Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club

A Sure Cure for Pain

A mid-1800s pain remedy recipe

While sorting through some of the ephemera I have collected over the years related to bottle collecting, I recently ran across a scrap of paper that I acquired at a farm auction south of Sussex, Wisconsin.   The hand writing style and quill or fountain pen ink indicate it probably dates to the mid-19th century.  While interesting enough for me to save it at the time, it takes on additional relevance as I deal with the aches and pains of arthritis in my advancing years.  As many of our club members are in the same general age bracket, I thought I would share with you the old recipe that is on this piece of paper.  You might find it quite useful but probably pretty dangerous as well.

It reads exactly as spelled by the original writer with my comments in parentheses:

                                        Pain Extracter
Alcohol one gallon    (the universal pain killer)
Concentrated liquid of ammona   2lbs    (Yike’s ammonia!)
Oil of assafras  2 ounces      (Undoubtedly, sassafras)
Oil of rosemary  2 ounces
Laudanum  2 ounces        (Laudanum was eventually identified as highly addictive as it is tincture of opium.)
Cayenne pepper 1/2 pound
Spirits of camphor 1/2 pound
Mix in a pan let it simmer a little on the stove
Great care must be taken that it not strike fire      (The fumes would wipe out the whole population of Sussex in 1860.)
Stir a little while on the stove
Kork it up in bottles air tight.

As you can see this is a very large recipe.   This may have been concocted by a local druggist at the time or by someone that fashioned themselves as a master of home remedies.  The ingredients were commonly used in various quack medicines of the time.  Most of the ingredients are still readily available but good luck finding a source for the laudanum.  I highly suggest that you have available a very strong exhaust vent before any simmering of this concoction be conducted and check with your local municipality on the days that you can legally burn just in case.

Interestingly, there are no instructions as to dosage.  Common sense would seem to dictate that the “Pain Extractor” was to be applied externally to the affected part giving pain.  In any event, the remedy undoubtedly had an intense pungence and created a sensation of intense heat to the area of the body to which it was applied.

In all seriousness, do not try this at home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Author: Henry Hecker
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