Patented love potions and snake oil?

I don’t think so

Walking through the recently developed Kings Cross area of London yesterday I came across this old Victorian advert.

‘Patented love potions and snake oil. Instantaneous cure for all afflictions. Good for man and beast’!

Just because it was patented it does not mean it is good!

The pharmacy must have been awash with dodgy cure-alls back in the Victorian era when restrictions of claims and ingredients were not so well regulated.

My mother told the (true) story of  my great grandfather’s friend, left widowed with 8 children, he used Laudanum which was a mixture of opiates and alcohol, to get his children to sleep at night!

Laudanum and Godfrey’s cordial. One Manchester druggist admitted selling a half gallon of the market leader, Godfrey’s Cordial, and up to six gallons of a generic equivalent, euphemistically called ‘quietness’, each week.

Apothecary John Quincy, in his ‘A Compleat English Dispensatory’ (first published in 1718), noted: “A very mischievous way some nurses have got, of giving their children this medicine to make them sleep, more for their own ease than anything else.”

Sadly there were deaths and addiction even and in 1909 the British Medical Association moved against unregulated medicines with hidden formulations and prompted the creation of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain in 1919, still active as the industry’s self-regulatory body for the marketing of ‘self-care products’.

Beware of patented love potions!

When did you first come across the word patented?

Research thanks to Briony Hudson a pharmacy historian, curator, lecturer.

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