Poetry in potionsBMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a612 (Published 30 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a612
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Few medical texts are known to me that are more poetic than two volumes published by the British Medical Association in 1909 and 1912, respectively, entitled Secret Remedies and More Secret Remedies. They were best sellers, my copy of the first being among the 105th thousand.
The BMA, irritated by the continuing success of quacks and their nostrums, decided to publish an analysis of popular remedies. As the introduction to the first volume states, “Care has been taken to reproduce the claims and exuberant boasts of the vendors, and the contrast between them and the list of banal ingredients which follow must strike every reader. This juxtaposition of analytical facts and advertising fancies is …