Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Merrell's Female Tonic

I've mentioned on previous occasions the mineral-water craze of the late 1800s. Mineral water spas in places like Eureka Springs and Eldorado Springs were immensely popular, and thousands of people trekked to the mineral-water towns to take the cure. However, it wasn't just mineral water that people thought would heal whatever ailed them. All sorts of tonics were also thought to have curative powers. Even soda pops like Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola were marketed as much for their "pick me up" qualities as for their taste. No matter what ailment might afflict a person, there was bound to be some sort of tonic to relieve the condition, and some tonics, if you believed the advertisements of the day, could relieve virtually any symptom.
An ad from an 1887 Springfield newspaper for Merrell's Female Tonic will illustrate what I'm talking about: Merrell's Female Tonic is prepared solely for the cure of complaints which afflict all womanhood. It gives tone and strength to the uterine organs, and corrects dangerous displacemnts and irregularities. It is of great value in change of life. The use of Merrell's Female Tonic during pregnancy greatly relieves the pains of motherhood and promotes speedy recovery. It assists nature to safely make the critical change from girlhood to womanhood. It is pleasant to the taste and may be taken at all times with perfect safety. Price $1. For Sale By All Druggists.
In truth, of course, Merrell's Female Tonic probably had no curative powers whatsoever, no matter which sex the person taking it happened to be. It was not until the first Food and Drug Laws were passed in 1906 that restrictions began to be placed on the claims that manufacturers could make for their products.

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