Category:
Health

Making Mercury Thermometers



The COVID pandemic has certainly made thermometers part of everyday discourse. Once upon a time, the mercury-filled instrument was the only home-friendly device available. I was not even sure you could buy one these days, but Amazon sells several "liquid-filled" devices. Here is some info from the vendor at the Amazon link.





Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 15, 2020 - Comments (9)
Category: Body, Diseases, Health, Technology, Twentieth Century

Concentrated Ocean Water

A dubious medical cure-all from the early 1960s: bottles of briny water marketed as 'concentrated ocean water'.

The sellers claimed it could prolong life, cure arthritis, cancer, Parkinson's disease, hardening of the arteries, etc.

The FDA, which shut down the companies selling it, called it "the great sea salt swindle."

I couldn't find anyone selling concentrated ocean water today. Though there are plenty of present-day products that are similar in spirit — such as those cans of Swiss Mountain Air I posted about recently.

Newport News Daily Press - Apr 21, 1961



Arizona Republic - Mar 26, 1961



Tampa Bay Times - Apr 24, 1961

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 03, 2020 - Comments (6)
Category: Health, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 1960s

Your Biological Safety Mask

Posted By: Paul - Sun May 17, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, War, Children

Howard Obesity Ointment

The application is simplicity itself. You merely apply the ointment to the part you wish reduced, then literally, "wash the fat away" without injury to the most delicate skin.

I can't find any description of what was in this ointment, but it sounds like something out of a horror story.

Munsey's Magazine - vol 29, 1903

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 05, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Advertising, 1900s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Medicated Under Vest

Not only a medical miracle but a fashion statement as well.

"has proven itself to be the very Perfection of Prevention from Pneumonia…. keeping the skin in a most delicious and healthy glow and the internal organs in that healthy and vigorous condition which is the Only Safeguard Against Disease."

Harper's Magazine - May 1886

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 01, 2020 - Comments (6)
Category: Fashion, Underwear, Health, Disease, Nineteenth Century

Canned Sunshine

The idea of using sunlight to kill viruses inside the body has recently been in the news. That made this old invention I posted about last month seem topical.


Edward W. Boersteler, of Watertown, MA, was the inventor of the ‘Curay Light Applicator,’ aka ‘Canned Sunshine.’ Back in the 1920s and 30s, he marketed it as a cure for the common cold. It emitted ultraviolet light, which people were supposed to shine down their throats, killing the germs.

In the selection of text below (taken from an article in the Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925), I didn't correct any of the misspellings. In particular, I wasn't sure whether the phrase "ultra violent light" was a mistake, or intentional.

“Previous cure has ben hampered by the inability to get directly at the germs in these darkened passages, but in the new invention the curative rays are played directly onto the germs, being transmitted through a smal rod of the marvelous substance known as fused quartz.

“Fused quartz transmits ultra violent or invisible light without loss, whereas ordinary window glass shuts out ultra violent light which is the curative agent in sunshine.

“In the Curay Light aplicator,” Boerrsteler continued, “we have produced a source of radient energy closely approximating concentrated sunlight in the upper altitude, with an equivalent ultra violent content. Though it is a potent germ killer, it is harmless to the cels of the body.

image source: Harvard University Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments



Chilicothe Constitution Tribune - Oct 16, 1925

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 24, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Inventions, 1920s

Regained sight after fall

Another case of an improbable cure.

Eugene W. Phillips, 60, had been blind for 16 years. Then, in August 1972, he fell off his back porch, puncturing his back with a stick and hitting his head on the ground. But he also partially regained sight in one eye. His doctor concluded that the fall had jarred loose a membrane that had been covering the optic nerve.

Bonham Daily Favorite - Aug 8, 1972



Provo Daily Herald - Aug 9, 1972



Related:

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Health, 1970s, Eyes and Vision

Intestinal Chimney Sweeps

Back in the early twentieth century, the French laxative Jubol ran an ad campaign that featured tiny chimney sweeps climbing up into intestines and scrubbing them out.

It reminds me of that old urban legend about Richard Gere and the gerbils.

Image source: vintage-ads — historical source: Rire - Dec 14, 1918



"Voila le petit ramoneur de l'intestin..." (Here's the little chimney sweep of the intestines)
L'Illustration - June 10, 1916

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 28, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, Advertising, 1910s

The man whose blindness, deafness, and baldness was cured by lightning

We've reported a few cases on WU of people who have experienced accidental (and improbable) cures, such as the woman whose deafness was cured by a sneeze. One of the most famous examples of this phenomenon is the case of Edwin Robinson, who claimed that being struck by lightning cured him of his blindness and near-total deafness.

The lightning strike occurred on June 4, 1980 when he ventured outside of his home in Falmouth, Maine to rescue his pet chicken from the rain. After lying unconscious for 20 minutes, the 62-year-old Robinson awoke to find himself cured of the ailments that had plagued him since a road accident nine years earlier. An ophthalmologist who examined him, Dr. Albert Moulton of Portland, said: "There is no question but that his vision is back. He can't move his eyes, but his central vision is back... I can't explain it. I don't know who can. I know some of my peers in Washington, maybe, will say it's hysterical blindness. I can't see it. It couldn't have lasted this long. From the physical findings originally, he was definitely blind."

Edwin Robinson reads about his miraculous recovery



Later, Robinson even claimed that new hair had begun to grow on his bald head. He remarked to the NY Times, "I'm all recharged now, literally... It's coming in thick. My wife is all excited about it. I was bald for 35 years. They told me it was hereditary."

Los Angeles Times - July 5, 1980



Later, Timex took advantage of Robinson's fame to feature him in a 1990 ad. Although the messaging seems a bit confused. Once broken, but now miraculously fixed?

Also, it's hard to tell, but he doesn't seem to have a full head of hair. He must have lost it again.

Source: AdsPast.com



St. Louis Post Dispatch - June 7, 1980

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 24, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Health, 1980s, Eyes and Vision

The Wonder Glove

It was a mitten lined with “uranium ore,” sold in the early twentieth century as a cure for arthritis. It was part of the fad for radioactive cure-alls.

Source: Your Money and Your Life: An FDA Catalog of Fakes and Swindles in the Health Field — an FDA pamphlet published in 1963 that includes a variety of other quack medical devices.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 20, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, 1960s

Page 1 of 11 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›




weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •