Cure-Alls With a Kick
To draw the line nicely, and fix definitely where the medicine may end and the alcoholic beverage begin, is a task which has often perplexed and still greatly perplexes revenue officers.
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 1883 'When Johnny came marching home from the Civil War, he was likely to have suffered from one of the so-called camp diseases. He was also likely to have treated himself with a patent medicine, such as Radway's Ready Relief, claimed to have cured some dosed troops from the 8th Main afflicted with dysentery.
Johnny carried the home remedy habit into civilian life, thus giving a great boost to the patent-medicine industry. In the period 1870 to 1900, virtually every ailment had its own ready cure:
Indigestion....Hostetter's Celebrated Stomach Bitters
Chronic fatigue....Ayer's Sarsaparilla
Aching muscles....Barker's Liniment--"Joy to the world, relief has come!" There were elixirs for those who felt they lacked sex appeal. Egyptian Regulator Tea would bring graceful plumpness to flat-chested girls. Rengo medicine would turn fat into muscle for flabby men. When a fiftyish Massachusetts housewife marketed her cure for "female weakness" the public responded so warmly that Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound grossed $300,000 in 1883, just three years after Mrs. Pinkham sold her 1st six bottles for $5. A handsome leap indeed. There were, of course, two fundamental facts about the whole patent-medicine business. It was a fraud. And second, virtually all the most popular patents were loaded with either hard drugs or alcohol.' Do you think this might have something to do with this society's present condition? Mental wacko.