The Story of Perry Davis and His Painkiller

Perry Davis (1791–1862) was born in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, on July 7, 1791. His parents owned no property and thus did not even show up on tax records at the time of Davis’ birth. By 1837, he had tried, unsuccessfully, to start multiple businesses, leaving him $4500 in debt. In 1840, Davis became so sick that his pain was debilitating. His solution? A mix of alcohol, opiates, and herbs, which would later be dubbed “Perry Davis’ Painkiller.” … More The Story of Perry Davis and His Painkiller

Seton Needle (From the Collection #3)

The Story Seton needles first became popular in the 15th century as a means of producing counter-irritation. This approach to medical treatment believes that the creation of a superficial irritation on the body, through such means as cupping, blistering, or the use of seton needles, will distract the body from other irritations, reducing the primary … More Seton Needle (From the Collection #3)

Laudanum: Freedom from Pain for the Price of Addiction

On Canada Day, the Museum of Health Care unveiled a new exhibit entitled “A Stubborn Illness” about the health of Sir John A. Macdonald and his family. When I first toured the gallery I was struck by the intriguing medicine prescribed to Sir John A. Macdonald’s first wife, Isabella Clark. Visitors seemed to share my sentiment and several have inquired why laudanum is no longer a popular treatment. Further investigation of laudanum and Isabella’s relationship with it reveals that though the drug provided pain relief, its side effects and risks far outweighed its benefits. … More Laudanum: Freedom from Pain for the Price of Addiction