Alternative "Quack" Medical Devices : Great For What Ails You

"Quack" medicine is the promotion of unproven or fraudulent medical practices. The term typically denotes the peddling of "cure-all" medicines and medical devices. Although more prevalent in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, quackery continues even today. With rapid communication available through the internet, the unregulated marketing of quack cures in recent years has increased dramatically.

There are many reasons for the acceptance of quack medical prcedures and devices. These include the perpetuation of quackery to take advantage of ignorance about conventional medical treatments; the public's distrust of conventional medicine; the perpetuation of consiracy theories regarding the suppression of unconventional or natural therapies by quackery promoters; as well as the desperation of those patients with painful or terminal illnesses seeking any available treatment.

Quack medical devices like those in the EHMHF collection gained prominance in the mid-19th century. As electricity became more and more a part of people's lives, there was a natural curiosity about its curative properties. Some took advantage of this and invented devices that purported to cure a variety of illnesses through a jolt of electricity.

Claims were made that these divices cured everything from impotency to rheumatism, to back pain, insomnia, depression, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, indigestion, and even female "nervous disorders". Powered by electricity, batteries, or magnets, these devices delivered an electric shock, proving to the patient that the device was working.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of these devices were advertised in magazines such as Popular Mechanics where you could mail order a device to cure anything that ails you as well as purchase lessons to fly an airplane or learn hypnotism.

It was not until the U.S. congress passed the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act of 1938 that there was any regulation on these devices. This new law prohibited the misbranding of medical devices and false advertising, subjecting those that made these claims to federal prosecution.

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Alternative "Quack" Medical Devices