So I “borrowed” (re: stole) this book from my stepfather years ago. I’ve mentioned it several times in blogs, I believe The People’s Common Sense Medical Adviser in Plain English or Medicine Simplified by R. V. Pierce, M.D. It’s the third edition revised. After years of thumbing through it, I finally decided to google the guy. Wow! He was famous! This isn’t some obscure text by some obscure guy. He was not only a doctor, but a state senator and a congressman. He operated the World’s Dispensary Medical Association. His book went into 11 editions and sold up to 2 million copies. Cool!
He also had a hospital:
The book did a lot to sell his medicines, which are said to have contained mostly alcohol/opiates. But I have the book and while he is peddling the stuff quite a bit, there is tons more information in it than just that. It wasn’t just an advertisement. His book went into 11 editions and sold up to 2 million copies. Cool! Because of this, there are many different editions available on Alibris.
For those of you who don’t want to go to the trouble of buying it, I’m going to use a few blogs to share some of the more interesting (to me) information. Mine is the 1876 edition, for anyone wondering when this information would pertain.
That’s what he called ‘em anyway. Over the course of my many years of Victorian study, I’ve often wondered how much opium they would use for illness. We know that it was readily available at a druggist/chemist, often known to us a Laudanum. But how much??? So here it is. I’m quoting it verbatim. I don’t believe that there are any copyright issues from an 1876 text.
“Opium(Papaver Somniferum). Opium is a stimulant, anodyne and narcotic, according to the size of the dose administered. Dose–Of the dry powder, one-fourth, one-half to one grain; tincture (Laudanum), five to fifteen drops; camphorated tincture (Paregoric), one0half to one teaspoonful; Morphine, one-eigth to one-fourt grain; Dover’s Powder three to five grains. ”
He mentions Morphine–Morphia–in the previous (very long) paragraph:
“When the stomach is very sensitive and will not tolerate their internal adminstration, one-sixth of a grain of Morphia can be inserted beneath the skin by means of a hypodermic syringe. Relief is more quickly experienced, and the anodyne effect is much more lasting, than when taken into the stomach”.
Painkillers for children:
“Children can safely take only minute doses. Their nervous system is remarkable susceptible to this class of medicines”
Finally, he seemed to understand on some level that people developed a tolerance for painkillers:
“An individual accustome to the use of Anodynes, requires a much larger dose to procure relief, than one who is not. ”