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Museum treasures

Lydia Pinkham's 'vegetable compound', c. 1890–1905

The popular ‘vegetable compound’ was marketed as a medicinal cure for female health complaints.

An advertising card for Lydia Pinkham's vegetable compound

Source: RPS Museum

Lydia Pinkham and her ‘vegetable compound’ inspired The Scaffold’s 1960s song Lily the Pink. Her company was founded in the United States in 1876 and targeted women.

This advertising card (c. 1890–1905), with its wintry setting, promotes the medicine as a cure for “all those painful complaints and weaknesses so common to our best female population”. These included “change of life” — a term used to describe the menopause — and tumours of the uterus.

Although the Pinkham family were followers of the temperance movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, Pinkham’s vegetable compound contained around 20% alcohol, which might account for its popularity.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207391

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