At the monthly meeting of the West End Historical Society held Tuesday, March 20, at the Congregational Church, collector and historian Jack Zaccardo shared a program on patent medicines. A patent medicine, also known as a nostrum is a commercial product advertised as a purported over-the-counter medicine without regard to its effectiveness.
Zaccardo said that many early “medicines” contained cocaine, heroin and the like as there were no restriction on those ingredients at that time. In 1906 the Better Drug Act was passed but it was not until the 1940s that things began to get better as far as safer ingredients.
Many early medicines were just homemade remedies bottled up without much regard to santitation. Many of the medicines also contained alcohol and just made people “feel better” but were no cure. After being used for medicine many bottles had a second life in the bootlegging industry.
Out of desperation for many they would take anything if they thought it would heal them even taking creosote as a remedy.
With later regulation and pill- making machines the home remedies eventually died out, but the beautiful and interesting bottles remain for those lucky enough to dig one up!
At the next montly meeting of the WEHS, Thursday, April 17, a movie from the late 1950s early 1960s of La Push will be featured. The half-hour film documents Harley’s Resort and other fishing activities of that time. The meeting starts at noon at the Congregational Church and lunch is available for $7. Everyone is welcome.