8 Cures That Did More Harm Than Good

Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, the medicine you took had more to do with advertising and wishful thinking than with scientific testing of its effectiveness. The latest miracle cure would be discovered, sweep the country, and then die out when it turned out to not work. But worse, many of the cures could kill you.  

“The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off” has to be one of the best Wall Street Journal headlines of all time. The “radium water” in question was called Radithor, and the jaw in question belonged to one Eben Byers: industrialist, socialite, and amateur golf champion.

Radium and radiation were all the rage around the turn of the 20th century. People who went to natural hot springs seemed “invigorated and renewed,” and scientists noted that many of these natural springs were high in naturally-occurring radon. The radon seemed to be to water what oxygen was to air; without it, water was “dead.” Looking to profit off of this discovery, companies first bottled water directly from the springs, and later produced “invigorating” crocks (containing internal radon discs or coatings) to irradiate water. Just fill the crock before you go to sleep, and have healthy, stimulating water all day long!

Things did not work out well for Eben Byers, who drank three bottles of radon water every day. Read about his case and seven other dangerous "cures" at mental_floss. Link


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