The Mother's Friend

Title

The Mother's Friend

Subject

Medicine
Internal Medicine

Description

From Medicinal Vessels of the First Gilded Age:
The Mother’s Friend was one of the flagship products of J. Bradfield’s Bradfield Regulator Company. The term "regulator" was a reference to the medicine’s alleged ability to regulate the menses. A miraculous claim at the time, yet merely one claim among many for The Mother’s Friend, whose primary claims to functionality were the ability to streamline and render painless the process of childbirth.
The supposed benefits of consuming The Mother’s Friend went on to include everything from a speedy “confinement” to helping make babies pretty and healthy in the womb. These claims would likely have continued ad absurdum had not the federal Food and Drug Act of 1906 required a bit more truth in advertising. Once the compound was chemically analyzed, the claims toward the results of using the product had to reflect the facts. In this way, it was shown that The Mother’s Friend should not be recommended for internal use at all. Instead, the compound should only be applied to the skin. The advertisement entitled “Mothers: Do You Know?” may appear disingenuous by insisting that there are no potent drug-compounds such as strychnine, opium, or morphine within it. Despite the various other miraculous claims typically attributed to products that did contain those drugs, in the case of the Mothers’ Friend, it was in fact true that no such narcotics were present.
While the compound was not a poison, neither was it the miraculous medicine it claimed to be. Consuming Mother’s Friend internally would likely only regulate a woman’s bowel movements, certainly not her menses or her pregnancy. However, twice during 1909, consignments of Mother’s Friend were seized under the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1906) and deemed misbranded because of the claims made. Changing the claims made in regards to the compound’s qualities allowed Bradfield to continue a relatively successful production of Mother’s Friend as a lotion. In fact, the rights to produce the substance were bought in 1986. It is still being produced today, as a lotion for tight skin due to pregnancy. Ironically, the company to buy Bradfield’s famous liniment was none other than the S.S.S. Company! The lotion is still available, as of this writing, in some stores and online.

Source

Cook, David L., "Medicinal Vessels of the First Gilded Age (1870-1929): Properties of Promise or Hokum
of False Hope?." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2014.
doi: https://doi.org/10.57709/6430686

Publisher

Phoenix Project

Date

c. 1903-1906

Contributor

HIP-SI 2023
Lauren Cook

Format

Weight: 181.9g
W: 56.5mm
H: 17cm
L: 32.9mm

Type

Glass
Bottle

Identifier

p433, ACC 170

Coverage

9FU91

Collection

Citation

“The Mother's Friend,” The Phoenix Project , accessed June 17, 2024, https://martaphoenixproject.gsuanthropology.com/items/show/85.

Output Formats

Geolocation