The following excerpt is from an article that originally appeared on The Sleuth Journal
For many centuries, the Chinese used snake oil as a treatment for joint pain, arthritis, and bursitis. They brought this folk remedy with them when they arrived in the US in the mid-1800’s to build the Transcontinental Railroad. That was backbreaking work. Synthetic pain-killers such as aspirin were not yet freely available. When the Chinese workers offered their remedy to Westerners as a palliative it was likely perceived to be a “primitive” form of “quackery” by the medical experts of that time. This is one probable origin of the derogatory meaning of the word “snake oil.”
The ironic thing about modern pharmaceuticals “snake oil,” i.e. petrochemical-derived and patented synthetic chemicals, is that they often have considerably less value than a placebo, and in certain cases may not even compare in therapeutic value to actual snake oil.
To prove the point, below are listed four remarkable studies, as cited onpost was originally published on this site