The Story of Medicine: Pain, Pus & Poison

Season 1
In this "entertaining medical series" (The Sunday Times, U.K.), Dr. Michael Mosley shows how drugs have revolutionized medicine and changed the course of human history. Unfolding over a period of 200 years, it's an extraordinary tale of daring, self-experimentation, revelation, genius, and outright luck.
Michael Mosley
DocumentarySpecial Interest
English [CC]
Audio languages

Included with CuriosityStream on Amazon for $2.99/month after trial

Add to Watchlist
Add to
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Services LLC.
Write review

  1. 1. Pain
    October 3, 2013
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    What exactly is physical discomfort, and how can we control it? Mosley explains the profound effect pain has on our bodies and the ways in which we have endeavored to lessen it. He shows how, since the discovery of morphine, chemistry has conquered pain and how pain prevention and drug addiction are inextricably linked.
  2. 2. Pus
    October 10, 2013
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    Infection can take over the entire human body, and up until the early 20th century the only medical defenses against it were more medieval than modern. Harnessing the power of microbes in the battle against infection led to what some consider humanity's greatest achievement the eradication of smallpox.
  3. 3. Poison
    October 17, 2013
    English [CC]
    Audio languages
    With proper medical research, deadly poisons and venoms can become revolutionary, lifesaving medicines. Mosley examines how scientists have gone from finding antidotes for these poisons to applying them as treatments, in the process turning killers into cures.

More details

Season year
Acorn Media
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices

Other formats


4.2 out of 5 stars

51 global ratings

  1. 53% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 20% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 19% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 8% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 0% of reviews have 1 stars
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

Clay GarnerReviewed in the United States on January 17, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
''All poison is medicine - All medicine is poison''
Verified purchase
Interesting and instructive. Includes personal stories and background that adds human interest. Travels to the locations where historical finds occurred. England, Germany, America, to the very houses or laboratories where discoveries were made. Makes story come alive.

Shows the operating theatre where ether first used. Developed by two dentists, who failed in the first attempt (one committed suicide). Interesting.

Video divided into three parts,

1) Pain - that is the development of pain treatment, starting with laudanum in the nineteenth century. Later refined into morphine. Explains that aspirin and heroin came from the same research.

1. Opiate Origins
2. Surgical Anesthesia
3. From Coal Tar
4. Specific Compounds
5. Pain Relief

2) Pus - penicillin mentioned by Fleming, but only really developed by British as treatment for soldiers during WW2. Thereafter, huge effort to find additional antibiotics. British companies decline to manufacture it. Scientists travel to Brooklyn and penicillin is mass produced just in time for invasion.

1. Microscopic Killers
2. Treating Disease
3. Fighting Infection
4. Greater Challange
5. Eradication

3) Poison - arsenic used as treatment for syfillis. Bella Donna used by women to dialate pupils to attract men. A poison that also attracted coroners. Covers the unique cures and uses of curare, venom, scorpions, etc.. Mustard gas invented for WW1. Later the first chemical used in cancer treatment. Start of chemotherapy.

1. The Eccentric
2. Creating Chemists
3. Another Battle
4. New Drugs
5. Ingenious Killers

Also presents the difference of bacteria and virus. Shows how the recent understanding of human genome will enable individualized medicine.

These three episodes last 159 minutes.
Also includes extra 27 minutes on ''Seven Wonders of the Microbe World''.
1. The Black Death
2. Food Preservation
3. Nitrogen Fixation
4. Antibiotics
5. Genetic Engineering
6. Life on Mars
7. Beer
These were short, interesting and educational. Great!

This is not chemistry class, but closer to history of medicine.

Enjoyable and educational. Plan to watch with my grandson.
7 people found this helpful
MemaReviewed in the United States on May 11, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Educational and entertaining
Verified purchase
A very well constructed educational piece, or 3 pieces. There is enough humor to keep us entertained through all 3 chapters. I work in the industry, pharmaceuticals, this would make a nice addition to any training programs. I learned some nice historical accounts which could be used in my own department's training documentation. Thanks for deeper insight into the many "stumbles" which made medicine what it is today.
2 people found this helpful
LillybettinaReviewed in the United States on September 11, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Loved it!!
Verified purchase
This is an awesome look at the history of medical science and its almost comical origin. Very informative but with a funny take on medicine, early surgery, anesthesia (where it medical science seems to have originated), and lots of interesting medical procedures which are, thankfully, no longer performed.
2 people found this helpful
JoyReviewed in the United States on October 13, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very Good Overview of Modern Medicine
Verified purchase
Intelligent and informative overview of the history of modern medicine. I especially enjoyed the narrative of the development of early twentieth century drugs which now have become a scourge on modern society, including heroin and the development of opiate drugs.
One person found this helpful
Wyatt and SabrenaReviewed in the United States on May 27, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Verified purchase
100% must see! Learned so much history and gives you a great outlook on what we have in store for our future with medicine and research. Great series! Wish I could find more great stuff to watch like this
2 people found this helpful
J. SingletaryReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Verified purchase
This is a truly interesting CD set. It is very honest - to a fault, some say, as it is graphic. I have learned a lot from it and shared it with family members. Informative, it is.
One person found this helpful
Ruben AlanizReviewed in the United States on August 23, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
its great. interesting and wonderful quality video
Verified purchase
i originally had seen part of the series on you tube, but wanted a copy for myself. its great. interesting and wonderful quality video.
One person found this helpful
TobiGailReviewed in the United States on April 24, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Ohhhh Gross!!!
Verified purchase
But such a fun, interesting, entertaining, and informative short series. Go for it!
See all reviews