THEN and NOW: Remedies for What Ails the Menstruating Woman.
Recently, I was perusing the book section of a very dusty second hand/antiques store and came across a really interesting women’s health soft covered book titled: “CARDUI Medical Advice for Women” published by the Chattanooga Medicine Co., Chattanooga, TENN. The book is “A Simple Treatise on the Diseases AND Physiological Functions of Women, With Information on Hygiene, Diet and Exercise.” Fun stuff considering that this book was published anywhere from 1880-1910 to promote the publisher’s treatments for women’s reproductive health malfunctions. (To Antiques Road Show: Another copy of the book is being offered for sale online at, $75.00. Considering I only paid $3.00, I made a killing!).
I purchased the book thinking I would post a then and now medical advise blog. To that end, I will start with the book’s suggested treatment for various female maladies and then give the current recommendations. There are a multitude of female issues addressed in the book, such as “displacements of the womb, ailments during pregnancy, constipation, sterility, sore nipples and the change of life”; but I will be only choosing “ailments” more closely related to menstruation. Fun times in old world medicine land!
THEN: Of course the treatment of choice a century ago is CARDUI. This product is described as a “harmless strengthening, tonic medicine for women.” Its ingredients are: medicinal herbs and barks prepared in the form of an infusion or extract, with alcohol as its solvent and preservative. A tablespoon, or swig from the bottle (that’s me saying swig from the bottle) should be taken a few days before ones period begins and can be taken four times a day. Also, it can be taken more frequently if cramping or spasmodic pain happens. To note, complete rest in bed is recommended if there is severe pain.
NOW: Mild cramping is not uncommon. An over the counter pain reliever containing IBUPROFEN or NAPROSYN usually helps. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully.
Exercise is a good way to relieve cramps. If you play sports or do other physical activities, keep it up during your period! If you don’t have a regular workout routine, this may be a good time to start including exercise in your life. You can also try placing a heating pad on your abdomen, taking a warm bath, or massaging the area that is uncomfortable. Of course, getting proper rest, following a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water will help you feel your best, too.
If you try the suggestions above and still feel very uncomfortable - or your cramps keep you from your usual activities - you should consult with your doctor/health care provider. He/she should be able to help with a proper diagnosis and treatment.
For more information: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003150.htm
AMENORRHEA; ABSENCE, STOPPAGE, OR SUPPRESSION OF FLOW
THEN: One thing that hasn’t changed are some of the reasons for not having a flow and that is: “Before puberty; during pregnancy and nursing (not always); after change of life; in absence of womb or ovaries.” The book offers that if menstruation stops at any other time, then it is a sign that something is wrong. Causes could be kidney trouble, weak digestion, chronic diarrhea, pertonits (book spelling), hemorrhages, a chronic ulcer or sore, anxiety grief, sudden shock, catching cold, exposure to wet or cold. As you would think, a tablespoon of Cardui, four times a day, as a tonic, has been found to build up and strengthen the system so that all could return back to normal. There is another product, Thedford’s Black-Draught (a purely vegetable medicine, a laxative or cathartic) that should be taken to regulate the bowels and assist the action of Cardui. (Happy times!) Lastly, it is recommended that hot baths, injections with Cardosiptec (A mild detergent douche or wash or vaginal injection that helps soothe inflammation.) in hot or warm water and hot water bottles applied to the abdomen all help.
NOW: Amenorrhea is a lack of menses - meaning no periods. Primary amenorrhea means you never had a period and are older than 16. Secondary amenorrhea means you had a period and it stopped coming (and you are not pregnant) or you get less than 6 periods each year. Both of these conditions mean you should see your health care professional for a medical opinion.
If you do not menstruate you cannot become pregnant, and it may be an indication you are not creating enough estrogen. This can effect your bone strength. For further information: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amenorrhea/DS00581
THEN: “Any abnormal or unusual discharge from the vagina that is not blood. When this discharge is too profuse or differs greatly from the healthy discharge in color, etc it is a sign of congestion of the organs. It is not a serious disease. The daily cold shower, or bath will be found a valuable help in toning up the entire system. Local douches with Cardosiptec should be taken night and morning or oftener, for their cleansing action. A generous, strengthening diet should be chosen, and plenty of exercise in the open air taken. It is important that the bowels be kept open. For this purpose use Thedford’s Black-Draught.”
NOW: Vaginal discharge is a fluid produced by your body to moisten and cleanse the vagina.
Vaginal discharge is simply mucous - much like what moistens and protects your eyes and nose. It is usually clear in color but can look white or off-white when it is seen outside of your body (on your underwear or toilet tissue). How much of it there is and how thick or watery it is will vary from day to day. This is due to normal changes in your hormone levels during your menstrual cycle (the time between menstrual periods).
If you find discharge uncomfortable, you can use a pantiliner or pad to absorb it. Tampons should not be used to absorb discharge. They are only used during your period to collect menstrual flow.
Perspiration or secreted or excreted fluid may create an odor when in contact with bacteria on your skin. Wash this area with soap and water if you detect an odor. Some odors are related to vaginal infections. Discharge with a strong or bad odor and/or is yellow, gray, or green in color and/or causes itching should be checked out by your doctor/health care provider as soon as possible. For further information: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003158.htm
Wish I could post this book in its entirety online so that others interested in the historical (not hysterical) treatment options, once a part of women’s health, would be able to read the book too. All I can say is thank goodness for modern medicine and our increased understanding and reliable treatment options. We really have progressed greatly. Now I am wondering what treatments will be available in 100 years in the future or will prevention make all of these ailments disappear??