American medicine has changed much over the past one hundred years. Modern technology has allowed scientists and doctors to explore the human body and find out how it works. They have developed better medicines and helped to save thousands of lives.
One hundred years ago much was different. Most people did not have a clear understanding of medicine. For instance, it was a common belief during the later half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentienth that the brain was made up of thirty-seven organs, each controlling a different part of your personality. It was believed that by feeling the bumps on the outside of your head that you could tell about your personality. This "science" was called phrenology. The American Phrenological Journal was published up until 1911.
Also, many believed in the powers of patent medicines. These "medicines," most not patented despite what they were called, promised incredible results and had little or no scientific basis (They often claimed to cure diseases such as cancer). What they claimed to cure depended on the styles of the time. Most contained achohol; some contained cocaine or opium; and a few even contained small amounts of arsenic. Hostetter's Stomach Bitters had 44.3% achohol; whiskey has 50%. Medicines including cocaine were Cocaine Toothache Drops and Allen's Cocaine Tablets. Medicines containing cocaine were sometimes given to children. Healthtone-Obesity Bath Powder claimed to dissolve fat while you bathed. One company, Toxo-Absorbent, claimed that it cured thirty-eight different sicknesses. There were many, many patent medicine companies. Some more of which are: Microbe Killer, Kickapoo Indian Sagwa, Dr. Drake's Canton Chinese Hair Cream, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, Hamlin's Wizard Oil Liniment, and Doctor Flint's Quaker Bitters. During the 1920's between thirty-five thousand and fifty thousand people suffered from severe reactions to patent medicines.
As said before, medical "cures" changes with the fads of the time. At one point, inventions that gave you electrical shocks were popular, and not all of them even used electricity! For instance, a company once produced an electrical pill.
It was not until the 1920's that it was considered fashionable to be thin. Before then it was considered healthier and prettier to be a little on the plump side. Dieting became an modern fad. The methods of dieting change greatly over time. Some say eating less is best, some say that it is good to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, while others use appetite supressents.
As you can see, things have changed. Now, medicines go through lenghthy tests to evalute safety and effectiveness, while previously they were not regulated at all. As a result of this and other advancements, medicines today are better than those of one hundred years ago.
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