This Tuberculosis Thursday, we want to share a bit about medical quackery and "consumption" (AKA tuberculosis). This flyer for the Electricity Cough and Consumption Cure advertised its ability to cure "hopeless cases of consumption, asthma, pneumonia, pleurisy, and bronchitis."
We don't know for sure what was in this particular product, but similar tonics advertised to "cure" TB would often contain high levels of alcohol, opium, heroin, cocaine, chloroform, and more. For decades, desperate health seekers would purchase these concoctions. At best, they might help relieve or mask symptoms, but were absolutely ineffective against the tubercle bacillus. At worst, these products could contain deadly ingredients such as arsenic, creosote, and so on.
Did you see our "Medical Marvels" exhibit at the Saranac Laboratory Museum in 2014-15? We shared many more examples of medical quackery across the years!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 680. Courtesy of Karen Lewis and Beth Glover.]
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