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Every once in a while, I find myself puzzled about the things people during the late 1800’s believed in.  In this case, the curative properties of Burdock’s Blood Bitters (or BBB) advertised on this Victorian trade card.  Burdock Blood Bitters was a patent medicine made by T. Milburn & Co. of  Toronto until just prior to the repeal of prohibition.    

 
 

Burdock Blood Bitters Victorian trade card

Burdock Blood Bitters   

What are blood bitters?  It is a liquid used in the making of alcohol cocktails.  Hmmm.  No mention of a medicinal ingredient.  This is surprising since blood bitters were often marketed as a cure for female “miseries”.  What is not surprising is the mention of alcohol (a prime ingredient in many patent medicines of the late 1800’s).  

What is burdock?  It is the sticky weed balls that get stuck to pets.  Turns out burdock roots have been a favorite medicinal herb for centuries.  For example, they were used in remedies for constipation, hair loss, and as a blood purifying agent.  Burdock roots are still being sold as an ingredient in acne medicine.  

As an added note, BBB contained nearly 20% alcohol.  It seems like this “medicine” was a great way to hide alcohol consumption during the temperance movement and prohibition.  It is more likely people bought this medicine for the alcohol, than for its so-called curative properties. 

   

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