You’ve heard the term “snake oil salesman” to refer to someone who sells something that claims to have miraculous, usually healing, powers. Their sales process is almost entirely hype. The phrase originated in the 19th century when people sold snake oil ointments to rub on your joints to cure arthritis and soreness. Eventually, the term “snake oil” came to be used for an entire class of salesman, selling medicinal products. Their creators usually weren’t doctors, and the products hadn’t gone through modern controlled randomized trials to ensure their safety and effacacy. According to new research from University of Detroit Mercy chemists recently revealed that the most common ingredients in “snake oil” were mercury and lead.