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Posts Tagged ‘temperance movement’

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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This victorian trade card is available for purchase.  Click on the image for more details.

This Merchant Gargling Oil trade card is available for purchase. Click on the image for more details.

Merchant’s Gargling Oil Liniment was one of many “quack” patent medicines of the 19th century; this one being manufactured starting in 1833.  The “medicine” intended for humans was not manufactured until 1875.  It claimed to be good for strange ailments such as Chilblains, Sand Cracks, Galls of all kinds, Sitfast & Ringbone, Poll Evil, Horn Distemper, and Crow scab to name a few.  It’s claims were questionable as many patent medicines were high in alcohol content (so much for the temperance movement).  Alcohol dependancy was one reason physicians were critical of patent medicines.  For more information on Merchant’s Gargling Oil Co., see http://www.rdhinstl.com/mm/rs178.htm.

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