The use of chlorine gas to cure the common cold was suggested by observations that men who worked in chlorine plants to manufacture the noxious gas during the war were remarkably free of colds and flu. The same was true of soldiers on the front lines exposed to the pungent, biting fumes of chlorine, compared with those in the rear. A hundred years earlier, physicians had noted that people who worked and lived in the vicinity of bleaching establishments had fewer respiratory infections than others.
Chlorine was thought to act as a kind of thorn-in-the-flesh therapy. Vedder (dubbed "the chemical warrior" by Time magazine) proposed that "the irritant action of chlorine stimulates the flow of secretion and cleanses the mucous surfaces," resulting in "productive coughing and blowing of the nose." Through its oxidizing action, the gas was also thought to rid the body of toxins and fuel the activity of white blood cells useful in the attack against offending microbes.
Practically overnight, chlorine therapy became a popular treatment for victims of colds, bronchitis, and whooping cough... For the general public, there was Chlorine Respirine, 50 treatments for $0.50 in a handy collapsible tube, each dose purported to "knock a cold in three hours."
Controlled experiments eventually debunked the idea that chlorine gas had any curative value. Though I'm not sure how to explain why people exposed to chlorine didn't seem to catch colds as often. Perhaps it was just mistaken, anecdotal evidence. Or perhaps the chlorine gas was sterilizing surfaces, helping to prevent the transmission of germs.
The theme of this 1920's ad campaign was that if your kid didn't eat Ralston Purina breakfast cereal, then he/she was going to die.
A child's life is a fight! Danger Days are always ahead. Danger Days — the days when little lives hang in the balance — may come next year, next month, or perhaps — tomorrow. Your children must meet these Danger Days. Are they ready? Will they win?
An Australian woman had been suffering from headaches for seven years. Doctors suspected a brain tumor. The good news was that, after operating, they found she was tumor free. The bad news was that she had a cyst full of tapeworm larvae in her brain.
Oliver Halsted was granted a patent for an "exercising machine" in 1844. It was later marketed as the Health Jolting Chair. AKA the "wake-up chair." By pulling the levers on the side, it would bounce up and down. It was said to be a panacea for "dyspepsia, liver complaint, low spirits, general debility, constipation, 'so-called malaria,' jaundice, melancholia, and anemia."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.