Addendum 15a - 2nd Edition
Quack Medicines

Addendum 15a
More Quack Cannabis Medicines

Quack Doc
“Quack Goes The Doc”
---- anonymous [said rhyme may be the origin of the term Quack]

That Cannabis was used by 19th Century charlatans and quacks is a historical fact; -- no one here is denying it.

However, as can be seen from the 1st Edition of this book [Chapter 15 - left unchanged, misspelled words and all], Cannabis simply wasn’t used that much by the quacks.   In fact of the over 2,000 pre-1942 Cannabis medicines that this museum has been able to document, we’ve only been able to find about a dozen or so such medicines.   And out of those, many of them were shown [see 1st Ed.] to have been falsely accused as such.

A.M.A - Accusations of Quackery


Quack Doc
[Caption has been censored]

OK, with that said, let’s get back to the world of Cannabis antique.   According to the AMA's own literature the following have been classified as (supposedly) ‘Quack’ medicines.   However, please just be aware that this same group also claimed that Vic’s “Vapor-Rub” was also a quack product --- No joke, “Vic’s Vapor-Rub!”

1 - HILL’S SYRUP - Mfg. by Hollander-Koshland Co. (Inc.) Baltimore
[Source = AMA Book - Nostrums & Quackery -1920 p93]

Book Nostrums & Quackery [1920 Edition] -p93

“Hill's Syrup of Tar, Cod-Liver Oil Extract and Menthol.---Hollander-Koshland Co. (Inc.) of Baltimore was the defendant in this case.   The preparation was declared to be "essentially a sweetened hydro-alcoholic solution containing small amounts of chloroform, menthol, morphin and tar; ipecac, tolu, cannabis indica, and wild cherry were indicated; cod-liver oil was absent."   It was declared misbranded because the name indicated that the preparation contained syrup of tar, cod-liver oil and menthol, harmless medicinal agents, as its principal and most active ingredients, when its real active ingredients were chloroform, morphin sulphate, opium and cannabis indica.   The claim that it was a remedy for "All Diseases of the Throat and Lungs and Asthma" was declared false and fraudulent.   Defendant was fined $100.- [Notice of Judgment No. 4171; issued April 21, 1915.]”

[Museum Notes:]
If the above is true (and please don’t believe everything you read), even I would have to agree that there is something funny going on here.   While the Hollander-Koshland Co., was a legitimate drug manufacturer (they made numerous other medicines without complaint), still if the label says Cod-Liver oil, one should expect that it would at least be one of its ingredients.   Thus, even though the product [from the ingredients I assume it to be a cough medicine] is both safe and effective.   One still has to state that (again) if the stated information above is true, then fraud would have been established.   Of course there are some of you out there that might not associate fraud with quackery, but I for one kind of do.   The only saving grace here is that it occurred in 1915 and the company, Hollander Koshland Co. has a clean record thereafter.

2 - Stello’s Asthma Cure by W.H. Muller, New York City NY
[Source = Book, Nostrums & Quackery [1912 Edition] -p573]

Book Nostrums & Quackery [1912 Edition] -p573

STELLO'S ASTHMA CURE Stello's Asthma Cure was a product of one W. H. Muller, New York City, and was sold under the following preposterous claims:
    "It Is entirely vegetable."
    "Everyone is promised a cure."
    "A permanent cure is assured to all."
    "A proven radical and permanent cure."
This "entirely vegetable" product was found to contain, according to the government chemists, the following drugs:
    Potassium iodid   Cannabis India
    Glycerin               Alcohol
It was declared misbranded because the quantities and proportions of Cannabis Indica and of alcohol were not stated on the label.   Muller pleaded guilty and was fined $50. -- [Notice of Judgment, No. 1179.]

[Museum Notes:] - This one is a little harder to gauge.   The products label did NOT seem to mention the exact percentages of Alcohol and Medical Cannabis used.   [This was required by the pure food and drug act of 1906]   And it did seem to promised a permanent cure for all asthmatic problems, which obviously was not true.   And while true, the terms Cure and Treatment were somewhat blurred at the time, still because of the guilty plea, I suppose that it is safe to state that it was a quack medicine.

3 - Sensapersa by Brown Export Co., New York, N.Y.
[Source = Book, Nostrums & Quackery [1920 Edition] -p618

Book Nostrums & Quackery [1920 Edition] -p618

Sensapers---This product was marketed by one Stephen Britton of New York City, who did business as the Brown Export Co.   "Sensapersa," according to the government chemists, consisted of purple colored tablets containing asafetida, cannabis indica, and a drug containing a mydriatic alkaloid such as hyoscyamus.   It was falsely and fraudulently represented to be a cure for "nervous trouble" and a remedy for neurasthenia, nervous prostration, nervous debility, etc.   Britton was fined $50. ---[Notice of Judgment No. 4984; issued Jan. 30, 1918.}


[Museum Notes:] - This is one of the few times [for Quack medicines), where we’ve been able to actually locate a label.   It reads as follows:

    Each Tablets contains 1/8 Gr. Cannabis
    Trade [picture] Mark
    A tonic to assist in the restoration of the
    nervous system to a normal condition.
    A sedative to relieve hysteric conditions.
    A corrective for nervous indigestion.
    A Tonic and Nerve Sedative
    Dose, one tablet after each meal and on
    going to bed.
    (see circular with directions in full inside)
    74-76 Cortland St., New York, N.Y., U.S.A.
    SMALL SIZE [3 inches high as measured]
According to the AMA, this product was, “falsely and fraudulently represented to be a cure for "nervous trouble" and a remedy for neurasthenia, nervous prostration, nervous debility, etc.”   And while we have not been able to obtain a copy of the instruction circular, but according to the label NOWHERE does the word “CURE” appear.   I only see the words, ‘relieve’, ‘corrective’, ‘assist’, etc.   Now is Cannabis an effective sedative Yes or No?   Thus I have some problems with this products Quack status.

Next, according to the AMA, “It was falsely and fraudulently represented to be a cure for "nervous trouble" and a remedy for neurasthenia, nervous prostration, nervous debility, etc.”   Problem here is I don’t see where the accusation comes from.   First the manufacturer was fined $50, which implies that somewhere along the line, some kind of false representation was made, next note the amount of Cannabis per tablet -- only 1/8 gr., which is not very much.

But maybe it would be best to leave it to the reader to determine this products status for themselves.


The following is taken directly from the “Memphis Medical Record” -- Vol. III, August 1854 - pgs 86-87.   It is all that we know about this ointment, which is included here because (A) it might have contained Cannabis, and (B) because it appears to have been sold on a Brand name basis.
Kittkege Bone Ointment.-This is a quack nostrum of olden time, having been in use in various parts of the New England states for upwards of a century, in the treatment of contusions, sprains, fractures, dislocations, phlegmonous inflammations, &c. In obstetrics, it is said to have been useful to lubricate the vagina and perineum, to facilitate dilatation, and mitigate the pain attending upon the passage of the fetus through the vulva. The tenderness of the vagina after parturition is relieved by an application of the ointment per vaginam. Dr. Hunton, of Vermont, to whom we are indebted for this recipe, remarks, that it is a farrago of narcotic and mucilaginous vegetables, and they appear to be taken hap hazard from the herbarium of some quack of limited knowledge of medical botany. Dr. H. thinks so highly of it, that he makes ten pounds for his own yearly use; but he is not particular about obtaining all the articles, it being essential only to secure the narcotic and mucilaginous qualities. He puts the herbs in an iron vessel, with a gill of water, adds the proper quantity of lard, and simmers over a slow fire for two days. The ingredients of the original recipe, are the following:
    Vc Melilotus Officinalis, Lillium Flavum, rad.
    Malva Sylvestris, Antlicmis Nobilis,
    Salvia officinalis, Artemisia Absinthium,
    Nicotiana Tabacum one large plug, Solanura Nigrum, American
    Huruuhis Lupulus, fol. Nightshade.
    Flantago Major. " Viola Tricolor,
    Sarnbucus Canadens," Hypericum perforatnm St.
    Aretium Lappa, " John's wort,
    Rumex Acestus, " Sempervirens Tectorum,
    Symphytnm Officinale, fol. Datura Stramonium,
    Hyoscyamus Niger, " Prunella Vulgaris-a a pugil. Cannabis Sativa,"
      ---- Memphis Medical Record -- Vol. III, August 1854 - pgs 86-87

Dr. W.L. Hitchcock’s LIVER MEDICINE:
[Source=Atlanta Constitution Ad Oct 6, 1870 pO_2B]

This Ad (and a few others like it), found in the Atlanta Constitution Newspaper, [era 1870's] is ALL that we know about this product.   Note however that it makes use of the term "Indian Hemp" as opposed to Cannabis.   As this term, while usually referring to 'Hemp from India' [meaning Cannabis], it could however also have been used reference 'Canadian Hemp' or Apocynum, which is a totally different medical plant.

Atlanta Constitution Ad Oct 6, 1870 pO_2B
Dr. W.L. Hitchcock’s Liver Medicine - fluid Extract of Stillinga and Indian hemp



In the first addition of this book, I made mention of contemporary quotations, which indicated that his recipe DID NOT make any mention of Cannabis Sativa.   However, since that time new evidence has been uncovered and as much as I hate to say this, I may have been wrong -- Hey at least I admit that I may have made a mistake.

But Boy, whoever this guy was, he sure was quite a character.   One day he's a minister of the Lord, the next a Medical Doctor, the next . . . I mean even Bernie Madoff (some guy who made-off with all the money) has got nothing on him.

For those of you who need a quick refresher, the following is what Samuel Hopkins Adams had to say about him in his book, the Great American Fraud.
Since the early '60's, and perhaps before, there has constantly been in the public prints one or another benefactor of the human race who wishes to bestow on suffering mankind, free of charge, a remedy which has snatched him from the brink of the grave. Such a one is Mr. W. A. Noyes, of Rochester, N. Y. To any one who writes him he sends gratis a prescription which will surely cure consumption. But take this prescription to your druggist and you will fail to get it filled, for the simple reason that the ingenious Mr. Noyes has employed a pharmaceutical nomenclature peculiarly his own. If you wish to try the "Cannabis Sativa Remedy" (which is a mixture of hasheesh and other drugs) you must purchase it direct from the advertiser at a price which assures him an abnormal profit. As Mr. Noyes writes me proposing to give special treatment for my (supposed) case, depending on a diagnosis of sixty-seven questions, I fail to see why he is not liable for practicing medicine without a license. -----Great American fraud pg 50
The following has been taken directly from the “Pittsburgh Medical Review -- Jan 1890 pg 18.”   Note that Cannabis does indeed seem to be one of the ingredients in question.
“The East Indian Missionary Fraud.- A New York periodical called Once A Week publishes an advertisement under the head of "Consumption Cured," in which the familiar story appears of the East Indian Missionary who has come into the possession of a speedy and permanent cure for consumption, and, desiring to relieve human suffering, offers the receipt free of charge to all who will address (enclosing stamp) Mr. W. A. Noyes, Rochester, N. Y. The crop of fools is perennial or this venerable fraud would long since have exhausted its market and have ceased to be profitable. A stamp to Mr. Noyes shows the modus operandi to be still the same. The receipt comes in this form:
    Extract Asiatic Cannabis Sativa... Two ounces.
    Extract Asiatic Halish Sativa Three ounces.
    Verbena Hastata Two drachms.
    Extract Dioema Three drachms.
    Pulv. Cinchoni Bark Two ounces.
    Ex. Cashgar Leaves (Blood Root) Three ounces.
    Inulin One drachm.
    Loaf Sugar One pound.
    Rum or Gin Half-pint.
    Water 1 pint.
Then comes Mr. Noyes' all important postscript: "Do not be imposed upon by unscrupulous druggists who may claim to have the Cannabis Sativa. but do not. I have made arrangements to supply this important article, without which the receipt will fail, and for three dollars will send by mail a packft of the remedy sufficient to make two quarts of medicine."

The business must be a profitable one, for Mr. Noyes has delegated as agents a list of druggists (presumably not "unscrupulous") who get their supplies from him and can therefore fill the presciption properly. Singular as it may appear, this list contains the names of some reputable men, one of local interest being Mr. G. Eisenbeis, of Allegheny, who, according to Mr. Noyes, has the true Cannabis Sativa.

Accompanying the receipt and circulars is a personal letter in which this impudent and sanctimonious rascal, careless of the wrath of high heaven, impiously adds that by procuring the medicine pure, and by following the directions as given, the sufferer will be cured "by the aid of God's blessing."

The usual habitat of this form of chicanery is the religious newspaper. Once A Week is an illustrated journal of literary aspirations, and neither it nor any of the aiders and abettors of Mr. Noyes get much credit by their connection.”
The reader should be aware that this does not actually mean that Mr. Noyes actually made use of Cannabis -- only that he claimed that it did.   Next let’s look at Mr. Noyes' next reincarnation, as the Dr. W.W. Sherar.

The [Era 1870] medical cure of one Dr. W.W. Sherar


Were Dr. W.W. Sherar and Mr. W. A. Noyes, (both of Rochester, N. Y) one and the same?   I for one am of the opinion that they were.   First, both lived in Rochester N.Y., at about the same time.   Next, note that the recipe or formulas are identical.   According to Dr. Sherar’s pamphlet:

    Extract Asiatic Cannabis Sativa... Two ounces.
    Extract Asiatic Halish Sativa Three ounces.
    Verbena Hastata Two drachms.
    Extract Dioema Three drachms.
    Pulv. Cinchoni Bark Two ounces.
    Ex. Cashgar Leaves (Blood Root) Three ounces.
    Inulin One drachm.
    Loaf Sugar One pound.
    Rum or Gin Half-pint.
    Water 1 pint.
And both operated using the same modus operandi.   Now the story is a bit different:
“That although he himself was a doctor, he was afflicted with numerous diseases, A, B, C etc. . . . while in a hot spring in Arkansas, I met an aged missionary who . . . . and urged me to use a Cannabis remedy . . . that he had learned about while as a missionary in India . . . requesting only that I should make it known to the suffering . . . etc.“
But the end result was the same, high profits for the bringer of the end of suffering etc.   Come on now if this doesn’t sound like a quack story, what does?   But again, if quackery is a state of mind, then maybe it would be best to just allow the reader to see the facts for themselves.

Now let’s move on to the Rev. C.S. Burnett, and once more the question must be asked, was he and Mr. Noyes one and the same person?

Rev. C.S. Burnett


Rev. C.S. Burnett

A sales pamphlet (by the Rev. C.S. Burnett) describing his products.

First, this author is of the belief that YES this was a quack medicine for two reasons:

1- First, there is the Volatility Factor: Here once more quoting from the book; "The Inhalation Treatment of Diseases of Diseases of the Organs of Respiration including Consumption" by Arthur Hill Hassall [1885]:
“Whatever substances, therefore, are contained in or added to water and which are not volatile at 100° C. or 212° F., will not pass over by distillation, but will be found in the residue of the retort or still. It is thus useless to prescribe for inhalation by the vapour of hot water or by means of oro-nasal inhalers, as is frequently done, such remedies as preparations of opium, Cannabis Indica, stramonium, hyoscyamus, and many other medicinal substances. “--- pg 16
Which I feel we can all agree is technically correct; which in effect means that (at least his inhaler product) won’t work as advertised.

2- Second, just look over his wording:

“This recipe is sent to you . . though a minister of the gospel, and for many years a missionary in distant parts of the globe . . . While pursuing his labors, thus brought to his notice, among other very valuable medicinal plants of that climate, an article called by the natives Hashish . . . “

Look, I’m not saying that the formula as given (in syrup form), won’t work for some of the stated medical needs.   However, just look over the pamphlet, would any legitimist person put out such a thing?   [Pamphlet can be found in chapter 7]

Now moving on to the main question; was the Rev. C.S. Burnett and Mr. Noyes one and the same person?   The answer is maybe, first let’s look at the stated formula:
    Aqueous Fluid Extract of Cannabis Sativa 8 Oz
    Syrup of Wild Cherry Bark 6 Oz
    Extract of Calabria Liquorice half pound
    Salts of Tartar 2 oz
    Tartrate of Antimony and Potass 6 Grains
    Decoction of Slippery elm Bark 1 gallon
Note that it is similar but not the same, also that he lives in New York City as oppose to Rochester N.Y. (it’s on the other side of the state).   But the modus operandi is so similar one can’t help but wonder if Mr. Noyes lived in New York City at the time before moving to Rochester.   But again, it may be best for the reader to gauge this for themselves.

But be that as it may, the only point being made here is that Fraud was taking place.

First lets look at the statistical facts;   so far for the out of over 2,000 pre-1942 Cannabis Medicines that this museum has been able to document, a grand total of 16 of them have been tinted by the label of "Quack."   And for at least three of these, we feel that as a museum, we have shown that the charge was unfounded.

Additionally between the 1st & 2nd Editions, that shape-shifter, is being counted four times.   Thus taking those factors into account, we end up with a total of ten --- or less than 1/2 (one-half) of one percent.   NOT A BAD RECORD.

Now this is NOT to make excuses.   To ignore the fact that Cannabis was indeed used in the past by Charlatans and Quacks is to do everyone out there a great disservice.   Additionally it is not this museums job nor place to defend the undefendable simply because the product made use of Medical Cannabis.   On the other hand, there are those out there who would have us believe that ALL Medical Cannabis medicines (both past and present) were fraudulent, simply by the fact that they used Cannabis at all.   However, let’s face it, many of them have nefarious (not medical) reasons for doing so.

This author believes solely in the documented facts.   Yes, there really was a Mr. W. A. Noyes or Dr. W.W. Sherar or Rev. C.S. Burnett or whatever this shape shifter wished to call himself at any given time.   But let’s be honest with ourselves, if the Medical Cannabis plant had never existed, does anyone out there really think that Mr. Noyes recipe cure wouldn’t have existed?

True its ingredients would have been a bit different, but still the question remains; Does anyone out there feel that this guy wouldn't have been out there scamming people had there been no Cannabis?

And true, some “mis-labeling” of a few Cannabis Medicines did take place.   In some cases, it was circumstantial.   Some manufacturer simply didn’t follow the exact letter of the law.   In others true quackery seems to be at work, --- But again, would this still not have been the case had Medical Cannabis not existed?

As Antique Collectors we should actually be glad that a (very few) quack medicines actually or supposedly made use of Cannabis actually existed.   One can say that it provides a colorful form of entertainment.   In fact the only surprising thing is the sheer lack of such products.

Our Goal is 30,000 pre-1942 Brand or Trade name medical Cannabis products.   This author is of the belief that we will make it with ease.

Due to space / download time considerations, only selected materials are displayed.   If you would like to obtain more information, feel free to contact the museum.   All our material is available (at cost) on CD-Rom format.  

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