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Opium: The Cure For The Common Cold ... 100 Years Ago (VIDEO)

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Back in the 19th century, opium was commonly prescribed as a treatment for colds until it was banned in 1923.
Back in the 19th century, opium was commonly prescribed as a treatment for colds until it was banned in 1923.

Times have certainly changed and so has medicine.

For instance, in the 19th century, opium was a common method for treating coughs and it wasn't until 1923 that it was banned.

These days, opium and derivative drugs like morphine and heroin are illegal, which makes old paraphernalia connected to the days when it was legal very valuable to collectors like Audra Kunkle.

She's the star of the Science Channel series Oddities San Francisco, which airs Saturdays and is filmed at Loved To Death, a San Francisco shop that sells bizarre artifacts like, well, old opium bottles.

Kunkle recently came across two sideshow performers, Molotov and Leighton, who wanted to sell her one as part of a "contraband medicine kit."

"The opium bottle is pretty impressive," she admitted.

Molotov, ever the good businessman, made an additional pitch in hopes of making a sale: "We're not completely out. I believe there is some antique sludge at the bottom."

Kunkle was especially amused by the label: For infants only as directed by the physician.

"I can't imagine giving an infant opium," she said.

"It'd keep him quiet," Molotov volunteered.

In addition, he was hoping to sell an empty bottle of a product called "Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup" that Kunkle said was "commonly known as a baby killer" because it contained a substance called "Laudenum."

"[The product] is actually a mixture of morphine and alcohol that was prescribed for babies when they were colicky," Kunkle explained. "They used to rub it on their gums to help with teething, [but] it would make them lose their appetite so they would die of malnutrition."

Kunkle's employee, Korri Sabatini, summed up the two products succinctly: "You guys are selling us the world's most sinister babysitting kit."

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