Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Mrs Smithurst's "habit of taking a dose"

I came across the following cutting when I was researching some details on the long established Sheffield firm of Reuben Thompson who were

My grandad was manager of the firm in the 1930s and 1940's

Whilst doing this I also came across this cutting from The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 12th April 1900 relating to the death of Ann Smithurst

I'd never heard of this medicine and so a quick net search revealed that it started its life as a medication used in the treatment of cholera but due to its "narcotic properties" it proved to be one of the best selling medicines of the C19th. Its principal ingredients were a mixture of laudenum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform, and so it readily lived up to its claims of relieving pain, as a sedative, and for the treatment of diarrhea.In fact it was highly addictive hence Mrs Smithurst's "habit of taking a dose"

Sadly the mixture was diluted throughout the C20th. The cannabis was removed from the formulation, and the amount of opiates in the medicine were progressively reduced. Shame really!

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