NPR logo

Jake Leg: An Affliction and the Blues It Inspired

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1429476/1429477" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Jake Leg: An Affliction and the Blues It Inspired

Jake Leg: An Affliction and the Blues It Inspired

Jake Leg: An Affliction and the Blues It Inspired

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1429476/1429477" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Blues musicians of the 1930s sang about the dire straits of people affected with "jake leg." The condition meant permanent paralysis for as many as 100,000 people who drank ginger extract cut with a potent neuro-toxin. NPR's Michele Norris talks with John Morgan, a physician and professor at the City University of New York, about the affliction and the music.