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Bottle of Alertis Cordial, United States, 1901-1920

Bottle of Alertis Cordial, United States, 1901-1920

Credits: Science Museum

Aletris Cordial – better known as Mother’s Cordial – was a popular ‘over the counter’ remedy described as a uterine tonic, taken in the last weeks of pregnancy to improve the chances of a safe birth and prepare the body for labour. Women who had miscarried during previous pregnancies also took it as a preventative measure. One or two teaspoonfuls were to be taken each day throughout the pregnancy. The uterine tonic was also prescribed for women with problems with their menstrual cycles such as amenorrhoea. The tonic contained aletris, from a bitter-tasting plant called stargrass. The tonic was made by Rio Chemical Company and was available from the 1890s.

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Glossary: pregnancy

The condition of having a developing unborn embryo or foetus in the body. A human pregnancy is usually of 40 weeks gestation.

Glossary: amenorrhoea

The abnormal absence of menstruation

Glossary: medicinal tonic

No description.

Glossary: uterus

The hollow reproductive organ in female mammals. The uterus is where the foetus develops after conception. The word 'womb' is often used among non-medical people to refer to the same area.

Glossary: menstrual cycle

The stage during which the female body prepares for pregnancy. The cycle consists of the thickening of the uterus lining and the release of an egg into the uterus from the ovaries. If the egg is not fertilized, the thickened lining dissolves and is released as a 'period'. In humans, the average cycle length is 28 days, and occurs in females who have reached puberty.

Glossary: miscarriage

A miscarriage is where a pregnancy ends before 24 weeks. Miscarriages occur in between ten and twenty per cent of all pregnancies.