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(Alternatives to Medicine in the 18th Century)

There is no doubt that by claiming quackery to be the Alternative medicine of the 18th Century, some people who practice by alternative therapies will be outraged. With that said, I will move on.

In some instance, just as today, Quacks actually did find useful remedies to health issues. However most quacks pedal ineffective medicines or therapies that had no positive effects and in some instances caused harm. One such Quack named Franz Mesmer used "magnetized rods" that were placed on the skin to cure all sorts of ills in 1734. Does this sound familiar? It should. 300 years later magnetic bracelets were being sold by the thousands despite no medical proof of actually working. Benjamin Franklin a man with a keen understanding of electricity was instrumental in debunking Mesmer's theory when it was first introduced.

Touching was a form of quackery in the 18th century. It was believed that royalty could cure disease simply by laying hands on an individual. Today the practice exist in the form of faith healers. While their are documented case of people being healed by such practice, there is no medical proof of being healed by simply by being touched. Even the Catholic Church dismisses the practice.

Other forms of quackery were more successful yet ignored by the medical profession. Today some of these quack remedies have proven to be beneficial and have been accepted as good medicine. For instance, the medicinal qualities of certain herbs are well founded today and vitamins are accepted necessary for good health.

Quacks were most successful at treating scabies which shows that even in the 18th century there were instances where the practitioners of alternative therapies were a step ahead of the established medical field. However for the most part quackery was dangerous, ill founded, and seen as the last hope of desperate patients who had no where else to turn.

Profile picture for user Tobias Gibson

The only author and editor of all pages on the site. Most of what I write about is based on years of book reading on the topic. My first web page was published back in 1994.

Updated: 04 September 2022