's a short clip of Dr. Sydnee and Charlie addressing kid medical questions. If you want to hear the whole thing, head over to to get access to this, plus the bonus content from MaxFunDrives past.
03:49 24/03/2023
Sawbones: Marvel Anatomy
Dr. Sydnee and Justin go through the marvelous Marvel Anatomy book, which explains how many comic book heroes' superpowers work. Where does the Hulk's strength come from? How does Spider-Man climb walls? How does Captain Marvel shoot energy out of her hands? And is any of it anatomically or medically plausible at all?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
34:12 21/03/2023
Sawbones: Head Lice
Lice aren’t just a longtime annoyance of school aged kids, they’ve actually been around longer than people. Dr. Sydnee and Justin talk about the history of trying to get rid of these creatures as well as some common misconceptions. Be warned: your head will be itchy during this episode.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
41:17 07/03/2023
Sawbones: Is Leg-Length Discrepancy Genetic?
It's another Sawbones: Medical Questions, and we're gonna go full Galaxy Brain on these listener-submitted queries. What is methalated B-12? Can my appendix grow back and give me appendicitis ad infinitum? Does sugar help tongue burns or is it just tasty? And most importantly, how do I tell my friend to stop listening to TikTok for medical advice?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
45:32 28/02/2023
Sawbones: Appendicitis
People have been dying of the inflammation of the appendix long before anyone even knew what this little finger-like organ was good for. Dr. Sydnee goes through the history of the first accidental appendix removal, to the long journey to figuring the true cause of abdominal distress. And most importantly: What's the one place where you MUST have your appendix removed before visiting?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
37:38 14/02/2023
Sawbones: Ketchup
There are lots of things that aren’t medicine. Taxes. Pound cake. One thing that is definitely not a medicine but at a time was thought as one? Ketchup! Dr. Sydnee goes through ketchup’s journey from a fermented non-tomato condiment to the condiment we know and love, including its brief stint as Dr. Miles’ Extract of Tomato.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
34:34 07/02/2023
Sawbones: Grapefruits
Dr. Sydnee and Justin don't actually like grapefruits, so it's irrelevant to them, but grapefruit juice is known to interact poorly with many medications. Given the wide variety of fruits and their juices, it seems strange this is such an outlier. How was this anomaly discovered, and why exactly does it do what it does?Atlas Obscura article, "Grapefruit is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet" by Dan Nosowitz: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers 
41:33 31/01/2023
Sawbones: Mononucleosis
Have you ever been interrupted on a college campus by someone asking about your latest incident of intimate kissing? That's because they were trying to track the spread of a common infection called mononucleosis, or mono. Dr. Sydnee goes over the history of how the virus that caused mono was tracked down, and how it's tested for now.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
37:12 24/01/2023
Sawbones: Asafoetida
If you're like Dr. Sydnee and your TikTok algorithm keeps advertising medical substances at you, perhaps you've heard of asafoetida. It's a pungent resin derived from a plant, and has culinary appeal as well as reportedly some medical benefits. But what, if any, research and evidence do we have about these medicinal claims? And most importantly, what does it really smell like? We need to know, for science.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
37:18 17/01/2023
Sawbones: Anthrax
In 2001, the United States was under a biological attack from strange spores in mailed envelopes. This is a lot of people's first introduction to anthrax, a bacteria often associated with both domestic and wild animals. But what is anthrax, how is it spread, and where did it come from? To clarify, this episode is about the disease, not the metal band.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
35:40 10/01/2023
Sawbones: Super Sawbones Quiz of 2022
The Sawbones Medical Quiz is back and better than ever, with questions about this past year's episodes! What have you learned about bad fast food, Senate contenders, pirate medicine, and owls?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
37:32 03/01/2023
Sawbones: Can I Become the Alpha Period-Haver?
It's the last episode of the year, so Dr. Sydnee and Justin set out to answer your important medical questions! How do oral probiotics prevent a yeast infection (or do they)? What's that medicine and Sprite combo you drink before a CT scan? Should I talk to the students who practice appointments on me? And does everyone rub their limbs together like a cricket before bed, or is it just Justin?Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
35:22 20/12/2022
Sawbones: RSV
Parts of the US are currently in the midst of a triple-demic, a very scary phrase, so Dr. Sydnee is here to break down the third illness: Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. It’s a virus that’s common among everyone, but can be dangerous for some people. Dr. Sydnee and Justin talk about what it is, why it is suddenly prevalent in adults, and what can be done to help prevent the spread (hint: wear a mask).Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
38:11 13/12/2022
Sawbones: Farts
This week, Justin takes the wheel and finally gets to talk about farts, only tangentially in a medical way. Get ready for some fart etymology, some notable farts in medieval history, fun fart facts, and a little bit about preventing and treating excessive gas and flatulence.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers  
40:34 06/12/2022
Sawbones: Pirate Medicine Chapter Three
In the third and final chapter of the pirate medicine series, Dr. Sydnee and Justin talk about the dreaded Flux. What is the Flux? Well, it involves something coming out of your body in excess . . . and it's not urine.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
35:01 29/11/2022
Sawbones: Pirate Medicine Chapter Two
In the second entry in the pirate medicine series, Dr. Sydnee talks about the practice of treating burns aboard a ship. It seems like burns on a ship would not be a problem, but ships are made of wood, and fire + wood = bad.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
30:26 22/11/2022
Sawbones: Pirate Medicine Chapter One
To celebrate the first new live Sawbones shows since 2020, we're releasing the first in a three-part series exploring the vast array that pirates—in an extremely resource and knowledge-limited setting—tried to keep one another alive through the years.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
32:08 16/11/2022
Sawbones: Does Shrimp Make My Husband Drunk?
Have you ever wanted to ask a real doctor questions that aren’t really advice? Dr. Sydnee answers listener questions about infecting yourself with a virus, refusing opioids, and difficult veins. And don’t worry - there are some poop questions as well.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
45:49 08/11/2022
Sawbones: Anthroposophy
Why not just connect the spiritual and scientific world? That's basically what anthroposophy asks, teaching a philosophical approach to medicine. Dr. Sydnee and Justin talk about the history of this movement and also try to explain what exactly it is.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
40:44 25/10/2022
Sawbones: Iridology
The eyes are the windows to the soul, but could they also be the windows to all the body's ailments? Dr. Sydnee and Justin discuss iridology, the idea that changes in the eye color could possibly indicate different diseases and conditions – and perhaps even personality traits – although there is very little evidence that any of this is scientifically sound.Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers 
42:22 18/10/2022
Sawbones: Dr. Oz
There are many people who have been recurring characters on Sawbones. Pliny the Elder. Charlie. But few so notorious as Dr. Mehmet Oz, now running for the U.S. Senate. This isn’t a commentary on his political fitness; just an examination of his history of questionable medical advice and pop-science claims.CW: Discussion of dieting and weight lossMusic: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers
45:13 11/10/2022