In 1910 the Federal Government published an official bulletin entitled "Habit-Forming Agents: (Their Indiscriminate Sale And Use A Menace To The Public Welfare),"[2] which listed numerous Dangerous/Quack medicines by name strongly advising the public to avoid them. To no ones surprised only four Cannabis using medicines were listed, these being:

1. Piso's Cure for consumption [previously discussed]
2. Kohler's One-Night-Cough Cure
3. An un-named cure/treatment for morphine addiction
4. Victor Infant Relief

Obviously, Piso's (by nature of its false advertising) rightly deserves to be on the list. Kohler's One-Night-Cough Cure, whose ingredients in addition to Cannabis also included Morphine, would at least qualify it as a dangerous drug. The un-named treatment for morphine contained (among its other ingredients) 22 grains of morphine per fluid ounce. Humm, a treatment for morphine addiction that contained morphine (ok, enough said).

But, why Victors Infant Relief was included is a mystery to many. One at first may assume that the two-formulary ingredients (Chloroform and Cannabis), were the reason for inclusion. However, the formula in use was generic, with numerous other cough syrups essentially using the same formula [see chapter on cough syrups]. Why was Victors the only one mentioned-----and not the all so many others?

Maybe it is best to ask the two following questions:

Q: Was fraud or false advertising involved in any way? A: No, at least none that we have seen. The label states what every ad we have seen states, that it is a children's cough syrup and no more.

Q: Was the product effective? A: Yes.

Q: Was the product itself or any of its ingredients habit forming or dangerous? A: Maybe, possibly, let's take a closer look at the two listed offensive ingredients:

Cannabis Indica: At this point, I don't believe that anyone can label Cannabis as being either dangerous or non-effective. However, it should be noted that by 1910, the first newspaper articles about, Marihuana -- The Killer Weed, were beginning to come out. These were mostly stories about Mexicans, who after smoking loco-weed, would then go off and kill someone etc., and it may have been that Dr. Wiley [the author of the bulletin] actually believed them.

Chloroform: Is chloroform dangerous, yes, and thankfully, it is not the authors place to defend the un-defendable. However, as historians we would be negligent in our duties were we no to look at all the pertinent facts. All drugs has some dangers associated with them, so the question really becomes; Were their any "safer" alternatives? In the mid-19th Century, when this (essentially a generic) formula first came on the market, the answer would be, "probably not." However, by the mid-20th Century, the answer would be, most assuredly. Thus what could be label, quackery in one time period, would be labeled, Standard Medicine, another. In 1910, [the year the allegations were made], chloroform was already on its way out, but still in common use.

It is for these reasons that (at least this author) cannot in all good conscience, label the product as Quack, and must instead (in the year 1910) label it as Non-Quack.

[An Aside -- Not that it really matters, but of possible interest to read is the fact that Dr Harvey W. Wiley, the author of the above bulletin, was only one year later, either fired or forced to resign under pressure from his government post -----something about misappropriating government funds, and inappropriate lobbying activities etc. --- Humm!]

As for the chemical formulas of cough syrups: Due to pressure from governmental sources, both Chloroform and Cannabis were taken out. Alcohol was used as a substitute for Chloroform (I guess that's good) and Codine, which sounds like cocaine, but is actually a close cousin to Heroin, would replaced Cannabis. No comment on that one, however, I do remember (when I was a lot younger), that a lot of (how shall I put it) challenged individuals, used to buy a lot of cough syrup. At that time, I couldn't figure out why. I guess now I know: What is it that Solomon once said, "There is nothing new under the sun"


[2] -- U.S. Department of agriculture -- Farmers Bulletin 393. "Habit-Forming Agents: Their Indiscriminate Sale And Use A Menace To The Public Welfare," by H.W. Wiley.