Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

Discover 67 shocking-but-true medical misfires that run the gamut from bizarre to deadly. Like when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When snorting skull moss was a cure for a bloody nose. When consuming mail-order tapeworms was a latter-day fad diet. Or when snake oil salesmen peddled strychnine (used in rat poison) as an aphrodisiac in the '60s. Seamlessly...

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Title:Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Author:Lydia Kang
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Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything Reviews

  • Samantha

    For lovers of the unusual side of medical history, this book features shocking true stories and well placed (if not disturbingly funny) puns and jokes.

  • Julie

    Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia King is a 2017 Workman Publishing Company publication.

    A jaw dropping collection of gruesome and ghastly concoctions and procedures guaranteed to cure whatever ails you… if it doesn’t kill you first.

    Before there was an FDA to weed out potentially dangerous ‘snake oil cures', the market was open to all manner of experimental potions and concoctions sold to an unsuspecting public.

    This is a fascinating look at some of the mos

    Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia King is a 2017 Workman Publishing Company publication.

    A jaw dropping collection of gruesome and ghastly concoctions and procedures guaranteed to cure whatever ails you… if it doesn’t kill you first.

    Before there was an FDA to weed out potentially dangerous ‘snake oil cures', the market was open to all manner of experimental potions and concoctions sold to an unsuspecting public.

    This is a fascinating look at some of the most horrifying cases where strychnine and arsenic found its way into tonics designed to cure specific ailments or used for beauty treatments.

    As the title suggests this is a very brief history of incredible cure-alls, medical treatments and procedures- It is not a comprehensive tome, full of dry material. Instead, it hits upon the most outrageous instances in history and as such, it makes for an informative and interesting read and is a book that you may want to keep around for reference.

    It is unbelievable and shocking at times, and could make some readers a little uncomfortable. While some of these methods may have been well intentioned, none of these so -called cures were proven, studied, analyzed or deemed safe for human use, especially in such large doses or frequency.

    But, even when proof surfaced of the danger some of these chemicals posed, cover-ups were not unheard of- such as with the tobacco industry, which cleverly employed doctors to advertise their products.

    The chapter on tobacco was particularly interesting on several levels, as was the chapter on cocaine.

    But, the second half of the book was dedicated to procedures such as performing a lobotomy, bloodletting, leeches, and the tools! - Which was akin to using torture devices.

    Thank goodness, the author chose to use humor as a way of off- setting the more cringe worthy areas of the book.

    In fact, I found myself chuckling a few times at the author's dry wit and jokes, which took gallows humor to a whole new level. But, maybe I just have a warped sense of humor.

    Even though we do have agencies that test products for long term side effects and safety, and one could go on a long diatribe about the frustrations the FDA can cause when erring on the side of caution, slowing down the process for potentially life- saving drugs, or, on occasion they miss potential dangers, or allow carefully worded descriptions on food labels that are very misleading, there are still many products lining shelves today that promise quick weight loss, miracle cures, and don’t even get me started on the claims many beauty aids try to sell you. Although they are normally safe to use, they hardly produce the dramatic results as advertised.

    When you see a disclaimer on a bottle of vitamins declaring it is not backed by the FDA, you may want to do a little research. Many of these over the counter pills, herbs, and tonics could interact with medication, or they just don’t work- period. I’ve used these natural herbs, many times, with various degrees of success, but I do urge caution.

    My point, is that charlatans, swindlers and con artists are still as plentiful as they were back centuries ago, often catering to and taking advantage of people who are desperate, looking for a quick beauty or weight loss fix. So, despite our many advances some things never change.

    However, I for one, am glad it is a bit harder to poison people with Arsenic, Antimony, or Strychnine. I am also happy we know the dangers of tobacco use and that cocaine is addictive, and surgeons wash their hands and wear surgical gloves, and that their tools are sanitized- so there is that.

    Overall, this is a fascinating look back at practices, rituals, and chemicals we once thought were okay to use, but as it turns out- not so much. It also makes me appreciate how far we’ve come medicinally, and thankful we don’t use bugs, snakes, or animals based medicine- (or use them for testing), or depend upon the touch of a King to cure us.

    This is a quick read, replete with photographs and drawings, and sketches. This book will appeal to history buffs, science and medicine enthusiasts, or anyone who likes to read educational material, or trivia.

    The book is well organized and utterly fascinating!

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 Regardless of the less than ideal state of the world today, this is one of those books that at least medically, make one grateful that we were born in today's medical world. This book is incredibly comprehensive and we'll researched. I know most of us have heard of the use of leeches, cold water cures, opium, electro shock therapy and the use of these have made us shudder with the knowledge we have now.

    Some of the things in this book I had never heard before. Such as the use of skulls and br

    3.5 Regardless of the less than ideal state of the world today, this is one of those books that at least medically, make one grateful that we were born in today's medical world. This book is incredibly comprehensive and we'll researched. I know most of us have heard of the use of leeches, cold water cures, opium, electro shock therapy and the use of these have made us shudder with the knowledge we have now.

    Some of the things in this book I had never heard before. Such as the use of skulls and brain parts of the dead to cure epilepsy, and mummy infused poultices to cure many different ailments. Mercury infusions for syphilis, oil from human fat for pain and also as a cancer treatment. There is so much in this book, even past sex toys and animal derived cures. Nasty, nasty! The background of these things, how they came to be, how they were packaged and sold is part of this thorough book. One thing though that bothered me when it seemed to be overdone is the authors pithy comments, which in the beginning seemed amusing, but began to wear.

    How did people survive some of these things? Well of course many didn't, but those that did were amazingly lucky or smart enough to stop taking these things when they seemed to be doing more harm. Probably like many of us did in the world before safe playground equipment, seatbelts and bike helmets.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Jill Hutchinson

    In the 17th, 18th, or 19th century, if you were sick, call the doctor if you wanted to die more quickly! The horrors of "medical treatment" which even stretched to the early 20th century have to be read about to be believed. It was a guessing game and the patient was the lab rat who rarely survived the "cure". Physicians were obsessed with bleeding (even if your problem was loss of blood); enemas (even if your problem was diarrhea); drilling holes in your skull to release the bad spirits; arseni

    In the 17th, 18th, or 19th century, if you were sick, call the doctor if you wanted to die more quickly! The horrors of "medical treatment" which even stretched to the early 20th century have to be read about to be believed. It was a guessing game and the patient was the lab rat who rarely survived the "cure". Physicians were obsessed with bleeding (even if your problem was loss of blood); enemas (even if your problem was diarrhea); drilling holes in your skull to release the bad spirits; arsenic and other poisons for everything from tuberculosis to the desire for a glowing complexion; opium to keep your infant from crying; surgeries performed without anesthesia, amputations being a preferred procedure for something as simple as varicose veins. ..................and these are just samples of medical practice of the times.

    Hygiene was unknown and more patients died of infection than the disease from which they were suffering. Medical knowledge was very slow in its development, sometimes due to the social restriction of the era. For example, women were examined fully clothed since it was frowned upon for them to be naked in front of men other than their husbands.

    Quackery may not be the best title for this book since the medical procedures in common use were considered to be ethical and acceptable. But of course, there were those who took advantage and publicized such devices as electric belts, cure-all potions (usually laudanum), penis enlargers, and radium tablets. Without the FDA and other watchdogs, the charlatan had a free hand in introducing miracle cures to an unsuspecting public.

    This is a fascinating look at medical history and only lost one star in the the rating for some distracting "cute" humor. After reading this book, I am surprised any of us are alive!

  • Jeanette

    Lots of information and its graphics and hardcover book form are marvelous. This holds so much criteria and minutia of centuries of treatments and all kinds of paths to attempt cures or remedies. Not all were conducted in a malevolent or tricking to profit mode. Most were serious attempts to improve a dire health problem, disease, or some living condition that handicapped to strong degrees. Because so many of the original patient conditions are serious ones, these were often experimental attempt

    Lots of information and its graphics and hardcover book form are marvelous. This holds so much criteria and minutia of centuries of treatments and all kinds of paths to attempt cures or remedies. Not all were conducted in a malevolent or tricking to profit mode. Most were serious attempts to improve a dire health problem, disease, or some living condition that handicapped to strong degrees. Because so many of the original patient conditions are serious ones, these were often experimental attempts or ones which supported a theory of human physical reality. So if humors or bile or excess was the problem then leeches or bloodletting or some such avenue would most probably "work" for an improvement.

    It is fully a 4.5 star for the information and sources. And especially for some of the original words and graphics of portrait or cases that do equal a thousand words. In the latter chapters the "tone" seemed to me to get progressively worse, although the information was excellent. The types of joking asides and word plays entwined in the copy of the telling for these realities was so off. The humor was just sick in spots. Which for me, took the enjoyment of the reading to learn about electronic or radioactive or other cures- it took it way, way down. This is 3.5 star but I just can't round it up because of the tone.

    Why would they have gone this route with the silly and such sophomoric comments? I doubt if one out of 10 people who read this book appreciated it as funny. What a misfit for the subject matter. Comparable to doing a serious ritual or funeral service in slapstick. It took away from the entire work tremendously.

    We often forget that some of the most terrible quackery schemes were done in the last two centuries in spa forms of "cures". The NW USA had several such spas. There are good books out on these and especially upon the colon flushing and starvation cures.

    But what is so horrific, IMHO, is how many men and women died to improve an appearance feature. Cosmetics and other cures for lack of some sex appeal improvement being so deadly.

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