The Controversial Cundurango Cure: Medical professionalization and the global circulation of drugs

Elisa Sevilla, Ana Sevilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article examines the medical and political discussions regarding a controversial medicinal bark from Ecuador - cundurango - that was actively sponsored by the Ecuadorian government as a new botanical cure for cancer in the late nineteenth century United States and elsewhere. The article focuses on the commercial and diplomatic interests behind the public discussion and advertising techniques of this drug. It argues that diverse elements - including the struggle for positioning scientific societies and the disapproval of the capacities of Ecuadorian doctors, US abolitionist history, regional and local political struggles - played a role in the quackery accusations against cundurango and its promoters. The development and international trade of this remedy offer interesting insights into the global history of drugs, particularly how medical knowledge was challenged during a period when scientific medicine was struggling for hegemony. It explores how newspapers expanded the public interest in a possible cancer cure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-440
Number of pages18
JournalScience in Context
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • African American medicine
  • Cundurango
  • Ecuador
  • US Civil War
  • cancer therapy
  • charlatan
  • circulation of knowledge
  • drug advertising
  • history of medicine
  • international drug trade
  • medical professionalization
  • quackery

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