If you think some of the today's medicines, such as Prozac or Vicodin, are too strong and you are afraid to take them, perhaps you are right. Only a specialist can prescribe them, under very specific conditions, as each pacient is a different case. However, our ancestors took other kinds of medicine that were more aggressive, without a care in the world, trustingly. The times were certainly different, but they survived and took care of our parents and, in some cases, us. Makes you think. Many of these medicines were not even sold in pharmacies and were made from substances that are now illegal, that is, drugs. Opium, heroine, cocaine were some of the most common. Hard to believe it? Then take a look.
Heroine, for instance, was used to treat pain, about a hundred years ago. It was used as a substitute for morphine, because it was thought not to be addictive. Aside from its use as a painkiller, it had other properties that were used to fight off asthma, cough and pneumonia. The pharmaceutical company Bayer sold it as cough medicine for children. It was often mixed with glycerine, sugar and other flavours, in order to mask its bitter taste, as you can see in this label from the American company Martin H. Smith Company, New York.
Opium didn't always have a bad reputation. Know for hundreds of years in the East for its relaxing and sedative properties, it was adopted by western medicine for a long time as an anaesthetic. It could also be used for asthma or even to calm down newborn babies. With 45% alcohol, it was probably very effective.
And speaking of childrem, one of the best remedies for childhood teeth pains were cocaine drops. Not only did they ease the pain, they only uplifted the humour of those who took them. For singers, teachers and public speakers, cocaine and mint drops were 'indispenable', as they soothed sore throats and gave their vocal cords 'softness and elasticity'. They were also good at cheering these professionals up, helping them reach their maximum performance.
One of the most common ways of taking cocaine with therapeutic purposes was to mix it with wine. These wines had medicinal as well as recreational powers, acting as a sort of antidepressant. Special focus on the Vin Mariani, famous in its day (1865), in part because of Pope Leo XIII. It is said that Pope Leo carried it with him wherever he went and even awarded it a Vatican gold medal!
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