Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Miracle Cure All?

The Evening News, Friday February 26, 1897 - Page 3
Source: Trove
1898 (2)
" 5250 Incurable Discharged from Hospitals and Given Up by Doctors have been CURED by DR. WILLIAMS'S PINK PILLS"

Recently my Aunty Jean was telling me that she was a small, thin and pale young girl, until she started taking Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People, which made her grow.  
This intrigued me, so I decided to find out more!

The wonder drug was sold from the 1890s to the 1950s(1) in over 80 countries around the world. 

"The Pills, to begin with, give strength purity and richness to the blood, and thus root out a whole host of diseases which depend on poor or viated blood" (2) 

There are pages and pages of reported cures! In 1986, a 40 page book was dedicated to the stories of cures. It makes very interesting reading.

Aunty Jean was about 10 years old, when her mother sent a family photo to Grandma Pilgrim.  When Grandma Pilgrim wrote back, she commented that Jean was too little and thin!

Don, Jean, Joy and Rob
1948
Was this the photo that my grandmother sent to her mother?

Gran promptly took Aunty Jean to the chemist (who was also a trained doctor) and he prescribed Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People.

A year later, Aunty Jean does look to have grown
 considerably in comparison to her elder brother.
Could the Pink Pills be the reason?
Source: Science Museum London

The range of reports is quite impressive; from the soldier who was discharged with "incurable paralysis" who was "made perfectly well by our pills" to the young girl who was "gulping up large quantities of blood" but through "the use of the pills, gradually rose from a bed of suffering and sickness until she once again attained robust young womenhood". (3)

The list of ailments purportedly cured is extraordinary;
Anaemia, Asthma, Chlorosis or Green Sickness, Dizziness, Heart Palpitation, Nervousness, Headache, Loss of Appetite, Indigestion and Dyspepsia, La Grippe, Eruptions and Pimples, Sick Headache, Pale or Sallow Complexion, Swelling, General Debility, Rheumatism, Depression, Insomnia, Paralysis, Muscular Weakness, Shortness of Breathe, Locomotor Ataxia, Neuralgia, Chronic Erysipeias, Kidney Troubles, Catarrh of the Stomach, Nervous Fits, St Vitus' Dance, Consumption of the Bowels and Lungs, Swelled Glands, Scrofula, Fever Sores, Irritability of Temper, Rickets, Fevers, Acute Diseases, All Female Weakness, Tardy or Irregular Periods, Leucorrhoea, Suppression of the Menses, Loss of Vital Forces, Loss of Memory, Ringing in the Ears and Hysteria.

Aunty Jean believes that she took the pink pills for a couple of years.  Did they work?  She believes that she grew substantially after taking them.
Jean and Joy in 1953
Do you think the pink pills made a difference?

1895 Canadian Advertisement
Source: www.openlibrary.org

So what was in Dr Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People?
The recipe was a secret but according to the Kansas Historical society, it seems they were iron oxide, epsom salts and magnesium sulfate based.

This post was prompted by Sepia Saturday.  Please click to read other posts.

Sources
(1) According to advertisements in Australian newspapers as researched on http://trove.nla.gov.au/
(2) As stated by the Manager of  Dr Williams' Medicine Company and reported in the London Newspapers and repeated in the Healesville Guardian and Yarra Glen Guardian, Saturday 20th August 1898, page 3 - Trove
(3) Book: Dr Williams pink pills for pale people - published 1986

24 comments:

  1. I love the name and slogan those pills had. The cures sound unbelievable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they certainly had a great marketing campaign!

      Delete
  2. The pink pills look so pretty, probably a drawback when you consider how small children love to eat sweets! It would be interesting to find out if they had any detriment to health, or if they were the cure all they purported to be. I wonder if any research was ever done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I looked for any scientific research but couldn't find any either way. I really don't believe they were the cure all they purport to be but they must have been of benefit to many or they would not have been sold for over 50 years!

      Delete
  3. Oboy -- those pink pills! I can't for one minute think they did anything...but at least they didn't harm your Aunty...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have always been low of iron and taken iron tablets since puberty. I recently had an iron infusion and the difference was miraculous! So therefore if people were low in iron, then I can see that the pink pills would have made a difference!

      Delete
  4. Oh I could have done with some of those pills. I’m still tiny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha Ha Ha! My daughter is also a shorty!

      Delete
  5. The iron oxide is probably what made those pink pills pink. Magnesium actually does support healthy bone structure & proper muscle and nerve functions, so who knows? They may actually have helped your Aunty Jean a bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well she believes that they did. Boys tend to grow at a higher rate as adolescents but Aunty Jean certainly seems to have grown at a higher rate than her elder brother!

      Delete
  6. Love the sweet Canadian advertisement! I must ask my aunt if she ever heard of them in NZ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I had to include it. It is so cute :)

      If they were in Australia then I think that they would have made it to NZ as well.

      Delete
  7. Absolutely wonderful.. And that reminds me of the bottle of Fluid Magnesia my mother would bring out when I was out of sorts !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard about that before.

      My son had severe allergies as a child and a naturopath gave him Magnesium powder to take. It did seem to work.

      Delete
  8. Where, oh where are those Pink Pills for Pale People when you need them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. I think that children (particularly girls) would have been very happy to take the pretty looking tablets.

      Delete
  9. Bravo! The things that chemistry could "cure" certainly inspired inventive druggists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Yes! There were so many con artists out there but the pink pills must have had some benefit or they wouldn't have been around for over 50 years!

      Delete
  10. With the list of ailments it cures, who would need anything else BUT Pink Pills for Pale People?! I wonder what they contained.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Purportedly Iron Oxide and Magnesium Sulphate! I had never heard of many of the ailments that they were supposed to cure.

      Delete
  11. I need a bottle, send one immediately. Pale Face of Huddersfield.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha Ha Ha. Yep, I think I will need them too this week!

      Delete
  12. I was sickly thin as a boy because I was taking a great growth spurt. They gave me geritol tablets that smelled just like the commercial feed that we feed the hogs. I think that was protein in the hog feed.

    ReplyDelete