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Saltwater Sean: Bottle Discovery, Nerviline

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I was able to get out for one last adventure before a rainy weekend ahead of us. I found a bunch of stuff, including a peculiar old “quack medicine bottle” (Nerviline) from the early 1900s.

Saltwater Sean

If you enjoy watching old-style western television programs, you may occasionally have come across a plot involving a travelling medicine wagon and a person posing as a “Doc”. This could be regarded as the start of marketing campaigns in the early 1900s. The “doctor,” who was in charge, would send representatives to neighbouring towns to promote the show, hang banners and posters, and pique interest in the wonder drug that would be displayed. Some of these townsfolk would seem to be suffering from a condition that the elixir would miraculously cure. Despite the fact that these medications were very popular, the ingredients were not controlled. The majority of these elixirs contained morphine, cocaine, and significant amounts of alcohol; some had alcohol content of over 30%. A “Cure For What Ails You”

At the time, Nerviline, one of these medications, was promoted as a treatment for neuralgia, toothaches, rheumatic pains, sore throat, lumbago, sore, aching joints, muscular strains, sprains, chest soreness from colds, chilblains, hoarseness, and insect bites. a panacea for all ailments! The packaging for Nerviline included a rectangular, transparent, glass bottle without a cork with visible mould lines and information embossed on the bottle.

Medicine Shows became less and less popular as people started to doubt the efficacy of these tonics. The government started paying attention after some of these “medicines” caused terrible side effects and even deaths. The Food and Drug Administration was eventually established after the Pure Food and Drug Act was eventually passed in 1906.

About Nerviline

After having studied at Queen’s University, Neil C. Polson established a drug business in Kingston in 1877. N.C. Polson & Co. became widely known across North America as a druggist and chemical manufacturer. They manufactured “Catarrhozone” and “Nerviline” under the Polson Co. umbrella. One of their products, Catarrhozone, was widely advertised as an inhaled germ-killer and remedy for all respiratory ailments. The Vapor treatment was meant to be dropped onto a small piece of wool held inside the portable wood inhaler, then inhaled periodically through the mouth. The company Polson Co. also produced Nerviline, a remedy for every ailment. On a bottle labelled “Polson’s Tasteless Preparation, the ingredients are cod liver oil and is pleasant and palatable along with doses for adults and children. Neither a confirmation that the aforementioned bottle was Nerviline nor a list of the ingredients for Nerviline can be found. It’s possible that Nerviline included morphine, cocaine, and a sizable amount of alcohol but unknown.

The United States and the West Indies received shipments of Polson’s goods from Kingston, Ontario.

In 1893, Polson was elected mayor of Kingston.

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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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