For Ladies Only

You would be doing your
family or friend a great service if you could provide
medical advice that would
keep them from
being treated by a doctor.

For hundreds of years the medical profession believed your health was based on maintaining a balance of the "four humours."

If you got sick, your doctor would engage in a process to balance your humours. You would be required to drink concoctions that made you vomit and increase your bowel and bladder activity. Your doctor would apply hot burning plasters to your body, feet or head to make you perspire and they would also bleed you by lancing a vein to drain your blood.

Bloodletting was used for every disease and injury. The theory was to produce noticeable results. Physicians believed they were drawing "bad blood" which caused the disease. The indiscriminate bleeding was bad enough; however, the amount of blood taken was shocking.

Most doctors recommended bleeding until the patient passed out. It has been reported that George Washington was hastened to a premature death by his doctors use of bleeding during a minor illness.

This was the process used to balance your humours. Doctors believed the more violently you reacted to this form of treatment, the better chance you had to get well.

In the late 1400's, about 150 years after the plague (black death) killed almost one third of Europe's population, doctors began to use mercury, antimony, and sulfuric acid in the concoctions they made their patients drink.

These chemicals are extremely toxic and poisonous. They would cause horrible reactions if you drank them. Since the prevailing medical opinion was that the healing process was improved greatly when the patient reacted violently, these poisons became very popular with doctors. They ultimately formed the foundation upon which the medical establishment treated its patients for over 400 years - - lasting well into the 1900's.

Basically it went like this - - you got sick and your doctor poisoned you. If you got well, they considered their treatment successful. If you didn't get well, they would continue to poison and bleed you - - until the combination of your illness and the poison killed you. Many patients survived in spite of this, which of course the doctors attributed to their treatment. The longer you were sick, the greater the odds were that you would not survive the doctor's treatment.

By the time the Mayflower sailed for America, Calomel was a popular medicinal drink. Made with mercury, it was prescribed by doctors for many different illnesses. Physicians increased the dose when the patient did not get well or failed to respond in an appropriate manner, further hastening the patients demise.

For over 400 years their organizations attacked anyone, including any doctor within their ranks, who so much as suggested that this treatment regime was detrimental to a patients health.

Herbal remedies and herbal practitioners were viciously attacked by the medical establishment for being ineffective and ignorant and for practicing unsafe medicine - - while doctors poisoned, bled and killed patients by the 100's of thousands.

During this period, distrust of doctors was widespread and not without justification. Physicians and surgeons killed almost as many patients as they saved. The medical profession relied on visible symptoms in diagnosing diseases and had difficulty in distinguishing one illness from another. Doctors tended to treat only the patients symptoms by using accepted drugs, many of which were poison - - which produced the required results - - perspiration, vomiting, diarrhea and a semi comatose state from bleeding.

Physicians considered female reproductive organs the source of almost all female illness. Gynecologists did not hesitate to remove ovaries for little or no reason. The mortality rate for this barbaric practice was as high as 40 percent.

By removing a woman's reproductive organs, the primary source of monthly variations in hormone levels was eliminated. Eliminating hormones that affected mood changes and sexual desires, eliminated the "hysteria", ergo hysterectomy.

This was the state of medicine in 1875 that encouraged Lydia E. Pinkham to begin producing an herbal formula for women in her kitchen in Lynn Massachusetts. Lydia Estes Pinkham was born on February 9, 1819, the tenth of twelve children of Rebecca and Billy Estes. On May 17, 1893, at the age of sixty-four, eighteen years after she created the only dietary supplement that survived the patent medicine era, Lydia died.

The success of her "Vegetable Compound" propelled the company named after her to unprecedented success. Her herbal supplement is the only product, with some minor changes, that survived the patent medicine era. The primary ingredient in her formula is Black cohosh, a native American herb. Black Cohosh is probably one of the most studied herbs in use today. For over 100 years clinical trials have been conducted on this herb in the United States and in Germany. It is now known as the "woman's herb".

Time of Your Life, Inc. has published an exact replica of a book originally published around 1915, by the Lydia E. Pinkham company. It is a self medication health and maintenance manual for women titled.


The textbook is also an obvious blatant self promotion tool used to sell Lydia E. Pinkham products. However, considering the status of medicine in America during this time period, it most likely fulfilled a need not provided by a visit to your friendly - - but not so safe - - doctor.

It provides a window into the prevailing medical knowledge and healing concepts that existed in America during the early 1900's. It is fun reading, sometimes it borders on the hilarious and at other times it is exceptionably relevant in a common sense sort-of-way.

Remember, penicillin has only been available since the 1940's.

With the use of chemical medicine that began in the late 1400's, a visit to a doctor had the potential to be detrimental to your health and your longevity. You would be doing your family or friend a great service if you could provide medical advice that would keep them from being treated by a doctor.

"Long before television, even before radio, a dynamic woman from Lynn, Massachusetts achieved a level of notoriety that even today would be considered extraordinary. Her name was Lydia E. Pinkham, and she did this by providing a forum for women to obtain information about women's health and women's issues."

She was the late 1800s version of Dr. Ruth and Ann Landers. She was a pioneer who was praised by women, yet often ridiculed by the male dominated "establishment", whose feathers she often ruffled by her outspoken common-sense approach to women's health and sexual matters.

Lydia is, however, most famous for her herbal formula for women. A product that she began selling in 1875, which has been used by millions of women.

Herbal formulations sold today for PMS and hot flashes owe much of their acceptance to the amazing efforts of Lydia and her company.

The effort Lydia made to provide women with an alternative to the poor medical services available in the late 1800s, lives on in our modern day version of Lydia's vision,

The editor


June 2001
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 898-9668