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Alternative Therapy: An Historical Perspective on Health Fraud

Our perception of what is acceptable treatment is colored by our culture and society. Today a physician who bled a patient, or a dentist who said that decay is caused by tooth worms, would be subjected to justifiable ridicule. But it is only within the last hundred years or so that doctors and patients have …

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Alternative Medicine, Alternative Science?: A Historical Perspective (1994)

This essay briefly explores the relationship between science and alternative medicine over the past 150 years. It is of course impossible to do justice to the history of each individual alternative approach in the confines of a single essay. There are important distinctions among the alternative practitioners as regards their relationship to science. However, although …

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A Historian’s View of Quackery in 1974

Humbug and Fraud, two recent books, help clarify the intellectual climates in which health quackery began to flourish mightily in America and, a century and a half later, continues to prosper. Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum, by Neil Harris, scarcely alludes to deception with respect to health, but its brilliant analysis of how a …

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Hitler’s Contribution to “Alternative Medicine”

By creating the profession of heilpraktikers (“practical healers”), Hitler and his Nazi colleagues played a major role in initiating what is now called “alternative medicine” in Germany. Goebbels did this to keep the civilians happy because as soon as a war could be arranged, the real doctors were going to be sent off to tend …

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The Medical Messiahs: Contents

The 1966 edition of this book described the development of patent medicines in America from the enactment in 1906 of the Pure Food and Drugs Act through the mid-1960s. In 1992, an afterword was added to summarize what had happened during the previous 25 years. Dr. Young (1915-2006) was a social historian whose special interest …

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The Toadstool Millionaires: Contents

This book, originally published in 1961, chronicles the rise of the patent medicine trade from its beginnings in colonial America until passage of the first federal food and drug law. Dr. Young (1915-2006) was a social historian whose special interest was the development of food and drug regulation in America. He served for many years …

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