The Medical Messiahs
A Social History of Health Quackery in 20th Century America
James Harvey Young

Editions

James Harvey Young describes the development of patent medicines in America from the enactment in 1906 of the Pure Food and Drugs Act through the mid-1960s. Many predicted that the Pure Food and Drugs Act would be the end of harmful nostrums, but Young describes in colorful detail post-Act cases involving manufacturers and promoters of such products as Cuforhedake Brane-Fude, B. & M. "tuberculosis-curing" liniment, and the dangerous reducing pill Marmola. We meet, among others, the brothers Charles Frederick and Peter Kaadt, who treated diabetic patients with a mixture of vinegar and saltpeter; Louisiana state senator Dudley J. LeBlanc, who put on fabulous medicine shows as late as the 1950s promoting Hadacol and his own political career, and Adolphus Hohensee, whose lectures on nutrition provide a classic example of the continuing appeal of food faddism.

Review:

"The Medical Messiahs is an example of historical writing at its best—scholarly, perceptive, and exceedingly readable. Despite his objectivity, Young's dry humor shines through and illuminates his entire book."—John Duffy, Journal of Southern History

"This book is written in tight, graceful prose that reflects thought rather than substitutes for it. Done with a sure feel for the larger political, social, and economic background, it demonstrates that historians who would make socially relevant contributions need only adhere to the best canons of their art."—Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., The American Historical Review

"[This] material is so interestingly presented that the readers may not immediately appreciate what a major historic study [the book] is, and how carefully documented and critically analyzed."—Lester S. King, Journal of the American Medical Association

"Dr. Young's well-written social history of health quackery in twentieth-century America will not only increase the understanding of our times by future historians but will also be of great value to all those interested in improving the health of the population by reminding them of the past."—F. M. Berger, The American Scientist

First published in 1967.