The Violet Ray Generator – A Cure for All Your Ills
by Bill Schuette
During the early part of the 20th Century, enterprising inventors discovered a device that would cure all manner of human ills. It was called a Violet Ray Generator. Proponents claimed that it would cure dandruff, falling hair, rheumatism, headaches and insomnia. Other cures touted were leg and back pain, sciatic pains and impotence. Additionally, ailments such as brain fog, carbuncle, gray hair, hemorrhoids, lumbago, writer’s cramp and wrinkles, were also on the list of miracle cures.
The Violet Ray Generator is a hand-held Tesla coil that produces a radio frequency that energizes a low-pressure gas electrode. When activated, the gas inside a sealed glass device glows violet, much like a neon sign. Also produced is ozone and ultraviolet light, which was said to have additional curative powers. Some units produced a spark up to 3" when placed near a patient’s skin.
To use the device, a mushroom-shaped glass wand was placed into the handle and gently passed over the affected area of the body. The patient felt a warming sensation, similar to today’s diathermy machines. More sophisticated devices of this type were commonly used in doctor’s offices throughout the first half of the 20th Century.
The home version of a Violet Ray Generator, pictured here, was also available for under $10.00 in the 1920s. Hundreds of thousands of the devices were sold to gullible relief-seekers.
A 1930s advertisement for the device boasted of its curative powers: “One of the most remarkable developments of the wonderful science of electricity is that of the Violet Ray machine or high frequency generator. The Violet Ray may be said to be a diffusion of an electrical current of tremendous power and resistance, into millions of tiny harmless units which can be applied to the tenderest and most delicate parts of the body without the slightest harm. As applied to the human body, its results have been found to be of enormous benefit in innumerable instances.”
The ad goes on to state that, “Impurities are washed from the affected organs by a rich, warm flow of blood which nourishes and stimulates the tissues and which is generated by the penetrating current of the Violet Ray, reaching the cells which supply life to the tissue, and causing them to vibrate”.
A more modern form of this device is still in use today. Some hairdressers use a plastic wand, which operates much like its antique cousin, and is used for scalp stimulation and massage.