4 Dangerous Drugs Doctors Gave Your Grandparents

Written by Randy Fritz, co-creator with Diana Herrington at Real Food for Life

Many of the drugs that we know are illegal and dangerous, like heroin, were once easily bought at the corner drugstore and recommended by doctors. When you see the old advertisements for these substances, sometimes you cringe, and sometimes you canít help but laugh!

This is why I am cautious with any “new” health advance that has not yet stood the test of time. I will explain more on this later.

Many of the medicines of the 19th and early 20th century contained psychoactive drugs – alcohol, opium, and cocaine. Doctors didnít know how these drugs worked but they gave some small relief since you were actually slightly high or drunk. Meanwhile nature took it’s course and if it could, the body naturally healed as it would have anyway without the medicine.

1.† Heroin

The German company Bayer, which now produces one of the most popular pain medications on earth, aspirin, also developed heroin and sold it at your local drugstore.

In fact, when a chemist first developed ASA (aspirin) and presented it to Bayer, management was not interested right away.† They were more excited with another drug they had rediscovered – diacetylmorphine. They trademarked this drug ďheroinĒ because early testers said it made them feel heroisch (a German word for heroic).

Heroin was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. Medicines containing “smack” were sold in stores just as aspirin is today. The American Medical Association gave heroin its stamp of approval in 1907.

According to a Bayer watchdog group, Bayer promoted heroin for use in children suffering from coughs, colds and “irritation” as late as 1912.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup contained 65 mg of morphine, another opiate analgesic, per fluid ounce and was used “for children teething.”

This seems amazing to us now because we know so much more, but people somehow survived! The body is amazing.

Natural Alternatives:

For coughs:† Honey and finely ground black pepper is a time tested ayurvedic remedy for cough and sore throat used for centuries.

For colds: Many powerfoods are rich in antioxidants necessary to prevent colds and infections before they happen. They also support the immune system once you have a cold. There are many examples:

  • Broccoli: is a rich source of the premier antioxidant nutrientóvitamin C,† plus the flavonoids that allow vitamin C to recycle effectively, plus carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants. Read the 9 Health Benefits of Broccoli here.
  • All alkaline foods: create balance in the body.† An acidid body is an inflamed, unsettled body with unbalanced immunity. Alkaline-forming foods include lemons, spinach, zucchini, watermelon, millet, almonds, and raspberries and even weeds like dandelions. Each one of these foods offers a host of powerful health benefits which you can enjoy with no long list of side effects.

Next page: Cocaine

2. Cocaine

In the US, cocaine was sold over the counter until 1914 and was commonly found in products like toothache drops, dandruff remedies, and medicinal tonics.

Coca leaves, which can be transformed into the more concentrated cocaine, have been used for centuries in native cultures in South America for day to day remedies and religious ceremonies.

In America and Europe, the coca leaves were combined with wine ďto invigorate the mind and decrease depression and sleepiness.Ē It was suggested that you should take a full glass with or after every meal. Children should only take half a glass.

Coca-Cola was invented in the late 1800s as a “coca wine,” but the alcohol and cocaine were later replaced with syrup and coca leaves, respectively.

It was considered “a valuable brain tonic, and a cure for all nervous affections — sick head-ache, neuralgia, hysteria, melancholy.”

Natural alternatives for energy and mental clarity:

Green tea: the second most popular beverage on earth enlivens the body, mind, and spirit without overstimulating it. It also helps with weight loss, cancer and heart disease,

All fruits are smart carbs and thus contain natural sugars for energy, but are full of the micronutrients which actually make you smarter and balanced instead of just high on white sugar and chemicals.

Next page: Opium

3.† Opium

Opium poppy seed (from which heroin is processed) has been cultivated for food, anesthesia, and ritual purposes since at least the new stone age.

In the 18th century, opium was found to be a good remedy for nervous disorders: to quiet the mind, help the insane, and to treat insomnia.† In the American Civil War, the Union Army used 2.8†million ounces of opium tincture and powder and about 500,000 opium pills. It was called “God’s Own Medicine.”

Until 1970, Paregoric, whose main ingredient was powdered opium, could be purchased at a pharmacy without a medical prescription.

Next page: Cigarettes

4.† Cigarettes

Cigarettes with unknown contents claimed to provide temporary relief for everything from asthma to colds, canker sores, and bad breath. They were “not recommended for children under 6.” As the effects of nicotine became more apparent, cigarette companies had to be more subtle in their marketing.

During World War II, soldiers were issued free cigarettes, courtesy of the tobacco companies, resulting in millions of nicotine-addicted G.I.s returning home after the war.

Natural approaches to asthma:

Asthma is primarily an inflammatory condition so any whole foods that decreases inflammation helps.

Studies have shown that intakes of apples, tomatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables and generally lots of fresh fruit and vegetables reduces the prevalence of asthma.

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and asthma. Omega-3s are found in flax seeds, walnuts, beans and winter squash. Each of these foods have amazing additional benefits – again without side effects.

But We Know Better Now, Donít We?

We certainly have come a long way since the era of patent medicines. Our understanding of how chemistry interacts with our bodies is increasing daily. But is it far enough?† Future generations may well laugh at our present day advertisements for Viagra and sleep medication and we already cringe at the destructive effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

I donít want to pick on any doctors specifically or in general. They just tend to represent (sometimes unknowingly) the established medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Sometimes the same thing happens in the natural health field; new discoveries which at the beginning sound like the cure for everything turn out to be not appropriate for everyone and in some cases are even harmful.

As I said before though, I am very cautious of any new discovery that has not been verified by time. By “time” I donít mean months or years of testing but rather decades or centuries of use!

At Real Food For Life, we understand that peak health has been enjoyed by millions over the centuries using only simple whole foods traditional in their culture. We call these power foods and they are probably in your kitchen right now. Read about the 5 Sources of Power in Powerfoods.

It is up to us to take responsibility for our own health and educate ourselves. We canít expect a government organization to do it all for us.

This is what many of the people are doing within Care2: learning and sharing and participating. We congratulate you on your efforts.

Iím sure you know of other deadly medications and procedures that have been offered to the public. Please leave your comments below.

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86 comments

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Thanks

Peggy Ausmus
Peggy A3 years ago

Thanks for the reminder!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

Codeine linctus for coughs...mmmmmmm!

Jude Hand
Judith Hand4 years ago

Very interesting, thanks. I was told that my great grandfather, a doctor, was addicted to opium and that that was not an unusual case. I've always found the Coca-Cola history interesting. As a child with a lot of respiratory illnesses, I remember my main cough medicine was "ETH&C" (Elixor Terpinhydrate and Codeine). I certainly slept well and I guess am lucky that a habit wasn't formed by it.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

amazingly intriguing and informative. loved it. thanks so much!

Dale Overall

A lot of medications over history have been trial and error and often we are the guinea pigs until long term studies can prove or disprove whether or not the product is actually safe. There are some medications that have saved countless lives while other medications add to the daily burden.

With everything where profit is involved there will be abuse in certain cases by manufacturers.

In many cases there are natural alternatives but it depends on a given situation. Certainly do a lot of research and know about the side effects as there are many times when one has to go with a prescription.

Siti R.
Siti R4 years ago

i wonder we have learn anything at all from the past... thanks, will re -post!

Adrienne A.
Adrienne A4 years ago

If we are going to point to toxicities, we cannot ignore the things we "like" just because they come under a different "medicinal" heading. Black pepper, for instance, is a well known carcinogenic. As is basil. Oregano and thyme in large amounts are poison; small doses of their oils are highly toxic. (They also kill the HIV virus better than chlorine bleach.) Regular daily use of peppermint tea can lead to Irregular heartbeat, sooner or later depending on amount and individual constitution. Oddly enough, heroin does not kill people or even destroy organs except in cases of overdose, addictive nature aside. Although cannabis indica/sativa was not mentioned here, it is one herb with a zero toxicity rating according to the US agricultural data base, and the only addictive quality is psychological, not physical as it is with caffiene, heroin and a few others things humans use for medicine and/or recreationally. In our zest for health and zeal for avoiding the products of Big Pharma, let us not skimp on personal research.

Adrienne A.
Adrienne A4 years ago

If we are going to point to toxicities, we cannot ignore the things we "like" just because they come under a different "medicinal" heading. Black pepper, for instance, is a well known carcinogenic. As is basil. Oregano and thyme in large amounts are poison; small doses of their oils are highly toxic. (They also kill the HIV virus better than chlorine bleach.) Regular daily use of peppermint tea can lead to Irregular heartbeat, sooner or later depending on amount and individual constitution. Oddly enough, heroin does not kill people or even destroy organs except in cases of overdose, addictive nature aside. Although cannabis indica/sativa was not mentioned here, it is one herb with a zero toxicity rating according to the US agricultural data base, and the only addictive quality is psychological, not physical as it is with caffiene, heroin and a few others things humans use for medicine and/or recreationally. In our zest for health and zeal for avoiding the products of Big Pharma, let us not skimp on personal research.

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M4 years ago

Medicine, like everything in this world, in this life is about evolution. Modern society believes in advancement- but have we really? How come there are more cures from way, way back the sages of the past practised that are ,today, being revived???
There is a learning curve in everything, science and medicine and even education. Life is about a never ending learning process. Society is evolving into something so different from the typical nuclear family. Attitudes, tastes and economics changes all the time. Pharmaceuticals are also into an on-going experiment with humanity's health. This will never stop for as long as there is money to be made. It is all about profits. What's good today will be proven bad tomorrow, all for the sake of profit.