Good health is a basic concern for everyone, no matter what their race, sex, or economic station in life. People often say "to your health" when toasting at special occasions, yet more is involved in the maintenance of good health than just salubrious words. Caring for health tends to involve healthcare professionals and medicines of one form or another. Whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter, most folks will gladly pay whatever is asked of them in exchange for the promise of good or better health.

The museum has several examples of popular prescription and nonprescription preparations that might be found in a small-town pharmacy at the turn of the century or just afterwards. Most of them are for everyday problems such as indigestion or for the treatment of malaria, a common problem in this area at the time.

Of the whole lot, one stands out most, in my mind at least. That is Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. The box advertises it as being suitable for "relieving hot flashes and certain other symptoms" associated with menopause as well as "cramps and other distress" associated with menstruation but "not due to organic disease."

Besides containing various natural plant extracts, the preparation is listed as being 13.5% alcohol, described as being "used solely as a solvent and preservative." The manufacturers predict best results when Lydia E. Pinkhams Vegetable Compound is taken "regularly, through the month." No doubt it was. The preparation must have worked quite well, because the bottle on display is empty!

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #18

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998