Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Patent Medicines, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about Grove's Chill Tonic, a late 19th century and early 20th century patent medicine developed to treat malaria. The creator of the tonic, Edwin Wiley Grove (1850–1927), was a prohibitionist and abstainer, so his medicine contained no alcohol, as so many other patent medicines did.

Another popular product in the 18th and 19th centuries, which did contain alcohol as well as opium, was designed to treat diarrhea, cough, and pain in children and adults. Paregoric became a household remedy on the Outer Banks, especially during times when no professional medical providers were serving the area. It was used to calm worrisome children and to soothe the gums of teething infants.

Photo by Jwilli74

Once the narcotic and addictive properties of opium and its derivatives became better understood in the early 20th century, the federal government began regulating its use and sale. Nevertheless, until 1970 paregoric could still be purchased in the United States at a pharmacy without a medical prescription.

Paregoric is one of several patent medicines containing opium that were used extensively on Ocracoke and elsewhere on the Outer Banks. Another favorite was Laudanum. Look for more about that medicine tomorrow. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a delightful story written by Dr. Warren Silverman, who in 1981 became the island's resident physician after forty years without a doctor. The story is about Dr. Silverman's very first Ocracoke patient, island native Maltby Bragg (1904-1985). You can read the story here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/my-first-island-patient-by-dr-warren-silverman/.

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