lydia e. pinkham's vegetable compound, 1915-1925

April 181.JPG

14 1/2 ozs.

clear light green bottle (height: 8", width: 3.5", depth: 2")

rough pontil base

obtained at Smiley's Antique Mall in Micanopy, FL for $6

active ingredients: asclepias tuberosa, packera aurea, fenugreek, aletris farinosa, actaea racemosa

Lydia Pinkham's is probably one of the best known patent medicines of the late 19th century. It was indeed created by a woman named Lydia who had made a homemade remedy for "female" problems for years. After financial troubles arose in her personal life, she began selling her compound and created one of the most popular advertising campaigns for patent medicines. She answered questions much like a "dear abby" in the paper and had songs about her product.

How it Works

Lydia Pinkham's Compound contains five main ingredients:

 asclepias tuberosa

asclepias tuberosa

1. asclepias tuberosa (aka "butterfly weed") is a milkweed whose extract is an anti-flatulant (prevention and relief of gas)

2. pakcera aurea (aka "ragwort", "st. john's wort") is a flower whose extract can be used as a uterine tonic for general dysfunction. it is not used much due to its extract causing liver disease.

 packera aurea

packera aurea

3. fenugreek is a plant originating from india which can decrease inflammation

4. aletris farinosa (aka "unicorn root") is a plant that has been used for painful periods

5. actaea acemosa (aka "black cohosh") root extract is used for inflammation and pain especially those associated with menopause. it has been found to contain compounds closely associated with estrogens and is currently one of the top herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms.

 fenugreek

fenugreek

 actaea racemosa

actaea racemosa

 aletris farinosa

aletris farinosa

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The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham

Let us sing (let us sing) of Lydia Pinkham
 The benefactress of the human race.
She invented a vegetable compound,
 And now all papers print her face,

O, Mrs. Brown could do no housework,
 O, Mrs. Brown could do no housework,
She took three bottles of Lydia's compound,
 And now there's nothing she will shirk,
 she will shirk,

Mrs. Jones she had no children,
 And she loved them very dear.
So she took three bottles of Pinkham's
 Now she has twins every year.

Lottie Smyth ne'er had a lover,
 Blotchy pimples caused her plight;
But she took nine bottles of Pinkham's--
 Sweethearts swarm about her each night.

Oh Mrs. Murphy (Oh Mrs. Murphy)
 Was perturbed because she couldn't seem to pee
Till she took some of Lydia's compound
 And now they run a pipeline to the sea!

And Peter Whelan (Peter Whelan)
 He was sad because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia's compound
 And now they grow in clusters 'round his butt.