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  • Take one three times a day

    Medicine ingredientsBefore medicine was regulated, anyone could fill a bottle with tablets or liquid of questionable quality and sell it to the unsuspectiing public using the most outrageous claims of its efficacy that they thought they could swallow. Newspapers were full of ‘articles’ citing testimonials from delighted recipients of these concoctions whose symptoms had been relieved, ailments cured, leaving them free to sing the praises of the individuals or companies who had delivered them from suffering. In the absence of advertising standards, one can only speculate as to whether these claims contained any semblance of truth, but only a cursory understanding of human biology would be enough to question whether a single potion could cure everything from chilblains to cholera.

    These testamonials all appeared in a single edition of an 1852 newspaper:

    Hunt’s Aperient Family Pills: ‘A most excellent medicine for bilious complaints, disorders of the stomach, indigestion, heartburn, giddiness of the head, gout, influenza, worms, spasms and dropsical complaints.’ That’s quite a haul for laxatives.

    If you preferred your aperient in liquid form you might have considered:

    Moxon’s Effervescent Magnesian Aperient: ‘An elegant preparation possesses all the efficacy of the best saline purgatives … of eminent service in pains in the head, bilious affections, sickness, piles and all febrile affections.’ Testimonials were wrapped around each bottle to enable customers to read them at their leisure while anticipating a speedy recovery.

    Medicine and spoonWould you not have been drawn to a ‘miracle cure of bad legs after 43 years suffering’? Such was the ordeal of Mrs Wm Galpin of Weymouth who having caught a cold at the age of 18 (and was now 61) had ever since had sore and greatly inflated legs. ‘Her agonies were distracting and for months she was deprived entirely of rest and sleep, her health suffered severely and the state of her legs was terrible.’ After applying Holloway’s Ointment for six weeks, Mrs Galpin had been restored to good health, her legs painless, and her sleep sound and undisturbed.

    If only Mr Holloway had invented his ointment 43 years ago.

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