Radium Cures

High blood pressure...cancer...goitre...stomach trouble...arthritis...neuritis...female trouble...rheumatism...kidney trouble...constipation...excema...piles...and more!

Radium cures, which reached their pinnacle of popularity in the U.S. during the 1920's, promised to remedy these diseases, restore youthful vigor, and revitalize an ailing sex life. Our radium case contains the Cosmos Bag, bottles of Radithor, the Rator-Plac, Revigators, fiestaware, and a geiger counter. (Photos by B. and J. Gaukel. large image 18K)

The Radium Case (5K)

Fiestaware? We don't collect pottery but were asked to display red fiestaware to warn folks. In 1943, when the U.S. was developing the atomic bomb, the government was surprised to learn that a pottery maker was buying significant amounts of uranium!  The glaze in red fiestaware made prior to 1943 contains small amounts of radioactive material.

Cosmos Bag, 1928

The Cosmos Bag, 1928

Manufactured by Henry Cosmos, the cloth bag made of course cotton contains a small amount of low grade radioactive ore. It was applied to rheumatic and arthritic joints.

Radium Water Cures

Radioactive water, popular in the 1920's, was consumed by doctors and patients alike. Radioactive water is said to have a tonic effect.  The Revigator, a crock lined with radiactive ore, was used to produce radioactive water at home.  One scientist estimates that water left in these crocks overnight was five times as radioactive as the maximum recommended for well water today.

Radithor:  Pre-mixed Radium Water

Bottle of radithor, ca. 1927Radithor was pre-mixed radium water manufactured in New Jersey by W. J. A. Bailey during the 1920's.  Bailey called it "A Cure for the Living Dead" meaning a cure for mental illness and retardation.  One of Radithor's fans was Eben Beyers, a steel tycoon in Pittsburg. Mr. Beyers drank 1400 bottles of Radithor and became so seriously ill with radium poisoning that portions of his mouth and jaw were surgically removed before he died in 1931.  His death, noted on the front page of the New York Times, marked the beginning of the end of the popular radium water cures.

Radium segment from "Quackery Gallery":

Radium Links

Devices and Potions

History and Science


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Museum of Questionable Medical Devices
updated 6/10/15