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The Good Old Days of Medicine

by Guy McCardle

September 13, 2011

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Donate Most everyone likes a blast from the past. Back in my grandparent's day you could grab a few cents and run down to the local drug store for heroin cough syrup and cocaine toothache drops. I bet they worked just fine too! The American Medical Association said alcohol wasn't too bad for your heart, kidneys and arteries. Researchers in Southern California had "proven" that women and smokers have the steadiest nerves and other "scientific studies proved" that too much dancing brings about tuberculosis.

So...slap on your power/balance bracelet, sip some Kangen water and read more about the good old days of medicine.

Lloyd Manufacturing Company Cocaine Toothache Drops. Circa 1900. In the US, cocaine was sold over the counter until 1914 and was commonly found in products like toothache drops, dandruff remedies and medicinal tonics. This medicine was said to have been embraced by kids and their parents alike.

Apparently we've come a long way in postmortem examinations. Note how nothing is mentioned about the condition of the liver. By reading this, one could almost argue that being a "drunkard" improves the condition of the heart and kidneys. Source: Modern Mechanix Magazine, October, 1932

Dr. Seashore uses a pistol to gage the steadiness of his test subject's grip. I suppose this explains why Annie Oakley could shoot the eyeballs out of a gnat at 50 paces while puffing a cigar. Source: Modern Mechanix Magazine, June, 1935

Heroin was widely used not only as an analgesic but also as a remedy for asthma, coughs and pneumonia. Mixing heroin with glycerin (and often adding sugar or spices) made the bitter-tasting opiate more palatable for oral consumption. Source: International Medical Magazine, January, 1902.

I suppose the twin devils of dancing and daylight savings time combined to kill your immune system. Of course anything that causes you to share air space with someone who has active TB increases your potential of getting that disease yourself. Source: Modern Mechanix Magazine,December, 1932.

* Images courtesy of

by Guy McCardle

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