Several years ago, BCMJ published an interesting article entitled “Snake oil revisited: For doctors’ eyes only.” It resulted in several responses including one from the executives of the Association of Complementary and Integrative Physicians of BC and Canadian Complementary Medical Association, and another one from the chair of the Alternative Health and Therapeutics Committee, COHP of BCMA.[2,3]
In a recent trip to Turkey, I visited herbal shops, spice stores, and even corner stores to search for local complementary and alternative medicine. To my surprise, I found snake oil for sale for treatment of alopecia. However, it is not clear if it contains snake oil, venom, or substitute of snake product.
Aprodisiaque, another product, with a graphic illustration (warning: it may be offensive to some viewers) was available. It claims that “if you take this you can make love five times in the night.” No ingredients are identified.
I have not had the opportunity to test the validity of the claim of these two products. It may be as good (or as bad) as the Pink Pills for Pale People sold at the turn of last century in Canada with strychnine as the active ingredient.
—H.C. George Wong, MD
1. Miles JE. Snake oil revisited: For doctors’ eyes only. BCMJ 2006;48:20-21.
2. Bell W, Douglas C, Kleinman S, et al. Revisited: Snake oil. BCMJ 2006;48:255-256.
3. Oppel L. Revisited: Snake oil. BCMJ 2006;48:495-499.
4. Wong HCG. Dubious remedies. BCMJ 1998;40:376.
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