Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5

Kristin Holt | 11-Part Blog Article Series: Victorian-American Headaches

Have you seen the rest of the series?

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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5

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Know-it-all’s of Victorian America blamed hats.

They also blamed disordered bodily organs.

Another 19th-century doctor went so far as to blame chronic dyspepsia.

Now some wise soul blamed Sunday. Yes, the day of the week. A biggie, they assert, in precipitating headaches. At least in the Victorian-American turn-of-the-Century.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. Sunday is to blame!

Sunday Naps, Baths, Lack of Exercise

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Please allow me to share a vintage article from The Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, dated January 6, 1901.

Heads up! Not all headache powders are safe!

It’s no surprise to us, looking back on 1901, to discover patent medicines could poison and kill. But then, fantastic claims offered relief. To those who’d become desperate, I can understand their willingness to try a supposedly harmless powder folded up in paper from a trusted druggist (pharmacist).

This article argues why Sunday is the ailment’s most prevalent day, why an extra nap is involved, and why warm baths and exercise (or lack thereof) are culprits.

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Death

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. Quote from Chicago Tribune, Jan 6, 1901. "Only headaches troubled her. So far as known, only headache powders were taken for relief. But she died."

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Tragic, isn’t it? An otherwise healthy woman suffered from headaches (sounds like me), took purportedly several headache powders (in 1900 or 1901) and died. #NineteenthCenturyProblems Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. "Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week." From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 1 of 3.

“Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week.” From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 1 of 3.

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Self-Poisoning to Blame

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Did you see that? I don’t know whether to be grateful I live NOW or affronted on behalf of ALL headache sufferers, everywhere, and “everywhen“, including Victorian America.

Why? Should I not take umbrage at the idea that my headaches are because I’ve poisoned myself? Who would do something like that? I want to feel good. And thrive. I do not intentionally poison myself.

Uh… well, I do consume a good deal of sugar. And I take various prescriptions (chemicals, and [understandably] poisons, all). And occasionally use cosmetics, hand lotion and other “pretty” things that absorb into my skin. Sometimes, I drink and eat artificially colored morsels…

(Loud clearing of the throat.)

Perhaps I can comprehend a Victorian doctor’s theory of self-poisoning.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. Quote from Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901: "Headache itself is discovered to be the result of self-poisoning, the heritage of the dillettante, and the logical effect of too much repose in a constitution that has accustomed itself to a strenuous life."

Quote from Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901: “Headache itself is discovered to be the result of self-poisoning, the heritage of the dillettanté, and the logical effect of too much repose in a constitution that has accustomed itself to a strenuous life.”

 

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Pause for Definitions

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headache: Part 5. Define - Dilettante

Define – Dilettante. Courtesy of Google.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian American Headaches: Part 5. Define Repose.

Define – Repose. Courtesy of Google.

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Continue with Theory

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headache: Part 5. Quote from within a headache article in Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901. Quote reads: "But all headaches may be said to come from the same general source--the poisoning of the nerve centers. This active poison is the leukomaine, which simply is the ash of destroyed tissue."

Quote from within a headache article in Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901.

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Leukomaine? Is that a real word?

Poisons! Ash of destroyed tissue! Doomsday! (okay, I embellished that last bit.)

Sounds like either A) Halloween, or B) we’re back in the medical operating theater.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. "Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week." From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 2 of 3.

“Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week.” From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 2 of 3.

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Wash the Blood Free of Poisons

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-America Headaches: Part 5. Quote from Chicago Tribune on January 6, 1901: "In the old days the doctors knew one thing to do--to give the patient a laxative. Later they discovered that by the use of carbonized water the blood could be washed free of its poisons and more quickly bring about relief. The headache powder is an evolution."

A quote from Chicago Tribune on January 6, 1901.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. Quote No. 3 from Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901. Image text reads: "Without question the headache poiwder has added greatly to the general sum of human happiness. Headache is the legacy of the dilliettante, man or woman, or the penance which teh active man or woman pays for indulgence in lassitude. As a pancea for the ill, from whatever cause it may afflict, the headache powder must be regarded as a blessing."

From Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1901.

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The Powder’s Formula

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The good doctor, quoted within the article, gives today’s historians information about what contents made up those headache specific powders.

Antipyrin/Antipyrine, covered somewhat in Part 3, had apparently fallen out of fashion by 1901.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 3

Note what is included: Antifebrin, caffeine, phenacetin, antikammia. Still no aspirin.

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5. "Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week." From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 3 of 3.

“Sunday Leads to Headache: Why the Ailment Is Most Prevalent on That Day of the Week.” From Chicago Tribune dated January 6, 1901. Part 3 of 3.

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Rules of Life

I’ve shared various other snippets of Victorian “Rules for Life”. Of course, many Victorian-American “Rules for Life” blend almost invisibly into courteous manners and etiquette. (Etiquette: for the bicycle, in ballrooms, for Leap Year, when away, breaking up a romance, conversation, and so many more… including how to mourn properly.)

Victorian-American Headaches: Part 5

This vintage newspaper article adds more RULES FOR LIFE to the mix:

Don’t sleep too late on Sundays. Too much sleep is far more injurious than too little.

Don’t sit too closely in the house (I assume this means too many people shut up in a close (confined) space).

Do take up some form of physical or mental exercise. Don’t drop into idleness.

Don’t drink alcohol. Such beverages cause headaches. Abstinence prevents headaches.

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In Conclusion

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“Good-night, gentlemen, good-night. But I’ll see you in the morning!”

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~ closing lines of this newspaper article

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Up Next

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Victorian-American Headaches: Part 6 ~ Home Management of Headaches

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 6

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Related Articles

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Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 1

Kristin Holt | Victorian American Headaches, Part 2

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 3

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Headaches: Part 4

Kristin Holt | Old West Bath Tubs

Kristin Holt | Indoor Plumbing in Victorian America

Kristin Holt | Old West Bath House

Kristin Holt | Freckles, Complexions, Cosmetics and Victorian Beauty Concoctions

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