In Search of History: Potions or Poisons
(Manufactured on Demand)
In the late nineteenth century costumed performers roamed rural America entertaining people and selling vast quantities of medicinal preparations. Usually neither beneficial nor healthy their elixirs often contained opium cocaine mercury and grain alcohol. POTIONS OR POISONS? tells the fascinating story of how a twentieth-century reform movement led by renowned chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley of the Food and Drug Administration and spurred on by journalist Samuel Hopkins Adams led to the end of these roving "medicine shows." Although Wiley's 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act added an element of regulation to the industry it did not stop the proliferation of so-called miracle tonics. In fact it was merely the beginning of a tense struggle between those who develop supposed cures a public eager for a quick fix and a government that must continually scramble to keep up with the latest trends in medicinal healing. From the first patent medicines to online pharmacies old-time medicine shows to New Age scams POTIONS OR POISONS? is a fascinating look at the promise of health in a bottle.