How Did One Cure #Piles and #Constipation in 1905?

piles & constipation


Admit it, who was curious? This was recorded in the Detroit Medical Journey in 1905, believe it or not. When I put up my Dungeon Crawl Post – involving anal dilators, Behind the Chintz Curtain kindly gave me this link . I suppose I should have figured they would have a place in medical history but I was somewhat surprised to discover what it was.

Here is an excerpt from the Quack Doctor:

To take advantage of the benefits, here’s what you had to do:

First warm dilator in warm water; then lubricate outside of dilator with Dr Young’s Piloment (or if it is not available, with vaseline) and while in a squatting position—or while lying on the side with knees drawn up—gently insert in the rectum as far as the flange or rim. Hold in place a minute and the anal muscles will hold and retain it. Sit or lie down and allow it to remain for half an hour or an hour to get the best results. Ten minutes will accomplish much. When ready to go on to the next larger size, it is best first to use for a few minutes the same size you have been using, inserting and withdrawing it a few times.

In case you’re wondering, the big ‘un was 4 inches long and an inch in diameter. Although at the time of this ad they were made of rubber, Bakelite was later used, and the design changed so that the flange at the bottom was flat and the dilators could stand upright, as in this photo of the exhibit at Glore’s Psychiatric Museum in St Joseph, Missouri.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the new US Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act encompassed the sale of medical devices, and once that was in force it didn’t take long for the dilators to attract the courts’ attention. In 1940, a shipment of dilators and their lubricant, Piloment, was seized at New York and the US Attorney for the Southern District of NY filed libels against them, alleging that they were misbranded.

The misbranding allegations related to the claims that the dilators would permanently cure constipation and piles, that they had many other benefits including promoting refreshing sleep and improving acne, urticaria and anaemia, and that the instructions advised ‘you need have no fear of using them too much.’

The hearing accepted that ‘it would be dangerous to health when used with the frequency and duration prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the following labeling,’ and the consignment was condemned and destroyed – one of many examples of a potentially useful product falling foul of claims beyond what it could really achieve.

Want to read the full post? Click here.

6 thoughts on “How Did One Cure #Piles and #Constipation in 1905?

  1. I love reading old advertisements. It’s amazing that people used to think was appropriate for ad copy. And it’s amazing what people used to say to cover up the fact that they needed a sex toy!

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