Microbiological, virological, bacteriological, immunological, medical, epidemiological, historical, anecdotal

Tag: advertisements

The hygiene hypothesis, in fable form

Cleanliness and sterility are all well and good, and of course we don’t want to be surrounded by excrement and effluvia, but you know what? In this new century, when it’s all pasteurize this, and filter-sterilize that, and launder this, and have an inspector certify the soundness of that… well, you know, me and the old lady, we grew up on the farm, and we didn’t know from all this hygienic rigmarole the academic doctors endorse, and we just might have been healthier and heartier than youngsters today. A little dirt don’t hurt.

So here’s an odd little humor piece from Life magazine of February 25, 1904 (Volume XLIII, Number 1118, page 179), which medical men found so apt that it was re-printed in the Chicago Medical Journal, the Medical Fortnightly, the Mississippi Valley Medical Journal, theĀ Indianapolis Medical Journal, the Eclectic Medical Journal, the Doctor’s Factotum, the St. Louis Clinique, the Cleveland Medical and Surgical Reporter, and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Alumni Report.

Happy New Year, symbolism of babies, and all that.


And while we’re at it, here’s an enlightening ad from the same issue of Life. Did you know that people who don’t drink beer seldom drink enough fluid of any kind? And that Schlitz is cooled in plate glass rooms? How has this wisdom been lost to the ages?


“But doctor, does my insurance cover Schlitz? Is there a generic available?”

Dew-Fer-Ol: A don’t for all


Five pieces of advice to the New York-area physicians of 1914:

1. Don’t prescribe a medicine made by a South Jersey winery.

2. Don’t prescribe a medicine that was created on the principle of “Two great tastes that taste great together”.

3. Don’t prescribe a medicine whose ads give no clue of what condition it should be prescribed for. (Anemia, presumably. Though that doesn’t explain the olive oil.)

4. Don’t prescribe tincture of iron citro-chloride. Particularly in acidic mixtures, it will break down to ferric chloride, which is poisonous. (Source: Merck Report (October 1915), Volume 24, page 244)

5. You probably have some patients who want to drink wine but have been pressured by the temperance movement to think it’s wrong unless a doctor prescribes it. Just prescribe wine, instead of some weird substance. 25 ounces of port wine would probably be cheaper than a bottle of Dew-Fer-Ol.

* * *

Source: Long Island Medical Journal Advertiser (1914), Volume 8, page xxix, which is at the very end of the PDF available here.

What exactly is “Tinct. Citro Chlor. Iron”? I think this is it (excerpt from the American Pharmaceutical Association’s National Formulary, Fourth Edition (1916), page 225).