A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Study of Patent Medicines Reveals Their Ingredients
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
(Public Domain)NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA—Chemist Mark Benvenuto of the University of Detroit and his team employed X-ray fluorescence to analyze the contents of patent medicine bottles from the collection at the Henry Ford Museum. They found that a majority of the samples contained calcium, iron, and zinc, but many also contained lead, arsenic, and mercury. “What we’re looking at is a group of people who were getting towards what we now consider modern medicine; they were taking the first steps. I believe some were systematically going about trying to cure some disease or another—but in that mix there was probably a huckster or two,” he said. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.
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