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The 10 Most Fraudulent Health and Fitness Products Ever

Health products haven't always been healthy. From cures for "tired blood" to erections, these are the weirdest.

6) Centrifugal Rejuvenation

In 1935, Science and Mechanics magazine published a story touting the rejuvenating powers of centrifugal force. If old age is a process of succumbing to gravity, the thinking went, reversing gravity—in this case by building a elderly-friendly version of the Gravitron in the hospital—must have the opposite effect. It just made people dizzy.

7) Morphine "Soothing Syrup"

Everyone knows that in the early years (until 1903), Coca-Cola actually contained cocaine. But cocaine was hardly the only hard drug in everyday products back then. As early as 1849, Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, which contained morphine sulfate, was marketed to mothers as a treatment for teething children, promising to "soothe any human or animal." Like Bayer's cough suppressant, it worked, although by 1911 it was exposed by the American Medical Association as a "baby killer."

8) The Original 8-Minute Abs

In the 1890s, Swedish doctor Gustav Zander pioneered resistance training. His institutes in Stockholm, London and New York featured fitness equipment that resembles some of the machines in today's gyms. But not all of Zander's machines delivered desired results. This and other machines were meant to build strength by rhythmically hitting the user in the gut with padded leather discs.

9) Perkins Tractors

In the late 1700s, Elisha Perkins "invented" the Perkins Tractors. They were just two pointed metal rods made of steel and brass, but Perkins claimed they were made of rare alloys that, when passed over the skin, could cure rheumatism and various other ailments. George Washington reportedly bought a pair. Despite his claims of having cured 5,000 cases, he was expelled from the Connecticut Medical Society for quackery.

10) Onanism Devices

From the 1870s to the 1930s, onanism, or masturbation, was believed to be not just evil, but bad for your physical and mental health—a vice as destructive as opium addiction. Semen was considered a vital fluid; therefore, onanists, by spilling their seed inappropriately, were subject to a host of ailments, from loss of strength, rheumatism, gout and headaches, to general ill-health. To deliver men from temptation, a range of treatments were used, from adolescent circumcision to protective cups and belts. Ouch.


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