Saturday, September 25, 2010

Uterine Pastilles

This ad from the October 12, 1888 Ypsilanti Commercial advertises a medicine that was reviewed in the fifth edition of Charles Oleson's book, originally published in 1889, "Secret Nostrums and Systems of Medicine: A System of Formulas." In it, he reviews the commercially available "medicines" of the day and says of Sawyer's Uterine Pastilles:

"Through the kindness of a correspondent we secured a sample of the above articles. They come in little oblong blocks, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch square at the end, weighing each on an average about 20 grains. The circular which comes with them is addressed, of course, to the female sex, and is well calculated to produce alarm in the young. It is another sample of the demoralizing documents which unscrupulous quacks are continually circulating among the laity, in order to create alarm and profit by this alarm. The circular, after first dilating upon the physical and mental beauty of women, proceeds to trace these to the sexual, and afterwards paints the horrors of family quarrels, divorce, imbecility, and lunacy which follow in the train of a diseased sexual system. Then comes a description of the diseases peculiar to women, and all of which are curable by using $8 worth of these wonderful pastilles. The most creditable portions of the circular we will reprint in full, as it pertains to the auxiliary treatment to be pursued, and which in reality, we should say, is the treatment of primary importance, if any treatment at all is necessary . . ."

The circular includes direction for use and throws in some extra advice for good measure:

"RULES OF HYGIENE. The patient should use a good, nourishing diet, with plenty of good meat of some kind; beefsteak is the best. Fat meats and pastry should not be used at all; use but little tea or coffee. In case when the patient is incapable of taking the proper amount of food at a time, it will be found beneficial to take but two meals a day for a time, until they can take a full meal. Some graham bread or oat meal can often be used to advantage.

"BATHING. Bathing the entire body should never be done oftener than once a week, and then it should be done in a warm room by bathing and rubbing part of the body at a time with water that feels most agreeable. Sleep should be abundant and an abstinence from all sexual excitement should be strictly adhered to. All surrounding influences which are not conducive to a cheerful, happy state of mind should be done away with.

"DRESS. Care taken in comfortably and properly dressing the body is an important factor in the recovery; the feet and lower limbs should be dressed warmly, and great care taken that the skirts are hung from the shoulders and cause no weight upon the abdomen. Ladies suffering from prolapsus or falling of the womb can never recover unless they observe this strictly."

Oleson's review concludes, "We gave the preparation some little attention, and will give the quack credit for doing comparatively little harm, in a physical sense, when we consider the possibilities. He proceeds evidently on the faithcure principle, and his auxiliary treatment, rather than on the actual medicinal efficacy of his own pastilles. They consist, according to our examination, of nothing but flour, made into a paste and allowed to harden in the form of small oblong blocks."

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