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What is This Ingredient in Old Cough Syrup?

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I have found and old cough medicine recipe from 90 years ago. It was made with:

  • 1 cup molasses
  • juice of 1-1/2 lemons
  • 1 tsp. #18
  • 1 tbsp. glycerin
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Heat it and bottle it.

Now for the question What's # 18 ?

By Jazz from Westerly, RI

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December 16, 20090 found this helpful

The 18th Amendment of the US Constitution was the Prohibition of Alcohol, this was between the years 1919 and 1933 so it lines up with the 90 year old recipe!

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December 16, 20090 found this helpful

I was gonna guess some kind of booze too. One tsp doesn't sound like much but maybe it helps dissolve the glycerin or as a preservative. There are also references to 18 yr old whiskeys.

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December 17, 20090 found this helpful

No 18 is probably a proprietary compound made by the pharmacist himself/herself. But you might ask any older pharmacists you run into if there was a text used by pharmacists with recipes in it. Or write your state pharmacy college. Or go to library and see if they have any old books in the stacks. If it's not booze, it might be a codeine or opium compound, but that probably would have been written as laudanum [op]. Laudanum or opium was in cough syrups for consumptives [tuberculosis patients]. Since it was pretty deadly, no point in begrudging them their last comfort is there?

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December 19, 20090 found this helpful

It could have been paregoric. It was used in everything from cold medicine to stomach and colic, to pain medicine. It was for rest.

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December 19, 20090 found this helpful

Came across an old womans' institute book of recipes for cordials once and most started with :- Take a bottle of one or the other distilled nectar. No wonder that the organization became so popular at a time when it was not the thing for a gentle woman to drink but cordial, well that's another story.

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Health & Beauty AdviceDecember 16, 2009
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