Something Good Over-The-Counter

One of Lydia Pinkham’s trade cards.

Today you don’t see many medicines that are touted as being cure-alls. But it was a different story with Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound. It was advertised as a cure for “all female weakness.” Some of you may have an original, old bottle of Mrs. Pinkham’s compound. Dump diggers, oftentimes find them plentiful when digging up areas near the foundations where old homes once stood. Lydia Pinkham became known as the mother of all patent medicines. Bottle collectors often find them among old bottles in antique shops.

Mrs. Pinkham was born in 1819 and died in 1883, but believe it or not, the compound is still going strong. Lydia E. Pinkham’s Tablets can be purchased today and they are made especially  for the woman who “Can’t Give Your Husband Real Companionship.” What were the symptoms this compound would help? Among them were: hormonal complaints, childlessness, (one ad said, “A Baby In Every Bottle”) moodiness, menstrual cramps, hot flashes, headaches, to name a few. Lydia grew up with a grandmother and mother who knew a great deal about home remedies and she put this knowledge to work. She also became known as the grandmother of modern advertising. Another ad read, “Now Raises 600 Chickens.”  That was one woman’s testimony after being relieved of organic trouble by Lydia’s Vegetable Compound. There must have been something real about her product, otherwise, how could it be sold over so many years? Clearly spelled out on the front of each bottle was the notice,” Contains 18 Percent Alcohol.” It may have had a calming affect on women’s nerves, especially if two or three bottles were taken at once. Surely in that age, women were normally in a “delicate condition” and so found it a good product. Lydia also gave advice to women and wrote on timidity, frigidity and similar intimate matters.

I suppose Lydia’s Compound was harmless, although women seemed to become dependent on it. That’s why so many old “Lydia” bottles remain, even today.  At our house, we have another old bottle of interest, marked, “Laudanum.” It is also tagged, “Poison,”  yet it was sold without prescription.Today, laudanum is strictly regulated and is known as a whole opium preparation. Yes, laudanum and tincture of opium are generally interchangeable.  Long ago, it was used in many patented medicines and became very addicting to the user. This is another reason an overabundance of a particular bottle is often found in one, old dump.

You may be wondering how I got on the subject of dumps and collecting old bottles, but the memory of this “hobby” looms in my mind. Our fourth son, Bryan, took up this interest as a

Lydia’s grandchildren’s photo on a trade card.

very young boy of nine or ten years. He was the one that sparked an interest in old bottles in our family and he amassed quite a collection of them. Even at that young age, he was already a business-minded person, he made repairs to what was an old chicken coop on our property and set up a “Bottle Shop.” He turned that ramshackle, little building into a charming, rather unique shop.  He and our family have good memories of this project. He has remained in business all his life, although it has not been selling bottles. He and his wife, Jill, are now proprietors of Virgin Kayak, in St. Croix.

Patent medicines are highly regulated today. And aren’t we much more sophisticated then to fall for false advertising?  Except for aspirin and ibuprofen I use very little of the over-the-counter-stuff, not counting vitamins. However there are two products I would stand-by, who knows, even write a testimony for. One is “Tecnu” an outdoor skin cleanser. If you are very allergic to poison ivy, this product is a must. I live in the country where it grows profusely and lines the perimeter of our yard. Using it has kept me from having it this summer, a first. Number two is “Cranberry Softgels” a fruit extract. Now the bottle says “promotes urinary tract health.” False advertising? No, it really does! During a doctor visit, a physician’s assistant just casually mentioned that the Cranberry Softgels may help.

I wonder do I hear any votes for Raspberry Ketone diet pills? I’ve been reading about them and being another fruit extract, do they also work?  Let’s hear your testimony on the over-the-counter-stuff that’s helps you. By the way, the Bible says, ” A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”- Prov. 17:22. Remember such people, with cheerful hearts, are as welcome as pain-relieving medicine.

10 thoughts on “Something Good Over-The-Counter

  1. Thanx for the tips…Tecnu…never heard of and often wondered what I could use other than going to the Dr. I use cranberry soft gels and want to try the Raspberry Ketone…it really can’t hurt. I love Proverbs 17:22 and am going to use it. Was just home for my 37th reunion for LLHS Class of “75”…cheerful hearts truely are the best medicine…!!


    • Hi Karen: I look for your reply each week on shirlandyou. You are one of the yous making my column what it is, because your reply adds something new to each of my posts. How wonderful to still be keeping in touch with your high school classmates. Looks like we both like the same products. Guess over-the-counter stuff isn’t that bad after all.:)


  2. I wonder how many things that are sold over the counter now will be found to be harmful later. Mrs. Pinkham sounds like she was quite industrious! I remember the bottle collection. I thought it was really cool. I still love colored bottles. But, I don’t really like collecting things.


    • You’re right, Janine, there is no question about Lydia Pinkham being industrious. Her business was very successful, at a time when it wasn’t considered a woman’s world. I’m with you. (or maybe you got it from me.) I don’t like collections either.


  3. It isnt in a bottle but a can Rawleighs ointment. I was brought up on it and I have to say..I don’t ever remember going to the Dr’s. Still today I keep a can on hand and when I feel a cold coming or sore throat out it comes.


    • Hi Brenda: I’ve always thought Rawleigh’s products were good and there is a can of the salve in our medicine chest. Usually a stand selling the products is at our state fair. I’m interested in how you use the ointment for a cold or sore throat? Thanks for writing, I loved hearing from you.


      • Shirley what my Mom would do was put the ointment on a white sock and wrap it around our throats…I can’t forget she would fasten it with a BIG safety pin. Always by morning we were fine. Also she would have us put alittle bit of it on our tongues. Still do it today.


  4. Shirl,Do you remember Dr. Thomas in West Nanticoke? He was our Dr.. Well my mom had a baby in ’46 (still born) and it caused my mom to have issues abnormal after the birth of a child. Dr. T. prescribed Lydia Pinkhams for her to take and she got worse. She was literally bleeding to death. One day Dr.T.called my dad and told him there was a side affect that maybe 1 in 1million women might have and my mom was that one millionth, to stop the Pinkhams right now.It threw her into the change of life at 36 yrs old.


    • No, Harriet, I don’t remember Dr. Thomas from Nanticoke. I do remember my family talking about Dr. Brown from Lehman. I never knew doctors would prescribe Lydia Pinkham. Sounds like it really threw your mother into a spin. I’d say, from your mother’s experience, it was harmful, at least to that one person in a million. Thanks for commenting, Harriet.


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