Although we all hope for the “good old days,” those days when people could be people and behave accordingly, perhaps those days weren’t all that good.
Here are some of the medications we used to take a hundred or so years ago. They’re not listed in any order, because all of them are about as bad as any of them.
“Norodin” was the brand name for a medicine that was touted to “dispel the shadow of mild mental depression,” and even better, with “relatively few side effects.” Wow. Wouldn’t we like to have that? It sounds pretty good. Oh, by the way, it’s chemical name was methamphetamine, and it turned out to be, well, not so good, didn’t it.
This next drug had been popular since the 1700’s, and was touted as a cure for everything from malaria to menstrual cramps, and was especially effective at alleviating teething pain in infants. It was called “laudenum,” and what it was? Opium. I’ll bet there were indeed a lot of quiet babies.
No list of drugs can omit one that ever since the mid-1800’s was touted to cure asthma, along with a host of supposedly beneficial effects. That would be tobacco. Which, if you can give it no other credit, has been around legally the longest. It’s one of the few that weren’t prescribed for babies, at least.
Here’s one with a wonderful name: “Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup.” One mother wrote in, around 1850 or so, that “the effect on her son was “like magic. He went right to sleep.” It would cure teething miseries, according to the literature, and I guess it did. It was called a “baby killer” in 1911. It’s main “soothing” ingredient? Morphine. Ah, yes, I guess one could call death an end to pain.
Kimball White PIne and Tar Cough Syrup. Hmmmm. That sounds earthy enough that it must be good for you. It was called an effective tonic for colds and flu and coughs and bronchitis and a whole list of other ailments. Plus, it was really effective when given to patients before surgery. It, of course, was chloroform. I guess it would relieve just about anything you had wrong with you. It wasn’t banned until 1976. White Pine and Tar. Who named this stuff?
Bayer invented this next drug in 1898, and once again, it was really effective against coughs and was better for you than morphine or cocaine, according to Bayer. As those two were effective in their way, so was this one. It made you feel better no matter what you had. It just turned out to be a bit addictive, since it was really heroin. It was banned in 1924, so it had a good 25-year run.
This next drug was good for children and toothaches and depression and impotence and a whole list of excuses to get some for whatever ailed you. It was so good for you that Coca Cola even put it in their soda pop for a while, at least they did until everyone figured out that cocaine caused psychotic delusions and hallucinations. If there is one soda pop I wish I could try, I guess it would be that first Coke. I’ll bet it was goooooood!
Myself, I always think back to those days before antibiotics were discovered, when every cut or scrape called for a massive splash of liniment (well, it was good for both man and beast, right?), followed up by lots of iodine or mercurochrome. At the time, that treatment seemed more of a reminder not to do whatever damage to yourself you did, again, rather than a fix-you-up to make you better.
Those were the good old days, all right.