Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup

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Moulded on this 5-inch tall glass bottle are the inscriptions MRS. WINSLOWS / SOOTHING SYRUP / CURTIS & PERKINS / PROPRIETORS

Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup is a patent medicine supposedly compounded by Mrs. Charlotte N. Winslow, and first marketed by her son-in-law Jeremiah Curtis and Benjamin A. Perkins of Bangor, Maine, USA[1] in 1845.[2] The formula consisted of morphine sulphate (65 mg per fluid ounce), sodium carbonate, spirits foeniculi, and aqua ammonia. It was claimed that it was "likely to sooth any human or animal", and it effectively quieted restless infants and small children especially for teething.[3] It was widely marketed in the UK and the US. As well as newspapers, the company used various media to promote its product, including recipe books, calendars, and trade cards.[4]

In 1911 the American Medical Association issued a publication titled "Nostrums And Quackery" in which, in a section called "Baby Killers", it incriminated Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup.[5] The product was nevertheless not withdrawn from sale until 1930.[1]

In 1879 the English composer Edward Elgar wrote an early musical work, part of his Harmony Music for a wind quintet, which he titled Mrs. Winslow's soothing syrup.

In Woody Guthrie's 1940 Dustbowl Ballad, "Tom Joad", Grandpa Joad is given soothing syrup before he dies.[6]

See also[edit]

United States v. Johnson (1911)


  1. ^ a b Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, Wood Library Museum, retrieved 5 September 2016
  2. ^ Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, Museum of Drugs, retrieved 5 September 2016
  3. ^ "Mrs. Winslows Soothing Syrup", Lowcountry Digital Library, archived from the original on 1 March 2016, retrieved 1 September 2014
  4. ^ J Hist Dent. 2000 Nov;48(3):99–105
  5. ^ "Nostrums and Quackery; Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quackery". Internet Archive. Chicago, IL.: American Medical Association. 1911. p. 318.
  6. ^ Tom Joad, Woody Guthrie, retrieved 5 September 2016

Further reading[edit]