Category:
Cures for the common cold

Professor Bordier’s cure for the common cold

Electrifying the nose to cure the common cold. The electrification would continue until "the patient finds it difficult to bear the treatment."

If it worked, I would use it to get rid of a cold. But I'm pretty sure the best it did was to temporarily relieve symptoms.



Montgomery Advertiser - Sep 11, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 07, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Cures for the common cold, 1920s

Listerine Cigarettes

Another case of an odd brand extension. In 1927, the manufacturer of Listerine debuted Listerine Cigarettes that were infused with the same antiseptic oils used in the mouthwash.

The company claimed that these cigarettes would not only "soothe the delicate membranes of mouth and throat," just like the mouthwash, but also that they would "kill 200,000,000 germs in fifteen seconds" and help smokers avoid colds.

As far as I can tell, Listerine Cigarettes remained on the market until the mid-1930s and then disappeared.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Dec 12, 1927



Tampa Tribune - Nov 8, 1930

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 19, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Health, Cures for the common cold, Smoking and Tobacco

Chlorine gas cures colds

During the 1920s, chlorine gas (the same stuff used as a chemical weapon in World War I) briefly became popular as a cure for the common cold.

The Rushville Daily Republican - Mar 26, 1926



Jennifer Ackerman explains what was going on in her book Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold:

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.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 20, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Cures for the common cold, 1920s

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, Cures for the common cold, 1920s

Helmet Heat

Everybody will know you have a cold if you don this gadget. That's just what it's for, says inventor Helmi Harie of Great Neck, Long Island, N.Y. Harie says the converted heating pad will bake your cold away. He displayed it at the first International Gadget Show in New York City.
-Wausau Daily Herald (Apr 20, 1957)

The heat might actually have helped to alleviate symptoms. So, in that sense, it wasn't a bad idea. But I doubt many people were willing to wear this for an extended period of time.

Dayton Daily News - June 16, 1957



Wausau Daily Herald - Apr 20, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 06, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, Cures for the common cold, 1950s

Pre-Infected Tissues

The company Vaev claims to be selling tissues that have already been sneezed into. For about $80 it seems that you get a box containing one infected tissue. The idea apparently is that you can infect yourself with a cold, and this will somehow strengthen your immune system, thereby protecting you from further colds or the flu. Although the company's website is very vague on details, offering only this:

We believe that when flu season comes around, you should be able to get sick on your terms. We’re not about chemicals or prescription drugs here at Væv. We believe using a tissue that carries a human sneeze is safer than needles or pills. This isn’t like any tissue you’ve used before, but we love using them, and you will too.

The idea is so odd that I wonder if it isn't some kind of hoax. Note that it isn't actually possible to buy these things because the company's online store claims to be sold out.

More details at Yahoo News!.



Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 24, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Disease, Overpriced Merchandise, Cures for the common cold

Inductive Nasal Device

Norman Lake's cure for the common cold. Otherwise known as the "IND".

the temperature in the nose normally is around 91 degrees, making it an ideal breeding ground for the rhinoviruses, he said. Lake contends that this is where his idea has merit. By clamping the nose for up to an hour, the temperature inside rises to around 98 degrees and the cold never gets a chance to take root.

More info: Chicago Tribune - Nov 20, 1985

Chambersburg Public Opinion - Apr 23, 1982



Arizona Republic - May 8, 1982

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 10, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Inventions, Cures for the common cold, 1980s

Chilling big toe cures runny nose

As reported by Israeli scientists Dr. Menahem Ram and Aladar Schwartz at a 1971 joint meeting of the Society for Cryobiology and the International Conference of Refrigeration:

Sudden temporary chilling of the big toes almost immediately brings about a lowering of the normal body temperature within the nose because, they said, the big toes and the nose are nervous system "reflectors" of one another in their response to external stress. And this nasal temperature-lowering—along with humidity-lowering—"dries up the nostrils," thereby "curing" the cold, they said.


Newport News Daily Press - Sep 3, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 16, 2018 - Comments (6)
Category: Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains, Medicine, Cures for the common cold, Science, 1970s, Feet

Turpo

image

A salve made from turpentine? The same stuff you clean your paint brushes with? A wonder drug! And apparently, it cured colds, burns, and so much more!

image
image
image


image
image
image

You say you wish you could get your hands on some of this miraculous stuff? The Russians still make it! Follow the Amazon links below.



Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 20, 2012 - Comments (15)
Category: Health, Hygiene, Medicine, Cures for the common cold, 1920s, Russia, Diseases





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
May 2024 •  April 2024 •  March 2024 •  February 2024 •  January 2024

December 2023 •  November 2023 •  October 2023 •  September 2023 •  August 2023 •  July 2023 •  June 2023 •  May 2023 •  April 2023 •  March 2023 •  February 2023 •  January 2023

December 2022 •  November 2022 •  October 2022 •  September 2022 •  August 2022 •  July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  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 •