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“Snake Oil Dietary Supplements”

I believe that there are more snake oil salesmen currently hawking their useless products than ever before.  For a little history, the term “snake oil” was used to describe a pseudo-medicine or elixir which was advertised as being a near cure-all for whatever ailed you.  Snake oil was claimed to cure everything from cancer to heart disease to depression and everything in between.  In the nineteenth century, salesmen traveled the country peddling solutions to a wide variety of medical conditions, as was depicted in numerous Western movies and in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  The fake doctor (a quack) was usually aided by an accomplice or shill, who had been planted in the audience, and at the appropriate moment, he would declare that the snake oil (ointment, medicament, or tincture) had miraculously “cured” him of his ills.

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