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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.