1901 – Wine of Cardui – For Most All That Ails Women.

Chattanooga Medicine CompanyAdvertisement for Cardui






From Mary Braswell’s “Looking Back” column in the Albany (Georgia) Herald dated April 27, 2014: The Chattanooga Medicine Company encouraged mothersĀ  to give their daughters, beginning at age 12, one dose of Wine of Cardui each morning to head off female problems. Such care was needed to help a girl “develop into attractive womanhood and equip her for the duties of a wife and mother.” The medicine was available at local drug stores for $1 per bottle. This was May, 1901.

Why couldn’t we have left well enough alone. Women once had the perfect prescription for menstrual relief in Wine of Cardui. Now good Baptist women, and other fine Christian ladies all over the world have to hide in a closet and hit on a couple of snorts of wine straight from the neck of the bottle to ward off the miseries.

Back then men had bouts of melancholy and women had the vapors. The vapors were defined as attacks of hysteria, mania, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, withdrawal syndrome, fainting, mood swings or PMS, all brought on by internal emanations. The Wine of Cardui was good for all.

Main ingredients of the wine were potassium (51.9%), salt (16 %) and alcohol (20.3%).

If you don’t think 23.3% alcohol will cure most that ails you, your drinking skills and knowledge are sadly lacking. That much alcohol in a mixture will cure you, make you rich and pretty (or handsome) and it will turn you into the smartest person in the room. All these wondrous things will occur to you right before you take a face-down, nose-dive to the floor. Pray the carpets are thick.

Wine of Cardui was introduced by the company because their old solid money maker in a bottle, Black Draught Laxative Product fell upon hard times in the Civil War years. They lost all their northern customers during that time. Wine of Cardui saved them. It also helped them strongly compete with a product made in the north called “Female Complaints.” I was born fifty years too late. I could have been a great customer service representative for “Female Complaints.” I’ve heard a million of ’em.

I like their advertising keenness and depth of perception. Their testimonials from happy customers are uplifting. One ad proclaimed, “Woman’s modesty and ignorance of danger often cause her to endure pains and suffer torture rather than consult a physician about important subjects. Pains in the head, neck, back, hips, limbs and lower bowels at monthly intervals indicate alarming derangements.

I can just imagine if you told today’s woman she was ignorant and deranged you would need a case of the larger size bottles of Wine of Cardui to help you recuperate from your bodily derangements.

The ad goes on to say, “McElree’s Wine of Cardui is a harmless bitter wine without intoxicating qualities (apparently their drinking skills and knowledge were sadly lacking). Taken at the proper time it relieves pain, corrects derangements, quiets nervousness and cures Whites, Falling of the Womb and Suppressed or too Frequent Menses.

I’m not sure what “Whites” refers to. It could be white folks who need curing or it could mean white mouth patch ailments or milk leg which was a type of thrombosis. I also do not know why they capitalized certain words and not others.

One lady said her doctor described her back pain as being caused by, “Falling of the Womb.” He had to replace the womb a dozen times with instruments but Wine of Cardui completely cured her of the womb falling disorder.

Another woman testified, “My womb kept coming down. After I took Wine of Cardui I was well from it and I have never had falling of the womb since, even after childbirth.”

I’m glad the womb falling incidents have cleared up over the years. I’m pretty excitable and if I were in a room with a woman and her womb fell I would be a nervous wreck and totally useless.

I could, however manage to pour some wine down her throat and if that’s all it takes that makes me almost a doctor…..in 1900.

Medicine WagonMedicine Bottle




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