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Six boxes of common cold relief, United States, 1941-1950

White’s ‘Black Crow Pills’ claimed to relieve the early symptoms of common colds, including headaches, sore throats, coughs and tiredness. However, the pills did have the unfortunate effect of being mildly laxative. The pills also contained quinine, commonly associated with malaria treatment, for its pain-relieving and fever-reducing qualities. Typical of the often imaginatively titled products that were available ‘over the counter’, each small box cost 25 cents and this stand was probably on display in an American pharmacy. Today, many similar remedies are available for purchase without prescription.

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    Glossary: common cold

    a widespread infectious virus disease causing inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and bronchial tubes. Symptoms include a sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, headache, cough, and general malaise.

    Glossary: malaria

    Parasitic disease transmitted by certain kinds of mosquito. Malaria is characterized by fever and enlargement of the spleen. Each year, there are approximately 515 million cases of malaria, killing between one and three million people.

    Glossary: quinine

    A substance taken to fight malaria. Quinine is found naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree. It is also an ingredient in tonic water.

    Glossary: common cold treatment

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