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Top 10 Diseases Named After Food

I, personally, found medical school to be a grueling and tedious regimen of rote memorization and sleep deprivation – the experience of which can be more or less distilled down to a masochistic exercise in self denial and deprivation for the sake of human well being (and Porsches and golf club memberships). One bright spot in my training was the quirky trivia and neat historical anecdotes that would pop up once in a while. Doctors throughout history have proven to be a very creative and resourceful bunch, and their naming conventions can often be downright tongue in cheek. Among my favorites are disease findings and symptoms that are named after food. I am morbidly fascinated about how gross and unpalatable these naming conventions can be, but I smile when I realize that such “culinary” descriptors may partially arise out of the dark humor that is a natural outcome of such rigorous training and prolonged exposure to human suffering. Without further delay, here is a list of ten disease findings from the emerging medical specialty of “culinary pathology and pathophysiology.” Where appropriate, a photograph of the disease is linked – be warned – they are not pretty.


Blueberry Muffin Rash


Not to be mistaken with our favorite high calorie breakfast pastry, blueberry muffin rash is a cutaneous (skin) finding in infants who were exposed in the womb to the rubella virus. This rash is a form of purpura (red or purple skin discoloration that does not blanch with fingertip pressure due to bleeding under the skin). Although no longer solely associated with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), it is best remembered as such. The classic triad (no, I am not referring to Asian organized crime here) of CRS is deafness, eye abnormalities and congenital heart disease. [Disease Photo]


Nutmeg Liver


No, congestion is not just reserved for your sinuses in the medical field. Nutmeg liver is another name for chronic passive congestion of the liver. It’s also known as congestive heapatopathy. This is a result of congestive heart failure, which in laypersons’ terms is a sick heart that cannot pump blood as well as it used to. With a poorly functioning heart, blood essentially “backs up” in the venous system (the half of your circulatory system that is responsible for bringing deoxygenated blood back to the heart). The intricate network of veins found in the liver becomes engorged with blood, giving the liver the microscopic appearance of a grated nutmeg. Unfortunately you can’t grate a nutmeg liver into your favorite apple pie or nip of eggnog; if heart function is not restored, the liver can become permanently damaged, resulting in fibrosis, which is scarring of diseased tissue. [Disease Photo]


Watermelon Stomach


Watermelon stomach is also known as gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE). Try saying that three times fast. It’s no wonder physicians would rather name it after one of our favorite summer fruits, instead. This is a very rare finding that involves dilated blood vessels in the last part of the stomach (antrum). GAVE is of unknown etiology (cause) and is a rare cause of gastrointestinal bleeding and iron deficiency anemia. Doctors call it watermelon stomach because of the characteristic red streaks of stomach lining that look like markings of a watermelon. Ok, well last time I checked watermelons don’t have red streaks, but what did rapper Dr. Dre say…”trust me, I’m a doctor.” [Disease Photo]


Cauliflower Ear


Mixed martial arts enthusiasts and angry drunks beware—cauliflower ear can be one’s worst enemy. This is a deformity that occurs after repeated trauma to the ear. With enough blows to the ears, the blood supply and underlying cartilage scaffolding gets damaged, to the point where the healing process runs amok, creating a cosmetically unappealing growth that looks a lot like albino broccoli, I mean cauliflower. This condition is not reversible, other than with an expensive visit to your plastic surgeon. Too bad medical ethics do not allow kickbacks for patient referrals. [Disease Photo]


Strawberry Gallbladder


Better known as cholesterolosis of gallbladder, strawberry gallbladder is a surgical finding of excessive cholesterol deposits in the gallbladder wall. As we all know, the gallbladder stores and releases bile (which is made in the liver) which helps us emulsify and subsequently digest the fats in our diet. The stippled appearance of the gallbladder is due to the cholesterol deposits, which I guess would represent the seeds of the strawberry. Like a lot of medicine, the cause of strawberry gallbladder is unknown. Luckily for all gallbladders out there, having high cholesterol does not seem to have any harmful effects. [Disease Photo]


Chocolate Cyst


This is one of the few cases where chocolate is not better than sex for the majority of women out there (well at least 52% of British women according to a 2007 survey by Cadbury, who makes chocolate, incidentally). Also known as endometriosis of the ovary, a chocolate cyst occurs when endometrial tissue (blood vessel laden tissue that lines the uterus and is shed monthly in the absence of an implanted fertilized egg) finds its way into the pelvic cavity and begins to grow on one or both ovaries. This tissue continues to proliferate, slough off, and proliferate again much like a regular menstrual cycle. The problem is this is now occurring within the ovary instead of the uterus. Blood accumulates over time and turns a brown chocolate color. Unfortunately, chocolate cysts often rupture, but not before causing a lot of pain and discomfort. Surgical removal of the ovary is definitive treatment, but hormonal treatments are available as well. [Disease Photo]


Port Wine Stain


A port wine stain is a relatively common birth mark caused by a collection of swollen blood vessels near the skin surface. It is usually innocuous, but may cause emotional distress in patients where the birthmark is especially prominent (hey, it didn’t stop Gorbachev from espousing Perestroika and Glasnost). The color is reddish-purple like the color of Port wine (sorry Sherry, there is no birthmark named after you) and can darken with age. Occasionally, a port wine stain may be an indication of a more serious disease such as Sturge-Weber syndrome, or Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome (I always wondered if doctors resented having to share a disease discovery with so many other doctors). If bothersome, port wine stains can be removed just like unwanted tattoos. Laser treatments are effective because it kills the offending blood vessels without damaging the skin. Repeated treatments are required and this can be an expensive and time consuming proposition. [Disease Photo]


Bread and Butter Pericarditis


Also known as fibrinous pericarditis, this is the result of inflammation of the pericardium, or sac that encloses the heart. It is often caused by bacterial or viral infections, or after a heart attack. The pericardium takes on the appearance of butter on bread after it has been dropped (butter side down, of course) on the carpet. No, there are not stray hairs or dust bunnies found imbedded in the lining of the heart but there might as well be. The appearance is caused by fibrin (a type of protein) that is deposited as a result of injury. This causes a characteristic “friction rub” that is audible with a stethoscope. Another key finding is chest pain similar to a heart attack, that gets better when you lean forward. Treatment is usually with aspirin or anti inflammatory medication, with surgery rarely required. Of note, this is another one of those factlets that are pounded into your head in medical school, but never tested on because that would make things too easy. [Disease Photo]


Currant Jelly Sputum

Currant Jelly

This is not something you want to spread on your scones along with some clotted cream. Currant jelly sputum is a mass of blood, sputum, mucous and cellular debris that collects in lung passages as a result of untreated Klebsiella pneumoniae pneumonia. The incidence of Klebsiella infection is increasing, likely due to new strains with antibiotic resistance. This bacterium is the second most common cause of urinary tract infections, second to E. coli. However, before you start worrying that you are going to cough up something that looks like the blue ribbon prize at the 4-H meet, pneumonia due to Klebsiella usually occurs in people who already have other medical conditions such as diabetes, other chronic lung diseases and alcoholism. Other symptoms include high fever, chills and flu-like symptoms.


Café au Lait Spot


French for ‘my coffee is more sophisticated than your coffee’, café au lait spots are birthmarks. Like the port wine stain, they, in and of themselves, are not harmful and are called such due to their light brown color. However, café au lait spots can be an indication of the presence of many diseases, such as tuberous sclerosis, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and Hunter syndrome. The presence of at least six café au lait spots, at least 5 millimeters in diameter (before puberty) or 15 mm (after puberty) aid in the diagnosis of Neurofibramatosis I (NF-1). NF-1 is a human genetic disorder that was once thought to be the Elephant Man’s diagnosis du jour, but has since fallen out of favor with medical historians. [Disease Photo]

  • hassan


  • Meg

    Very interesting! Great intro!

  • Cathy Jo

    Nice list! The food pictures made me hungry, then the disease descriptions made me nauseous! I admit that I lack the valor to view the disease pictures at this hour of the morning… perhaps later. Thanks for some interesting reading!

  • rikki

    No blue waffle?

    • 2 girls 1 cupcake? :)

    • Elemarth

      I’ve heard that was actually just made up to gross the world out.

  • tlclove

    Am I the only one who can’t seem to find the link for #3’s picture?

  • fraterhater

    Great now I’m hungry again.

  • jerjer

    Fantastic!!! :)

    • tl dr

      oh sweet, a reverse troll!

  • Will Trame

    Interesting. The only one I have ever heard of was cauliflower ear. I have to reiterate the fact that the opening narrative was definitely eye-catching.

  • Miss V
    • bigtezza

      DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK……………………

      • Aladdin_Sane


  • Arsnl

    I think i have 3 out of 10 of those but i want the rest too. Any indications where to get some fine port wine sputum. I heard the years 1945 and 1986 were particulary good for this type if wine (and birth defects)

    “resented having to share” i think they enjoy it. Having to share it with at least one german makes it sound so much more serious. Every doc wants to name a deadly and gruesome disease or something, right?

  • DsMoto371

    I see the person that commented about it being a “great intro”, but I thought it was pretentious. The general idea for me was “I went to medical school, and look how many big words I can use!!”. Was an ok list otherwise, although 3 or 4 of the items are extremely well known.

    • I thought it was a well thought-out, well-written and altogether interesting list. Considering the language s/he could have used, I’d say it was actually pretty dumbed down, and uncommon “big” words were explained. I’d like to see more lists from the author.

  • This list was really interesting, though I expected to see Popcorn Lung, but then, in saying that, Popcorn Lung has a connection to it’s name. Also the name is much more entertaining than the disease itself.

    I’d heard of the port wine stain, but then i’d say most people have. The rest I’ve never heard of, are the common terms or are they just used amongst doctors?

  • Marlena

    I’m surprised there is no disease named after cheese…
    I loved the list.

    • Arsnl

      50 cent is said to suffer from emmentaler perforations.

    • Pallrala

      There actually is! In tuberculosis,the lesion is called ‘caseous necrosis’ because of its cheese-like appearance. So there you go. Happy?

      • Momotsuki

        Damnit, I was gonna say that XD

  • Sherwin

    Wheres the Blue Waffle and Special Fried Rice Deseas?? :D

  • Chris

    A pleasent read. Now what’s for breakfast?

  • Vanowensbody

    Great list

  • oouchan

    I refuse to look at the pictures…as some of my favorite foods are on this list. Don’t want that image in my head…..just in case. Go to bite into a muffin and invoke the gag reflex. Not pretty.

    Cool list and interesting topic.

    • Kobbin

      More like the “oh my lord, I just bit into a baby” reflex. >.>

  • Chineapplepunk

    Haha, this list gave me a chuckle!! What’s next?! Cabbage head?!?!

  • mynameis….

    I have chocolate cysts and to add to the list, it sometimes requires surgery. I’m on hormone treatment to shrink them because sometimes they don’t rupture they grow massive and then cause excessive scarring. I know because I have stage 4 endometriosis

  • Katie

    Thank you SO much for posting photos of FOOD :) I like having the info and the option to click here to see more….

  • mom424

    Very excellent list – great premise and execution – just the exact right amount of snarky humour. I’m hoping we can look forward to more along this vein; medicine is fascinating.

    I’m debating whether to remove the link for the blue waffle (*definitely NSFW, avoid if you’re squeamish) from the comments – I don’t really believe that it’s used by the medical profession?

    Again- great job!

  • John Doe

    … Didn’t read it.. just looked at the pic’s :)

    • Name

      me too

  • Auburn Tiger

    Thank God they didn’t include blue waffle. The less time I spend thinking about it, the better.

  • Pallrala

    Bread n butter pericarditis was the first that came to my mind! The nest was strawberry tongue in scarlet fever.

    Im in 2nd year med school. So frankly i loved the intro more than the list! Hehe.

    Btw,is ‘cholesterosis’ and ‘cholesterolosis’ the same thing,just mis-spelled? Or are they different conditions? Coz i had a patho spotters exam yesterday,and a tail question asked about ‘cholesterosis’. The cue cards at my school r ancient,so it could have been a spelling error.

  • Name

    hey whats wrong you look down

    i just found out i have a port wine stain

    well thats not so bad you could flip the cushion did you try bleach

    PUNCH idiot

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Interesting well written list, always nice to learn something new !

    Thanks Doc

  • YouRang?

    No “Strawberry Nose?” The winoes in my circle will be devastated.

  • bestever2682

    My kind of list!!!! I have 2 pts. w/ cauliflower ear…. not pleasant to look at

  • Sylko

    NF1 was never the Elephant Man’s diagnosis. NF2 was.

  • blackbit

    I love this kind of list. Excellent read.

  • Dava

    Thought for sure you would have blue waffle on here…. google it. *shudder*

  • Wired4Life

    I was hoping Salmonella would be on here…

    • Maggot

      Why? It wasn’t named after a food. And don’t say “but salmon is a food”, because that’s irrelevant.

      • bigski

        so is ketsup….thats what pres regan said .

  • Panda_Face

    Graham Rowntree, of Leicester and England Rugby fame, has the finest set of Cauliflower ears I have ever seen!×275.jpg


  • cnf

    didn’t put the best one, blue waffles.

  • Iain

    Interesting. Of course there are plenty more out there for a future list – starting with the delights of rice-water stools (cholera) and pea soup stools (typhoid).

    • Maggot

      Those aren’t diseases, those are symptoms. But then, so is list item #2 currant jelly sputum, and #10 blueberry rash. Additionally, port wine stain and café au lait spots aren’t necessarily diseases either. They are birthmarks…but also according to the list, might also be indicators (i.e. symptoms) of various diseases. But not diseases in and of themselves. Cauliflower ear? Hmm, I’d say that’s akin to scar tissue, but the list says it’s a “growth”. Is it continuously growing, like a tumor of sorts? I guess that’s a disease. I’m on the fence with that one. It annoys me sometimes when people split hairs and pick apart the literal specifics of a list title, but I’m doing it here and will say it seems like only 9, 8, 6, 5, and 3 are actually diseases.

      • YouRang?

        M-itis, I think that if you actually CREATE lists you’re going to be much more forgiving than if you don’t. You do, I don’t. I feel the title is the linchpin; if the list doesn’t follow it’s own title, it’s almost always a poor list.

        You always need one item that doesn’t work with the title and that’s what generates the posts. So in a list of untranslatable words, you put in a Czech word that means to call someone and hang up and you get 48 people writing in to say it’s a “one-bell” and another 53 to say it’as a “dfropped call.” If you take out all those repetitive remarks, there’s not much left, numbers-wise.

        But in this topic we have at least four, maybe five, list items that don’t meet the writer’s own specifications. That’s just ridiculous.

        • N.B. My working title for this list was “Top 10 Disease Findings Named After Food” and not the published “Top 10 Diseases Named After Food.” Unfortunately I do not have any editorial control after submission. These entries are all what we call “signs” and “symptoms” and may indicate underlying disease. For example, an infant with blueberry muffin rash was most likely exposed to rubella while in the womb. This finding in and of itself does not necessarily mean anything unless the entire clinical picture is taken into account, but sometimes findings are so indicative of a disease that the underlying disease diagnosis is almost a slam dunk. Thank you for bringing this issue up. I have a whole book’s worth of material like this on my laptop, but I would be hesitant to publish any more of it unless I could get some reasonable assurance that the title of my post would not be changed.

          • YouRang?

            Thank you for the clarification. I guess “Diseases” was just SNAPPIER than “Disease Findings.”

  • cool list.

  • bigski

    stick to your day job and leave the riffin to a comedian…..hahaha just kidding . no im not. liked the list.

  • blyth

    Not a bad list but it kind of feels like the begining was aimed to put me down for not going to medical school… unless you just edit wikipedea and don’t actually own a porsche but feel the need to disguise yourself over the internet because your main mode of transportation is a bus or tricycle…

  • anon

    cafe au lait is french fo coffee with milk

    • anon

      not actually trying to be gangsta.

  • squidmilker


    • YouRang?

      No thanks, had it for lunch.

  • dagdfg

    “Mocha & Milk” is a perfect matc h like “black & white” people

    Black’ White ‘Fli rt ” C óM —-The most s uccessful interracial da t ing c lub. If you are still waiting// for your sweet “milk” or “mocha”, don’t hesitate to check it !! Don’t let your babie s wait too lon g for you !!

  • Mario Holmes

    Haha this fits the Food & Health category perfectly :P

  • indie_skies

    My son has a cafe au lait spot although its just the one and its just bigger than a 5pence piece. Told by the doctor to think of it as a sort of flat mole, have to cover it up in the sun.

  • Good list, but to nit-pick, these aren’t diseases, they’re signs, for example a cafe-au-lait spot may be benign, or associated with the DISEASE Neurofibromatosis.

    Just to add, many other medical terms refer to food, such as Caseating (cheese), Maple Syrup urine, Redcurrent jelly stool, Fruity breath (hyperglycemia), P’eau d’orange( orange peel skin) and much more.

    • Pallrala

      Since we’re on corrections, fruity smell (also known as kussmal breath) is due to ketosis not hyperglycemia. It is an just associated contidion in uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.

  • poco

    blue waffle?

  • dewdrops

    Great list! I always find medical lists fascinating being the biology nerd I am. I’m hoping to see more lists from this author. Good idea to link to the disease images, although I didn’t think they were that bad (maybe I’ve been desensitized after so many dissections in college).

  • YouRang?

    I sympathize with the list writer and his lack of control over the title as we went through the same thing when I worked for a newspaper. Sometimes we’d be quite perplexed by the title that ended up on our stories as they had little relation to what we’d actually written.

    Our photographers would caption their pictures but since they knew the caption would be rewritten they felt free to say what they liked. One photo sailed through with the caption untouched until someone noticed that it said “**** *** slides into second base as the umpire gets his fat in the way as usual.”

  • freckledsmile99

    Cool list. I thought your intro was great and funny. Thanks!

  • disgusted

    Ahem…anyone up for some blue waffles?

  • syanur

    Delicacy of the risk, for the health of our bodies should be able to control our appetite.

  • tasha bell

    u a very dumm person to me

  • Al

    I have NF1, it sucks. I don’t understand why the doctors tell me tumours are not supposed to be painful, it is actually very painful and frustrating at times…

  • K

    they forgot strawberry cervix, banana and lemon sign ( spina bifida), Peau d’Orange (breast cancer), Grape like clusters ( sarcoma butyroides), Omental cake (haha), cherry angioma, and spaghetti and meatballs (malassezia furfur).