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Medicine chest for cholera, London, England, 1849-1900

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Cholera is an infectious disease affecting the small intestine and causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea. It is spread through water supplies contaminated with the stools of people with cholera. This medicine chest contains a mixture of opium, for pain relief, and a mixture of catechu and laudanum (an opium-based painkiller). Catechu is an astringent used to shrink swelling, especially in the small intestine. This chest also contains a hand written remedy.

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Glossary: medicine chest

Small chests fitted for bottles and intended to hold medical supplies; of a type made in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.

Glossary: astringent

A drug that causes cells to contract. Astringents are used in lotions to harden and protect the skin and to lessen the bleeding from minor abrasions. They are present in several other domestic products, such as mouthwash and deodorant.