Apr 25, 2006

1849 Cure for Diarrhea

(Toledo, OH) As an 1849 outbreak of cholera hit Northwest Ohio, civic leaders worked hard to keep the citizenry from any knowledge of the arrival of the disease.

After all, the typical response in cases of epidemic disese was a flight to the countryside, which would have disastrous effects on the local economy. The typical response by a city's leaders would be to deny the obvious as long as possible, and keep news of the outbreak of disease very quiet.

That is, unless the disease appeared in a rival town, and then plenty of attention would be given to the epidemic that struck everywhere but here.

The Toledo Blade in the nineteenth century was no stranger to the process of hushing up epidemics, as the paper valued the advertising revenue of its commercial clients. However, in the midst of the "epidemic-that-wasn't," the paper ran an interesting recipe for curing acute diarrhea, one of the hallmarks of cholera:

For Diarrhea
Tincture of Opium.......1/2 ounce
Tincture of Cathechu....1/2 ounce
Spirits of Lavender.......6 drams
Spirits of Camphor........2 drams

DOSE - teanspoonful every hour until relief is procured.

The above prescription is from Dr. Morton, of Sandusky City, furnished to us by a gentleman of this city, who has made use of it with great success. We are informed that is generally used and approved in Sandusky.

Opium, of course, is a potent narcotic, and the cathecu plant produces the betel nut, a potent stimulant more akin to cocaine than caffeine.

I am not sure if the cure worked, but a person could have a heck of a time with this concoction.


Anonymous said...

Zowie! Sounds like John Belushi's fatal speedball concoction.

-Sepp said...

I think the opium was added to help you forget you had the squirts.

historymike said...

Opiates have been long known for their constipative characteristics, Sepp. While opium did nothing to kill the V. cholerae that is the cause of cholera, the addition of an opiate to this remedy may have provided some relief.

Until the cholera killed you, at least...

Hooda Thunkit said...

An opiate, a "powerful stimulant," and two aromatics to speed the other ingredients into your system...

Not much of a cure, but I'm betting, one hell of a buzz.

Probably used more to "quiet" the recepient, thereby providing relief to the victim's family.

Oh yeah, and that "squirts" thing too. . .

At least they died calmly.

Q. Has our "modern medicine" really progressed past this?

BTW, taking opiates regularly constipates you (besides the itchiness, that is).

(A brief flashback to the early 80's, there...).

hamutal wachtel said...

Can you please tell me what the source of this image of King Cholera that you use

hamutal wachtel said...

Can you please tell me what the source of this image of King Cholera that you use