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Ammoniaphone to treat chest and throat diseases, English, 1871-1900

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It was claimed that the Ammoniaphone could treat and cure throat and chest diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, consumption, coughs, colds, loss of voice and deafness. It was also marketed as a device for the improvement of vocal tone and power and as such was recommended for “vocalists, public speakers and clergymen”. It was invented by Dr Carter Moffat who believed that the Southern Italian plains acted as an ideal health retreat due to the quality of the air found there. Through chemical analysis, he discovered that the air had a high concentration of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. He then attempted to recreate the effect of breathing such air with this device, its silver tube being filled with chemicals and fragrant oils. The Ammoniaphone is used by inhaling slowly but deeply from the centre cap. Made by the Medical Battery Company, prices for the Ammoniaphone ranged from 21s (£70 today) to 105s (£351) depending on the concentration and quantity of the chemicals it contained. After some months the Ammoniaphone would need recharging by the manufacturers. The accompanying advertising claimed that the Ammoniaphone was used by a host of famous people of the day.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: ammoniaphone

Instrument which uses the inhalation of ammonia to treat bronchial disorders.

Glossary: asthma

A common condition in which the airways go into spasm and become constricted. It causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing. It is often a reaction to hypersensitivity, but can also be triggered by exercise or stress.

Glossary: bronchitis

Inflammation of one or more bronchi (one of the larger air passages in the lungs), usually a result of infection. It is characterized by intense coughing.

Glossary: pulmonary tuberculosis

A deadly airborne disease which attacks the lungs.