Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Radithor Certified Radioactive Water - The All Too Real Thing

Image by Sam L. via Flickr

During the last part of the 17th century, a curious thing happened. Folks began to distrust medicine, which was becoming more and more complex and hard to understand while embracing cures that were based on new and emerging science. This period saw the rise of radioactive remedies based on radioactive isotopes like radium. 

There were Radione tablets for energy, a radium emanator from Zimmer laboratory, meant to be immersed in water, and products called the Revigator watercooler, for example. Many of the radioactive health products were actually fraudulent in that they didn't actually emit the amount of radiation they promised to. A few, products, however, did. 

Radithor, "Certified Radioactive Water," manufactured by Bailey Radium Laboratories, Inc., of East Orange, New Jersey, claimed to contain radium and mesotheorium in triple distilled water. It wasn't sold as a medical treatment or cure, but ratehr as a nonmedical restoritive tonic. It was "not a drug, not a patent medicine." Just as well, sicne "Dr." William J. A. Bailey was not a medical doctor. 

The product actually did contain large amounts of both radium and thorium. While many products that contained very little if any radioactive products had been shut down by the government, some few of the real thing had been allowed to continue. 

Bailey actually challenged anyone to prove that his product did not contain the amounts of radium and thorium he claimed, offering them a $1000 reward. Nobone ever did. In fact, he was not lying. 

The product led to the end of the radiation cure craze. Weatlhy playboy Eben Byers, had a three-bottle a day Radithor habit. He died in 1932, after his came off.

His death caused the FDA, which had been formed in 1906, to insist that radioactive health products provide proof of their safety and effectiveness. This was, of course, impossible, so the industry all but dies. A few products with very low levels of radiation continued to be sold into the 1960's, however. 

Bailey was quite confused about the relationship between radiation and zombies. He actually thought his product was "A cure for the living dead." Everyone knows that radiation creates zombies instead of curing them. 

After the Federal Trade Commission stopped Bailey from selling his radithor, he went right on peddling other radiation products. He found the "Radium Institute" and sold products such as a radioactive belt-clip, a radioactive paperweight, and a water irradiator. 

Brown's Household Panacea - The Great Pain Reliever

A panacea is basically a cure-all. Most patent medicines of the 1800's were panaceas of one sort or another. Brown's Household Panacea, sold during the late 1800's tp early 1900's for 25 cents a bottle, was advertised as a "family liniment" which was, oddly, also recommended for internal use.

Its advertising claimed it would treat any pain whether applied externally to the skin or taken by mouth:

For Internal And Extenral Pains, Rheumatism, Pain in Stomach, Bowels or Side, Colic Diarrhoea, Colds, Sprains, Burns, Scalds, Cramps & Bruises.

It's ingredients, like most patent medicines of the day, were kept secret and I was unable to find any contemporary analysis of the contents.