‘Eat! Eat! Eat!’ Those notorious tapeworm diet pills

Sanitized Tape Worms - a spurious 'vintage' ad

Peoria, Illinois, 1912: the horror begins. A society lady, encouraged by a friend’s success with an easy new weight-loss treatment, pays $25 for ‘two rather large and suspicious-looking pills.’ Her husband sends the pills to be analysed by the Washington public health service, and before long a ‘government secret official’ …

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The Acme Worm Bouncer

ADvent Calendar Day 19 This wonderful product name conjures up an image of Wile E Coyote speeding along a dirt road on a go-kart-mounted trebuchet, firing little worms at Road Runner until the cart hits a stone and tumbles into a lake, attracting thousands of ravenous fish to the bait. …

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Live Lizards Found in Girl’s Stomach

CLEVELAND, O., Dec. 23—.Two live lizards three and a half inches long, several smaller ones, and a number of lizard eggs, were taken from the stomach of Lovel Herman, nineteen, four days before she died. A postmortem examination showed that the wall of the stomach had been attacked by the …

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Bourbon Poultry Cure

If your Easter chicks aren’t looking too chirpy, why not perk them up with a dose of this 20th-century Kentucky remedy? As a 1911 advert put it: Sick fowls don’t pay, Droopy hens won’t lay and the Poultry Cure was a bargain at only 50 cents for a quantity that …

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The Worm-Doctor of Shoreditch

John Gardner, Image Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London

It’s a while since we last heard from our old friend Ascaris lumbricoides, so it’s time he made another appearance on The Quack Doctor together with a few of his helminthic chums. I’m putting together a talk about the career of John Gardner, a former soldier and picture-framer who became …

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The Worm Has Returned

Regular readers of The Quack Doctor might remember that back at the end of September last year, I blogged about a news story surrounding the National Archives’ Surgeons at Sea project. The Archives’ press release focused on a 12-year-old Irish girl, Ellen McCarthy, who apparently had the misfortune to vomit up …

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Girl vomited 87-inch worm – or did she?

The dearth of posts on The Quack Doctor over the last couple of weeks is owing to the fact that I was away in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory – not on holiday exactly, as I got paid to go and write about it, but nevertheless much more fun …

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Something to show and scare the people

TAPE WORM Removed ALIVE IN TWO HOURS with HEAD or no charge. (No Fee in Advance.) No fasting. Have cured over 2,000 people of Tape worms with this harmless infallible specific, 50 per cent of which were doctoring for various other diseases, thereby eking out a miserable existence as thousands …

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The tragic story of Ching’s Worm Lozenges

    ..   What is any self-respecting quack to do in the face of criticism?   The answer in 1804 was exactly the same as it is now – turn nasty and threaten to sue the arse off everyone.   The name ‘Ching’s Worm Lozenges’ might suggest that this will be an icky-parasite …

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Some remarkable cases of worms

This post departs from the usual because it’s not directly related to an advertised remedy, and no one involved is out to make money from selling cures. While I was researching the Sugar Plums for Worms, however, I came across many interesting stories showing the impact of parasites on individuals’ …

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