Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Paregoric, and other pleasures.

In one of my online Scrabble games, my plate had these letters: P A G O R I C. It made me think about Paregoric, an old-timey medicine for diarrhea. It was in a brown bottle in our medicine cupboard, and I used to love to open it up and smell it. It smelled like licorice, and when you took a whiff, it was very...oh, I don't know what word to use...maybe refreshing.

In fact, when I thought about it, I could smell it! (I love the way memories can be attached to smells.) Of course, because we live in this internet age, the first thing I did was to look it up on wikipedia.

Sure enough, paregoric contains honey, licorice, flowers of Benjamin, camphor, oil of aniseed, (two licorice-smelling ingredients!) salt of tartar, and spirit of wine. And,

Opium.

Yep. Heroin. In fact, the proper name of Paregoric is "camphorated tincture of opium." It was also used for asthma. It remained available without a prescription in Indiana until 1970 or so, when it became available only by prescription. As of 2010, it is not available, but only because it has never been tested by the FDA.

Also for diarrhea (and Mother generally gave the children this one), was a chalky, probably-related-to-milk-of-magnesia medicine. It had a yellow label, and was "supposed" to be chocolate flavored. It was called Diamagma. Nothing tempts those taste buds like chocolate chalk, especially when you have intestinal distress. I think I would have chosen paregoric every time.

Man, I wish I still had a bottle of heroin paregoric. It smelled really, really good. . .

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