Green River Star -

By Amanda Benson
Sweetwater County Historical Museum 

Artifact of the month: A cure for that cough


Catching a cold can be a year-round occurrence and quite the nuisance when you catch one.

Everyone hates the runny noses, sneezing and coughing that comes with a cold, and many people have go-to supplies for handling cold-related symptoms. For this month, the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is featuring a common product to deal with a pesky cold symptom: cough syrup.

This cough syrup was manufactured by the pharmaceutical manufacturing company, Perrigo, in Allegan, Mich. They marketed this cough syrup as “White Tree Cough Syrup,” which contained white pine as an ingredient. White pine is a known medicinal plant commonly found in the northeast of the United States. If the barks are steeped in hot water or alcohol, the liquid provides a soothing feeling on the throat. However, not all pine trees are medicinal. Pine trees, like ponderosa pine trees, can be poisonous if consumed.

The advancement in cough syrup has come a long way since this particular syrup was manufactured. The two active ingredients listed are chloroform (2.88 minims) and alcohol, at 1.75 percent by volume. The use of chloroform in medicine was not uncommon, and was often touted as a way to relieve asthma and other respiratory ailments as well as an anesthetic. Because of the dangers of chloroform, such as cardiac and respiratory arrest, the FDA prohibited it for human consumption in 1976.

The other ingredients used in this cough syrup include: wild cherry, menthol, aralia, poplar bud, sanguinaria, sassafras, and a sugar and glucose syrup.

If you’re not feeling too under the weather, come see our featured artifact at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum. We are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturdays.


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