There have been many changes in our medicines and pharmaceutical goods and treatments over the years. I'd like to say thank you to Norm, for providing most of the pictures for this page. Although mostly from before my time, some of these techniques are still used today.


Picture of a leechLeeches are segmented worms that live mainly in fresh water and feed on animal blood. They have two suckers, one at each end of the body, and were applied by doctors in the past (and are beginning to be used again today) to suck blood or other fluids from the body. When feeding, they release an anaesthetic to prevent their hosts from feeling them and an anticoagulant enzyme, hirudin that thins the blood so that it flows more freely.

Bayer's Heroin

Picture of a bottle of Bayer's Heroin Between 1890 and 1910 heroin was sold as a non-addictive substitute for morphine. It was also used to treat children suffering with a strong cough, such as from bronchitis or catarrh.
Bayer are of course an ethical and reputable supplier of pharmaceutical goods today.

Metcalf Cola Wine

Picture of bottle of Metcalf Cola Oil Metcalf Coca Wine was one of a huge variety of wines with cocaine on the market. Everybody used to say that it would make you happy and it would also work as a medicinal treatment. Coca Wine was marketed as a "pleasant tonic and invigorator".

Cocaine Toothache Drops

Cocaine toothache drops were great for making children with a toothache smile again.Cocaine Toothache Drops were very popular for children in 1885. Not only did the cocaine relieve the pain, it made the children very happy!

Mariani Wine

Picture of Mariana wine bottle Another Coca wine,Mariani was the most famous Coca wine of it's time. Pope Leo XIII used to carry a bottle with him all the time. He awarded Angelo Mariani (the producer) a Vatican gold medal.


Picture of bottle of MaltineProduced by the Maltine Manufacturing Company of New York, it was suggested that you should take a full glass with or after every meal, for best effects from the coca wine. Children should only take half a glass.


Picture of bottle of Coca-Cola, which was once claimed to be medicinal Although Coca-cola was never sold as a pharmaceutical item, it was promoted as being able to "make you feel good". It did once contain about nine milligrams of cocaine per glass, but in 1903 this was removed. It still retained the cola flavouring, but instead of fresh Coca leaves, Coca-Cola used "spent" leaves - the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process, containing small cocaine traces.



Vapor-Ol tablets each contained 40% alcohol
plus 3 grams of opiumAs an asthma treatment, at 40% alcohol plus 3 grams of opium per tablet, if this didn't cure you, you didn't really care! This may have provided a unique method of essentially "smoking" opium. The volatile liquid was placed in a pan that was heated by a small kerosene lamp.


Dragees contained menthol and were claimed to be great for singers for smoothing the voiceAll successful stage actors, singers, teachers and preachers - and maybe even newspaper boys - had to have mentholated cocaine for best performance. Dragees were great for 'smoothing the voice'.

Stickney and Poor's Paregoric

Stickney and Poor's Paregoric had similar applications to Vapor-Ol. 
    It contained large amounts of opium and alcohol.Stickney and Poor's Paregoric was a mixture of opium and 46% alcohol. It was used in the early 1900s to control diarrhea, as an expectorant and cough medicine, to calm fretful children, and to rub on infants' gums to counteract the pain from teething.
I'm sure this would make them sleep well - not only the Opium, but also the alcohol.

Asthma Cigarettes

Asthma cigarettes were used to control asthma attacks, hay fever, head colds and various other problems.Those who still enjoy smoking may like to think back to this product... anti-asthma cigarettes. Their distributers claimed they helped relieve asthma attacks, hay fever, bad breath, throat diseases, head colds and bronchial irritations. All-in-all, a very useful and versatile product.

Strychnine Sulphate

Strychnine Sulphate was available for use for nervous conditions and bladder and heart conditions..And lastly, if none of the previous worked, well... this bottle of strychnine brings a whole new meaning to the term "alternative medicine". This substance is still used, under medical supervision for problems with the nervous system, bladder, heart, and reproductive organs but its main use now is as a pesticide.


I was loth to include this item, as it still holds so much pain for so many people. However, here it is:
Thalidomide was first marketed in 1957 in West Germany under the trade-name Contergan. It was prescribed as a sedative and for anxiety, tension, insomnia, gastritis, nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women, as an over-the-counter drug. Over several years, about 10000 infants world-wide were born with malformed limbs, of which only about 50% survived. The long limbs were not developed or presented as stumps. Other effects included deformed eyes, hearts, and alimentary and urinary tracts, blindness and deafness.
As a result, much tighter controls over drugs have since been introduced.

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