History is littered with charismatic hucksters and misguided fools eager to peddle useless elixirs and ineffectual trinkets for every manner of malady imaginable, from bear-bile to magnetic bracelets.
The term “snake-oil” has become something of a catch-all term for any ineffective remedy, sold with a litany of empty promises. While the phrase itself conjures up images of 19th-century fairground shysters, the troubling reality is that we live in an era where snake-oil is more abundant than ever before. And it has never been more imperative that we are able to spot it.
A tidal wave tide of fraudulent and dangerous cures led the American government to introduce the food and drug act in 1906, establishing the precursor body to the modern FDA. Finally armed legal and scientific methods to combat charlatanism, analytical chemists turned their attention to Stanley’s compound.
But while these may be medically inert, this does not render them harmless. Natural practitioners are typically bereft of recognized medical training. As a result, they are prone to missing important signs, and prescribing completely inappropriate treatments for serious conditions.
More of this news at The Irish Times