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Medicinal & Health

Dubbed the Golden Age of Quackery, the 19th-century was an era in which snake oil, worm pills, invigorators and elixirs emerged on the market as sure cures for any and all afflictions. Early drug manufacturers made their own formulations and marketed them under a variety of unusual names and even more remarkable claims.

Patent Medicine is the generic term given to those various preparations that often contained a dangerous combination of ingredients such as opium and alcohol. In fact, these dubious medicines were typically not patented, but instead were frequently registered under distinctive trademarks. With a lack of federal drug controls, anything could be bottled and sold without prescription and without disclosing the contents. Shrewd entrepreneurs advertised their secret remedies under unique brand names that proclaimed outrageous healing results. These magical formulas promised to cure everything from coughs, fevers and constipation to all manner of disease including cancer and diabetes.

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