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Box containing bottle of 'Tabloid' Stramonium Leaf, Australia,1939

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Stramonium was originally an African medicine used for fevers. It was introduced into clinical use by Philadelphia physician Samuel Cooper in the late 1700s. It mainly treated epilepsy and respiratory complaints. Stramonium became notorious in that period for being implicated in poisoning cases. In the 20th century, it was smoked in cigars to relieve asthma. It also treated Parkinson’s disease. Manufacturer Burroughs Wellcome and Company claimed ‘Tabloid’ brand products were supplied ‘throughout the world to planters, ships, yachts, and all great exploring and hunting expeditions.’ This box and bottle are examples of dummy packaging. They were tested by the company before the product went on general sale.

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Glossary: drug

Any animal, vegetable, or mineral substance used in the composition of medicines. They affect the structure or function of a living organism.

Glossary: materia medica

A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.