Warner’s Safe Cure: Test Your Kidneys!

Part of the appeal of Warner’s Safe Cure was the fact that it sold the notion that any person could effectively be his or her own physician. With the United States in the throes of becoming an industrial world power, the exercise of self-reliance was encouraged. This was particularly true given the primitive state of American medicine. Only a small percentage of physicians received formal medical training and most were either self-taught or apprenticed to an established physician.

Warner offered individual Americans the chance to be their own physician. Part of that pitch was what appeared to be a way to test your own kidneys for the maladies that were manifesting themselves in other ways.  For Warner, the kidneys were the key to good health. Over the years, he ran countless ads offering up the same psuedo-scientific test. Below is an advertisement from the December 6, 1903 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Test Your Kidneys - St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, MO) - 6 Dec 1903

According to the ad, the user was directed to “[l]et some morning urine stand in a glass for 24 hours: if a reddish-brown sediment forms, or if particles float about it, or if it is the least cloudy or smoky [sic], your kidneys are seriously affected and utterly unable to carry the waste out of the body…” Sounds pretty scientific, right? Truth is, any urine left to sit will likely precipitate out or remain cloudy. In short, the fix was in. Almost anyone doing the test, would be convinced that their kidneys were unhealthy. No worries, good health was but $1 away (or perhaps several dollars). So, what are you waiting for? Test Your Kidneys!

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