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Museum treasures 

‘Radium’ Buxton Crystal Salts, circa 1930

Before its detrimental effects on health were discovered, radium was hailed as a wonder drug in the early 20th century.

Radium crystal salts

Source: RPS Museum

Radium was claimed to be a ‘natural cure’ in the early 20th century

Despite the name, this preparation of ‘Radium’ Buxton Crystal Salts does not contain radium and is not radioactive.

After its discovery by Marie and Pierre Curie in the early 20th century, radium became the new wonder drug. It was used to treat cancer and was found in many everyday products, such as toothpaste and chocolate. Products like these Buxton Crystal Salts claimed to contain radium as a ‘natural cure’.

People working in factories — who were mainly women — using radioactive paint soon fell ill and died, and the dangers of radium poisoning became known. This led ‘radium’ products, whether radioactive or not, to soon disappear from sale.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208320

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