Quackery, Claims and Cures – Elixers of the Past: The College of Dentistry at New York University Brings this Section to Life with “Elixers of the Past

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

Quackery in medicine is as old as medicine. In times
of crisis desperate patients believe in extraordinary
claims. In the annals of pain killer quack medicine,
elixirs, nostrums and liniments hold a preeminent
position. The College of Dentistry at NYU received
a collection of 237 bottles of nostrums and
liniments dating from approximately 1850 through
1940. In this paper we inaugurate a series of articles
featuring “Elixirs of the Past”. We start this series
with four samples, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,
Dr. Grove’s Anodyne for Infants, Jadway’s Elixir for
Infants and Kopp’s, four of many teething syrups
that contained narcotics and were linked to infant
death at the end of the 19th century. In 1906
Congress introduced The Pure Food and Drug Act
to stop unsubstantiated claims. Companies were
fined in court cases and finally compelled to remove
narcotics and stop making unsubstantiated claims.
Unmasking past claims hopefully stops quacks
of today. Nevertheless, far more unfounded and
extraordinary claims are being made today, using
social media, perhaps more brazenly than one
hundred years ago.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages157-162
Number of pages6
Volume68
No3
Specialist publicationJournal of the history of dentistry
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Keywords

  • Morphine
  • patent medicine
  • quack medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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