Heal all ails with electric glowinator? Yes we can.

January 7, 2009 at 4:50 am (Tabitha) (, , , , , , , , )


Now I know what you’re thinking, but this is honestly not what it looks like. Or at least not totally. It IS however a funky way of inhaling drugs, just not drugs of the illegal variety. Ozone with a side of menthol for the lungs anyone?


A door-knocking crackpot pseudoscientist claimed it was a high frequency electronic all ’round health-promoting wonder machine when he sold it to my poor old Grandpa in 1940s Brisbane.


It came with all of these disturbing-looking, glass attachments, each one shaped for the convenient application of a neon electric current to a different part of the body.


The manual has some fluffy descriptions of how it ‘works’, mostly referring to increasing  blood flow and thus hastening healing. It is also full of testimonials about the device curing arthritis, rheumatism, sore throats, gout, sciatica, ear infections, back injury, recurring heart attacks, influenza, headaches, gastroenteritis, cancer, baldness, lacerations, low energy levels, anxiety, paralysis, colds, angina, trench feet, maleana, nose bleeds, high blood pressure, blood clots, blindness, deafness, indigestion, dermatitis, fractures, insomnia, lung problems… I could go on, but wow. Why?

I can’t help but be reminded of a character in Patrick Suskind’s ‘Perfume’ who is… imaginative with his expensive, French, 18th Century cure-alls. This machine did after all cost my Granddad 86pounds, which I’m guessing was an enormous amount back then for a cobbler.

It amazes me the things that people were so ready to believe in the not so distant, less educated past. There is this one verse somewhere in Hebrews (in the Bible) that just casually mentions how water being bitter will cause disease. I can see how that would have been a natural way to explain things at the time, but it just seems silly now. Just like an all-purpose,  glowy, medical zappinator.

Don’t get me wrong though. I’m sure it does have effects of some kind. A lot of the Electrical Stimulation and pain relief machines (not to mention Ultrasound) which have been proved effective through comprehensive clinical trials are based on similar ideas to this. The difference being, I suppose that they are much more specific to particular conditions, we know how and why they work, and they are far less discombobulatingly bright, miraculous and shiny.

Anyhoo, here are some pretty pictures of the old weird and wacky make-wellinator. I’m so glad my Granddad kept it all this time. I sure do love playing with it and showing it to people.




  1. danoot said,

    Why “with mouthpiece for bellow”? Terrifying embolism times ahoy!

    Also, that thing is awesome, your granddad clearly made the right decision.

  2. Heather said,

    I looked at this first thing this morning, and you can’t imagine the thrill that this title caused in my sleep-addled brain. It rolled around my mind while I ate my breakfast cereal, and then when I came to work I had to check it again to make sure I hadn’t imagined it.

    I especially can’t believe the rake attachment! And the fact that it still glows. And that you were meant to use it on your parts. I know there were a lot of pseudodoctors in the beforetimes curing women’s ‘hysteria’ by means of sexual stimulation. But the bellows attachment is pretty disturbing. Embolism, nooo!

    I bet that thing is worth a fortune these days.

  3. juliadactyl said,

    This is so cool! I love crazy quack treatments like these, but I’ve never seen one outside a museum. I’m also a bit intrigued by a time where neon was this rare and “scientific” thing.

    The vagina electrodes are terrifying, though.

  4. misterfinn said,

    I can’t help but see these things and imagine a universe, in many ways similar to ours, where such treatments actually worked.

    Maybe it’s just the steampunk fanboy in me wishing for a world where zepplins were the main from of air travel and I could have some form of steam-powered lightning gun. If only!

  5. chromefist said,

    I can feel a placebo effect coming on as we speak!

    So, the idea is that the light has useful properties (as in UE11), also the current (as in UE23), and also the ozone produced by the reaction (UE28 and the awesome nostrilator one). And you can add menthol to that with the glass bulb thingy. Man, I would have paid 86 pounds for that, despite that being an astronomical amount – $4735.06 in today’s money. (http://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/calc.go)

    Also: Do the different colours supposedly have different effects?

  6. naboolio said,

    The colours seem to be connected to the frquency. So, the red is the highest and the light purple is the lowest. But they don’t elaborate much more than that.

  7. andrewcrisp said,

    I want to use it as a prop in a steampunk game!

    Imagine a wizard who used those things as wands, astral projection machines and super healy devices! It would be SO AWESOME.

    Also, I love the red colour. Perhaps that’s just the way the camera took the photos though… I demand to see this next time I’m at your parents’ house! 🙂

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