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Victorian Pharmacy

2010, History  -   22 Comments
Ratings: 8.50/10 from 16 users.

Victorian PharmacyHistorical observational documentary series which recreates a Victorian pharmacy. The programme follows historian Ruth Goodman, Professor Nick Barber and PhD student Tom Quick as they recreate an authentic 19th Century pharmacy.

This programme is interesting and well worth watching. It shows that the pharmaceutical world is constantly evolving. The Victorians had some excellent remedies and methods, and whilst cannabis and opium are no longer prescribed and added to medicines there are elements of both substances that scientists have recreated and we continue to use today.

The team discover the world of the pharmacy at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign in 1837 - a world where traditional remedies such as leeches, oil of earthworm and potions laced with cannabis and opium were popular and regularly used.

As the Industrial Revolution spread through Britain, so too did breathing related illnesses, due mainly to the thick smoke and smog. Nick Barber, Ruth Goodman and Tom Quick try some Victorian remedies on volunteers - will the bronchial kettle and leather 'plaister' work as well as modern treatments?

Ruth Goodman, Nick Barber and Tom Quick take on the challenges of the 1850s and 60s, a time when overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions had reached their peak, leading to unprecedented outbreaks of disease.

Also you might possibly want to check out: Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm.

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22 Comments / User Reviews

  1. MillermanHH

    What Is the point of this BULLSHIT when the participants have to administer so-called 'safe-versions'? How can this possibly be considered a true 'enactment'? Utter Garbage!

    1. Samantha S.

      Oh wow yeah that is dumb. lol

  2. Alexander Owen Spencer

    This documentary is a garbage experiment, without the drugs that were used in the cures how do they expect to give an accurate representation of the times lol.

    1. MillermanHH

      Absolutely agree with you my friend! What an utterly pointless exercise! Are they scared of administering therapeutic amounts of Opium,when In those days,they plied the working classes with endless amounts of It because - In Ignorance - they (te Poor) thought It to be a 'cure-all' due to It's powerful sedative effects? It was just another way to keep the poor In perpetual poverty! Little wonder that 75% of the poorest families In 1890-1900 lost at least one under-five to one Illness or another - they were being poisoned with the 'cure-all' Opium!!!

  3. Emily Madison

    Leeches are still used today in naturopathic medicine. They work especially well in people with swelling and sore muscles because their saliva has mild anaesthetic effect as well as a muscle relaxant.

  4. bud_oracle

    My long passed on grandmother was a midwife and a herbal practitioner who made her way from war widow single parent before and through the war with her skills and knowledge. One of the first introductions to psychedelic substances was her story about the amanita muscaria mushroom and the forest gnomes. They were little people like elves who appeared when you ate the mushroom. I was fifty three before the first gnomes dropped in to see me. What really troubled me about the modern Pharmacist was how he relegated opium, cannabis to unnatural substances when he said "I'll make you some from herbs, natural herbs that will be better for you." What if not natural herbs would these substances be? And the efficacy is proven. There are plenty more dangerous addictions than a cup of opium tea at the end of the day which would relieve aching muscle, and joint pain for hard laborers. When I see the real damage caused by modern pharmaceuticals some of which were highly touted and aggressively marketed only a few years ago and the lucrative law suites lawyers are profiting from today, I see nothing more than a sophisticated version of the snake oil ventures of the early years.

  5. Yusiley S

    I still use some of the old remedies... such as using sulfur in soaps to clear acne skin and rice/pearl powder as facial masks and face power make-up. :) As for the remedies that were created during the Victorian era, I use diet soda for a pick me up and for stomach aches. O_O Amazing to know that the Victorians also used soda in the same matter. Of course their sodas had cocaine, which explains how Coca-cola got its name. Coca was the short way of saying cocaine. ^_^ Too bad it's not in modern sodas, but I bet if these soda companies brought back that original ingredient, they would sell more than beer or any other recreational beverage in the world. They would cause the other recreational beverages to sign up for bankruptcy and close them out. LOL Anyways thank you so much for posting this doc.

  6. PatricktheAtheist

    damn I wish i lived back then. even if life sucked everything you needed to fix your mood would be available at the pharmacy

  7. TheRealMax

    Times haven't changed much. Hydrocodone is well popular for these in the know.

  8. mikey

    intresting doc. showcases the time when chemistry medicine and herbal medicines were co-existing. Many of the compounds and chemicals that were used are still used today such as sulfer, mercury and more. Although most of the herbal medicines are now not available.Thanks to the influence of Mr Rockefeller and his company standard oil(esso).

  9. Guest

    This doc is pretty dope!

  10. Alessio Fangano

    Again another amazing doc! Loved the bits on photography in there...


    Pharmaceutical drugs are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. These are properly prescribed and correctly ingested, this is nothing short of Murder. Doctors should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. Deepak Mahat

      You should be ashamed of posting such an ignorant idea..Can you please clarify why a humble respectable doctor in society need to be ashamed of his karma.... :?

    2. Edwin Wall III

      You're right and Tylenol makes up about 70% of those deaths . get your facts right before you go and say such broad and dangerous statements.

  12. David Foster

    "It shows that the pharmaceutical world is constantly evolving.", he says... Boy, I can't WAIT to watch this one!

  13. adilrye

    Pharmacy? I thought it was Chemist in Britain. My British cousin had no idea what a pharmacy was. Anyway, I love docs like these. More interesting to me than the emperors and elites was how the every day person lived in a certain era. That's infinitely more fun to watch and discover.

    1. Bathtubgin

      In the UK chemist and pharmacy are interchangeable. Not knowing what a pharmacy is says more about the individual than the culture in this case.

  14. Vivian Ann Langston-Williams

    This was awesome! Thanks so much for posting it (: It was so informative and it reminded me to be thankful for the things I'm able to just pick up and use today with such ease, I fully enjoy this too cool history lesson. I'm also glad we understand what heavy metals do to the human body today, Just think we could have been full of so many different poisons back in the Victorian era. I learned a lot from viewing!

  15. Guest

    Made pot butter last night, making chocolat truffle today!

  16. Rachelnico

    Opium and cannabis to cure my cough? I definitely support the Victorian Pharmacy.

  17. Yasuhiro Usuba

    Cannabis is truly the wonderdrug. Brilliant!