Bottle of "Lydia E. Pinkham" brand pills for constipation.
Lydia E. Pinkham, née Estes, (1819-1883) was an American proprietor who commodified her homemade herbal-alcoholic supplements, claiming they could cure any “female complaint” from menstrual discomfort to a prolapsed uterus. Pinkham began making her medicine as a home remedy, which she freely shared with family and friends. In 1875, her “Vegetable Compound” made its debut commercial appearance for $1 a bottle. In Pinkham’s life, the business grew from her cellar kitchen to a manufacturing plant that would gross just under $300,000 a year. The product is still sold today in a modified form.
Though medical experts dismissed Pinkham’s products as quack remedies, the supplements’ popularity among women persisted. Aggressive marketing of Pinkham's products contributed to their acceptance by women; slogans such as “Only a woman can understand a woman’s ills,” targeted the many women who were hesitant to consult male physicians about menstruation or other women’s health issues.
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