I did a post on Victorian painkillers a year ago with every intention of posting this shortly afterward. Unfortunately, I never quite got to it, so here it is!
This is more from Dr. Pierce’s book. In part one I touched on Opium, which was the painkiller of choice and still is. He did write about other painkillers however (but not, interestingly enough, willow tree bark. Hmm, wonder why?). There’s Hyoscyamus, Poison Hemlock, Belladona, Camphor, and Hops. You’d think the last of those would be referring to beer, wouldn’t you? But nope, not always. Instead:
“This is an excellent remedy in wakefulness. . . a bag of leaves, moistened with whisky and placed as a pillow under the head. . .Dose–fourth to three-fourths of a teaspoonful; concentrated principle–Lupulin–one to three grains.”
I don’t know what Lupulin is. Nor do I know what a “grain” is.
As for the others:
“Hyoscyamus (Hyosyamus niger). Herb. Henbane is a powerful narcotice, and unlike Opium does not constipate the bowels, but possesses a laxitive tendency. . . it may be employed. . .in allaying pain, calming the mind, inducing sleep and arresting spasms. . . .Dose–Alcoholic extract, one-half to two grains; fluid extract five to ten drops; concentrated principle–Hyoscyamin–one-twelfth to one-fourth of a grain”
“Poison Hemock (Conimum Maculatum). . .Dose–of fluid extract, two to six drops; solid extract, one-fourth to one-half grain.”
“Belladona (Atropa Belladona). . .The Deadly Nightshade is a valuable, although in lage doses, a powerful agent. . .in medicinal doses, it is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic and diuretic. Excellent in neualgia, epilepsy, mania, amaurosis, whooping-cough, stricture, rigidity of the os uteri, and is a prophylactic (preventive) of Scarlet Fever. Its influence upon the nervous centers is remarkable, relaxing the blood vessels on the surface of the body and inducing capillary congestion, redness of the eye, scarlet appearance of the face, tongue and body. Dose–fluid extract, one-half to one drop; tincture, one to two drops.”
“Camphor. This drug is an anodyne, stimulant, diaphorectic, and in lage doses, narcotic and irritant. . .it is an excellent stimulant for liniments. Dose–Of the powder one to fine grains; tincture, ten to twenty drops, in simple syrup.”
Gotta say, I always considered things like Henbane and Belladonna as poisonous, not medicines. I believe, although I am not entirely certain, that Belladonna played a part in some Victorian-era murder mysteries. If anyone wants more information, here’s a site that makes some references to that time period: http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/atropa_belladonna.htm
Picture borrowed from here