George Washington died in 1799 at the age of 67. When he fell sick with what sounds like a cold or infection of some sort, he received care from eminent and respectable physicians. Nevertheless, within a few days, he was dead.
His medical treatments ranged from possibly helpful ("a medicinal mixture of molasses, vinegar, and butter") to very unhelpful (extensive bloodletting) to toxic (orally administered mercurous chloride, also known as calomel, generally given to patients until they salivated uncontrollably, a symptom of acute mercury poisoning).
We can look back at this story, shaking our heads sadly at the barbarity of the medicine of 1799. While doing this, we may note that mercurous chloride was an ingredient in infant teething powders in Britain until 1954, and shake our heads sadly some more. Or that mercurious chloride was a legal ingredient in skin whitening creams in the US until 1990.
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