Though safely out of fashion in today’s Europe, Western doctors just a few centuries ago recommended drinking blood, tasting brains, and eating flesh, Der Spiegel reports. Pieces of cadavers could be had in almost any pharmacy, says a British researcher who’s writing a book on "medicinal cannibalism." He cites corpse-preparation books that recommended, for example, “the cadaver of a reddish man of around 24 years old.” The Renaissance put an end to it all.
Major historical figures embraced doctors’ prescriptions: King Charles II of Britain, for example, took a daily dose of distilled brains, while Pope Innocent VIII drank the blood of three boys when he was dying. “It was about the intrinsic vitality of the human organism,” says the researcher. If a person had died of unnatural causes, his leftovers could be the source of life yet to be lived.
(Read more Cannibal stories.)