Page 29 - Pharmacy History 37 Nov 2009
P. 29

From a 1930s advertisement
(Only in America)
OK everyone, let’s all get on the Tapeworm Diet
Have a great day
In addition to the single dose powders, the powders were sometimes sold in bulk, a double ended measure being used to measure the required quantities.
The formula changed little over
the years. The dose of tartaric acid was reduced slightly to 38 grains. The powders were first official in the 1890 Addendum to the British Pharmacopoeia 1885, as effervescent tartrated soda powder (pulv sodae tartaratae effervescens BP). The
last official entry was in the British Pharmaceutical Codex 1973.
Official variations were double strength compound effervescent powder (pulv efferv co dup), containing double the quantity of sodium potassium tartrate and strong compound effervescent powder
(pulv efferv co fort), containing 50% more sodium potassium tartrate. Pharmaceutical Formulas (1903),
gave recipes for lemon-flavoured Seidlitz powders containing oil of lemon, sweetened Seidlitz powders containing saccharin and alkaline and Seidlitz powders containing extra sodium bicarbonate.
Similar preparations are available today. Andrews salts and generic ‘health salts’ are probably the
nearest in formulation, mainly using magnesium sulphate as the laxative. Medicines must always be taken with care.
An ‘anonymous epitaph’ at Burlington, Massachusetts USA warns of the dangers of Seidlitz powders:
Here lies the body of Mary Ann Lowder,
She burst while drinking a Seidlitz Powder
Called from this earth to her heavenly rest
She should have waited ‘til it effervesced.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author and appeared in the Pharmaceutical Journal Dec 2001;26722:29.
volume 5   no 37  NOVEMBER 2009 Pharmacy History Australia  29

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