Michael Mosley exposes the curious, gruesome and sometimes fatal ways in which doctors have furthered medical knowledge by using themselves as the guinea pig.
In the first episode Michael Mosley charts the revolutionary development of pain-free surgery. This history of anaesthetics includes the 18th-century chemist, Humphrey Davy, who inhaled up to 50 pints of laughing gas a day and yet missed its true significance. It celebrates the conman turned dentist, Dr William Morton, who slept with a skeleton by night and experimented with ether by day and who many now regard as the father of anesthesia. It exposes the truth about 19th-century Scottish national hero, James Young Simpson, showing how his reckless enthusiasm for chloroform led to numerous deaths. Medical Mavericks also reveals how a lesser-known chapter in the life of Sigmund Freud - his experiments with cocaine - transformed anesthetics.
Michael Mosley recreates one of the experiments when he tries nitrous oxide at Edinburgh Infirmary and meets current researchers, Professor Michael Wang and Dr Ian Russell at Hull Royal Infirmary, who are just two of the modern day self-experimenters.