But back in the "good old days" things were done differently and often painfully. Got a crying baby? Why not reach for Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup. There was also Godfrey's Cordial, Jayne's Carminative Balsam, or Daffy's Elixir, (which naturally makes me wonder, how daffy do you get taking Daffy's Elixer?). All of these contained morphine or opium and all put that baby right to sleep. Unfortunately, some didn't wake up.
In the nineteenth century, bleeding, purging, leeching, and enemas were still all the rage, (ew!) but in morphine, doctors found something much gentler. Together with opium, it would occupy materia medica tests forever after, recommended for obvious ailments like pain and diarrhea. By the way, Cholera and dysentery killed far fewer people, thanks to opium, so there is that, but, the medicines were also thrown at people for anything that ailed them. Snake bites, rabies, tetanus, ulcers, diabetes, (are you cringing yet?) poisoning, depression, and other mental illnesses. All said to be "cured" by these wonderments.
Huge amounts of opium and morphine were used during the Civil War, where they helped with dysentery and terrible battlefield wounds. Unfortunately, they also created addicts. So many, in fact, that opiate addiction was dubbed "soldier's disease" or "army disease" at the time. It is recorded that Union surgeon Major Nathan Mayer would pour morphine doses into his gloved hand and let soldiers lick it off. In the 1850's, just when we thought opium had reached its most potent, accessible form, Alexander Wood invented the modern hypodermic syringe. Injected morphine was stronger and required a much smaller dose. By the 1880's, Wood's invention brought on new creations: morphinomania and morphinism, terms for morphine addiction. The syringe, though a miracle for medicine of the time, also became a vehicle for a dark disease we still battle today.
So next time you're standing in line at the pharmacy waiting to get your prescription filled, imagine
You'll be happy to know, that Jasper suffered no ill effects from the stuff, and was back to his old self after a few days of bed rest. Ah, to be a minor character! Good thing I didn't give it to my hero. He might never have had the chance to fall in love with the heroine!
Until next time! Happy reading! You can check out my books on my website at www.authorkitmorgan.com. Or my Amazon page
Always a fascinating subject. Of course there was always Lydia Pinkham's elixer. Thanks for a most interesting post. DorisReplyDelete
loved this article. I can't imagine giving a baby a syrup made with narcotics. Hurrah for modern medicine.ReplyDelete