Warner’s Safe Cure: Bright’s Disease

The name “Bright’s Disease” figures very prominently on the early labels of Warner’s Safe Cure. As I have mentioned on several occasions, it was this singular disease that, according to H. H. Warner, brought him to the brink of death and changed the course of his life from being a wealthy and successful fireproof safe salesman to an incredibly wealthy patent medicine proprietor. His story is recounted in detail in the early Safe Cure almanacs:

That being said, what exactly is Bright’s Disease? Do people still contract it or has it faded into history as a medical anacronysm. At its most basic level, it was an inflammation of the kidneys. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines it as ” a broad descriptive term once used for kidney disease with proteinuria, usually glomerulonephritis; named for Richard Bright,  an English physician who published a description of diseases in 1827.” In short, excess protein in the urine.


The 1879-1880 Almanac offered Warner’s Safe Cure as “The Original Dr. Craig’s Kidney Cure – An Absolute Specific for Bright’s Disease.”  To drive the sale home, Warner recounted his own near-death experience for Bright’s Disease:

The remedy was suggested to the mind of Dr. Chas. Craig, when lying at the point of death from Bright’s Disease, not as a probably cure for this presumably fatal terror, but as a possible relief from some of the intense pain he was suffering, and a help to his rebellious stomach. To his surprise, as soon as  he had taken the first dose of this first weak vegetable decoctin, he felt better, and, continuing to take it, he was soon on his feet again, a well and strong man. After his recovery, he administered it to his neighbors similarly afflicted, and they also got well. By degrees, as the result of experience and professional consultation, other vegetable ingredients were added to quicken and increase its efficiency, and with the compound thus prepared, thousands of cases have been cured, and many of them to the astonishment of the patients and their acquaintences. Therefore, the sick-bed suggestion which came to the mind of Dr. Craig, has seemed to him and to others almost like a revelation.

As Dorland’s suggests, the term Bright’s Disease is no longer used in medical parlance. It may be no exaggeration to suggest that but for a severe case of it that afflicted H. H. Warner, his influence on American business may have been limited to fireproof safes.



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