A Look Into The History of Doan's Kidney Pills

Doan’s Kidney Pills were originally advertised as “miracle pills”, which claimed to treat a variety of ailments. There were not a large quantity of advertisements that advertised to do a similar thing, but the main two were Doan’s Kidney Pills and Dr. William’s Pink Pills. Due to the fact that medicine at the time was still developing and overall understanding of illnesses was relatively unknown, actual medical professionals weren’t able to properly diagnose and treat many of their patients properly. This resulted in many individuals going and using these untraditional methods of treatment. In general, kidney function was not well understood, resulting in renal diseases being broadly categorized as Bright’s disease .


Doan’s Kidney Pills


When looking at the similar alternative to the Doan’s Kidney Pills, Dr. William’s Pink Pills were eventually realized for their true worth and removed from the market. I was originally expecting a similar result for Doan’s Kidney Pills, although it appears that these pills are actually sold today even. It appears at some point the deceptive and untruthful advertising was changed to only advertise for the true effects of the pill. Sometime during this timeline, the ingredients of the pills were switched from oil of jupiter & potassium nitrate to magnesium salicylate, a mild analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The differences between the two are that potassium nitrate is used today mainly in explosives and fertilizers, whereas modern Doan’s Kidney Pills actually contain a substance that has been proven to help with pain and inflammation. It is frightening to see Doan’s Kidney Pills avoided the same fate as Dr. William’s Pink Pills, despite not being a placebo capsule and instead containing substances such as potassium nitrate which have been proven to cause violent gastroenteritis, anemia, methemoglobinemia, or even nephritis .

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Tryfon Gerasimos Theophilopoulos

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in fall 2019.