Yesteryear’s Memories: Snake Oil

June 7, 2021

It really wasn’t made from anything to do with snakes. It was usually just some mineral oil, herbs, spices, sometimes alcohol, and often junk that really wasn’t good for you. The fake healers sold it just the same, though, and many customers imagined that it helped their gout, or their arthritis, or made then feel years younger. One of the first well-known sellers of such products was William Rockefeller, Sr. He sold crude oil — right from the ground ­— in small bottles as a “cure” for cancer — and did rather well with the enterprise. His son, John, did really well. He founded Standard Oil which was broken up around 1911 for violating antitrust laws. The Rockefeller Foundation is still around, and still involved in promoting their ideas in healthcare.

Actually, Snake Oil was pretty well accepted by the public. Somehow, they didn’t seem to notice that the seller was getting richer while they were still sick. Unfortunately, people are terrified by illness, and will do just about anything when sufficiently scared. Luckily, our body pretty much knows how to take care of itself —when we give it good food, when we breathe fresh air, stay active, and get outside in nature. Maybe Snake Oil will disappear some day. The bottle changed, but it’s still there, right out in the open.

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