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What cures you might just give you pause.

It's a wonder anybody takes pills today, when you read of all the possible side effects they might cause.

A few weeks ago, I had an abscessed wisdom tooth that was giving me fits. My dentist prescribed amoxicillin, and turned me over to an endodontist. When the tooth continued to torture me, even after Part One of a root canal, I asked for something stronger. The endodontist gave me a prescription for clindamycin.

After reading all the dire consequences for that antibiotic, I decided the pain wasn't all that bad after all. I parked the prescription bottle in my medicine cabinet and waited things out, and I'm glad I did. Things got better on their own and I still have my kidneys, liver and all the other organs I've grown to love.

My point is that the warning labels on the drugs we buy today can cause almost as much trouble for the psyche as the ailment for which you get them can do to your body.

Nothing changes much, I guess. The other day, I was admiring my brother-in-law's collection of antique advertising. His collection included a number of ads for patent medicines from the early 1900s. In those days, there were no warnings, just long lists of the many ailments to which one might fall victim.

I can't do justice to them without quoting, in all their marvelous detail, one patent medicine peddler's litany of things that threatened our grandparents and great-grandparents in the gory and glory days of yesteryear. Here's what one Dr. E.C. Abbey of Buffalo, N.Y., calls the Great Specific for Skin Diseases:

"A new and positive cure for Blotched Face, Barber's Itch, Scall-Head, Black-heads or Grubs, Salt Rheum, Papules, Erythema, Nettle Rash, Lichen, Prurigo or Itching, Eczema, Prairie, Seven Year, Camp or Army Itch, Branny Tetter, Ringworm, Liver Spots, Honey Comb Ringworm, Ringworm of Scalp, Bald Spots, Dandruff, Tetter, Itch, Grog Blossom, Tooth Rash, Prickly Heat, Shingles, Scale Disease &c. &c. It destroys Lice, stops Pain and Scars, cures Erysipelas, Frost Bites, Chilblains, neutralizes the Poison in Bites, Stings and from Ivy, instantly stopping all pain and swelling, cures Suppurating Sores, prevents mortification, destroys contagion of Small-Pox, Measles. Scarlatina, Typhoid, Cholera &c., makes specific gargle for Sore Throat, Quinsy, Catarrh, Spongy Gums, Foul Breath, cures offensive Ear Discharges, Leucorrhea, destroys Seat Worms, stops hair from falling, cures Baldness, and is the most universal remedy in the world.''

I think I'm getting either Branny Tetter or Grog Blossom just thinking about it.

The good Dr. Abbey also hyped a book he titled, "The Sexual System and its Derangements'': "It tells about Manhood, Womanhood, Sex, Beauty, Marriage, Nervous and Sexual Debility, languor, tiresome feelings, unsociability, bashfulness, cowardice, irritable temper, forgetfulness, gloomy forebodings, unfitness for business, inability to reason or concentrate the mind or meet the gaze of others, unfixedness of purpose, trembling, staggering, pasty skin, hollow eyes, blunted sense, scanty beard, and a thousand symptoms which usher in Palsy, Idiocy, Insanity and all kinds of diseases.''

I had no idea sex could be so deranged. No wonder so many of our ancestors were lucky to make it to the ripe old age of 47.

Sid McKeen can be reached at mckeensidney@
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Title Annotation:Editorials
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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