October 29, 2022 | Last updated Jun 14, 2023

Shocking Medical Breakthroughs

From the snake oil salesmen of the past to the infomercial pitchmen of today, the public has been bombarded with devices, diets, and medicines promising relief from mental or physical maladies. Electric “medical” devices that generated ozone were sold to cure any number of ills, as were numerous concoctions. The examples here date from the early 1900s, but are they really much different from some of the products being touted today?

Lincoln X-ray Infirmary sign

Lincoln X-Ray Infirmary sign advertising Ozonoline and Electrical Therapy Treatments. (Source: Elmer Carlson, Allen)

Blud Rub Machine (NSHS 34-34)

This Blud Rub Machine, an electric scalp massager from about 1920, was used in the Butler family barbershop in University Place, Nebraska. (Source: Duane Butler, Lincoln. NSHS 9866-34 )

electrical therapy machine

This electrical therapy machine, from the turn of the twentieth century, was used by W. A. Anderson, Ord, Nebraska. (Source: Ray T. Abernethy, Lincoln. 7838-1)

Davis and Kidders Magneto electric machine

Davis and Kidders Magneto electric machine. (Source: University of Nebraska Medical Center Library. 10600-6)

This Cosmo Ray machine was sold in Lincoln during the 1940s. The instructional pamphlet included testimonials from people who had been cured of such varied ailments as warts, ingrown toenails, jaundice, high or low blood pressure, and even “psychiatric problems” by the ozone generated from the Cosmo Ray.

Cosmo Ray Machine

Cosmo Ray Machine (Source: F.C. Radke Collection, Courtesy of Joanna R. Cook)

Cosmoray letterhead  and pamphlet

Cosmoray letterhead and pamphlet (Source: Mark F. Radke, Columbus, Georgia, 8699-50- 52)

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