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Vintage Advertisements that gave Shocking Advice to People

It wasn’t until the 18th century that modern medicine began to take shape. Unfortunately, as medical science has progressed faster and faster in the ensuing centuries, our medical knowledge has also become more and more out-of-date. As a result, countless medical beliefs of the past now seem positively absurd.

Suppose you factor in the motivation for profit that drives so many medical and health trends. In that case, you’ll get many unsubstantiated claims from people selling food, supplements, medicine, and other stuff that’s supposed to improve your health. In addition, there are incredibly unhealthy products being advertised, such as donuts, pesticides, radiation, opioids, and amphetamines.

The following vintage health ads for such things reveal not only the general lack of knowledge about nutrition and health at the time but also the lax laws that governed what advertisers could and could not claim. As a result, companies claim in these ads that their products offer a wide range of health benefits but provide little or no evidence to support their claims.

We can see what our ancestors believed about health and medicine and how far we have progressed in understanding the health risks of exposure to certain dangers over the years. Furthermore, the ads show a shift in social attitudes towards children and less blatant sexism.

Since the ads above were created, so much has changed. Be sure to check, some strange medical practices and terrifying medical instruments from the past.

#4 An 1800s advertisement for stramonium cigarettes used to treat asthma. We now of course know that inhaling smoke can intensify the symptoms of asthma.

#5 Cellophane ad showing a baby wrapped in cellophane. In reality, a baby in that situation would suffocate.

#6 A 1930s ad promoting the false idea that bad skin is caused by internal toxins and can only be cured by ingesting yeast.

#7 This is one example that presents terrible advice for modern viewers, but good advice for people at the time.

This is one example that presents terrible advice for modern viewers, but good advice for people at the time.

While modern alkaline batteries are toxic and should not be burned, through the late 1950s, most people used zinc batteries that burned harmlessly in a fire.

#8 Ad for an asbestos pad for the dining table. We know now that asbestos powder can cause cancer when ingested or breathed in.

#11 A vintage cigarette ad from the days when it was legal to use claims about cigarettes’ supposed health benefits made by physicians.

#12 Sugar ad claiming that sugar can be used to prevent overeating, when sugar is one of the main foods associated with the negative effects of overeating.

#15 An 1800s advertisement for Coca-Cola that claims the soft drink can cure headaches and exhaustion.

#16 A children’s painting book that encourages the use of lead paint.

A children's painting book that encourages the use of lead paint.

The ingestion of lead paint b children has been found, in recent decades, to cause many developmental diseases.

#18 Ad for a milk of magnesia that promotes it as a cure for “feeling like you’re smoking too much.”

#19 Ads claiming that sugar can be used to prevent overeating, when sugar is in fact one of the main foods associated with the negative effects of overeating.

#20 Advertisement for DDT portraying it as safe. DDT is a pesticide that was found to be incredibly toxic to animals and people that came into contact it.

Written by Aurora Hale

I am a blogger, entrepreneur and small business coach. I'm an introvert and cat lover. My favourite hobbies are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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