Not everything was better in the good old days

2 minute read

Why, why, why …

Your back page correspondent is a big fan of old-timey cures; especially those which stare scientific method squarely in the face and say: “Nah, let’s try sticking something up the bum instead.”

For example, back in the 1700s the practice of resuscitating drowning victims by blowing tobacco smoke up their rectums was commonplace.

Never has learning to swim seemed quite so compelling.

But it is a “health” product from the more recent 1940s which has caught our interest today.

Proving that wannabe senator Pete Evans ain’t Robinson Crusoe when it comes to spruiking bonkers remedies, we find that rectal dilators (yep, that’s butt plugs, folks) were being marketed as a miracle cure for maladies such as headaches, acne and, counterintuitively, insanity.

“Dr Young’s Ideal Rectal Dilators”, as they were known, came in a range of sizes and users were encouraged by the accompanying product information to start small and work their way up. (Ahem!)

The marketing guff also sagely advised the dilators should not be used by anyone under the age of eight without a doctor’s supervision.  

There is, however, a happy ending to this tale.

The US’s FDA, in its wisdom, quite promptly ruled the products’ claims were not backed up by any actual evidence and were indeed quite dangerous.

If you see something stupid, say something stupid… Send your exotic remedies to

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