Rev. N.H. Downs Vegetable Colonial Elixir was (according to an 1882–83 advertisement) touted as “a sure cure for Coughs, Colds, Whooping-Cough and all Lung Diseases, when taken in season.” The advertisement continued: “People die of consumption simply because of neglect, when the timely use of this remedy would have cured them at once. Fifty-two years of constant use proves the fact that no cough remedy has stood the test like Down’s Elixir.”
Consumption is now referred to as Tuberculosis. We have this testimonial letter by Benjamin Bailey, attesting to the efficacy of said elixir:
This may certify for more [than] two years of labour under a severe and distressing affection of the lungs, calling in all the aid of physicians that could be obtained, with little or no relief until I despaired of ever being able again to benefit myself and family, and were it not for the use of opium to keep up the Excitement, should not have been able to get about at all while in this condition, considering myself in a firm consumption.
I was induced to take a bottle of Rev. N.H. Down’s Elixir and found immediate relief there from laid aside my opium, continued the balsamic Elixir, was able to be about my business and have thus continued for the last six months comfortable and have no hesitation in saying to the public that the said balsamic Elixir was the only means of my recovery and do most cheerfully and earnestly recommend It to the public.
This is but one example of the many historical artifacts in the Archives and Museum.
The following advertisement appeared in several newspapers:
These are 1900 prices:
While opium is an aid to cough suppression, the risk of addiction is not insignificant.