Helmbold’s Extract of Buchu

Read all about the herb buchu and its medicinal merchandising here.

One of the most (in)famous protagonists was Henry T. Helmbold (1826–1892), who started his patent medicine business in 1846 as a retail druggist with “Helmbold’s Extract Buchu—cures diabetes, gravel, brick-dust deposits, irritations of the bladder and diseases arising from exposure or imprudence, etc.” and other medicines. He opened his first store in Philadelphia in 1850, the largest and best-known in New York in 1862. By 1865 Helmbold’s buchu was the bestselling patent medicine on the US market. For this, he spent enormous amounts of money on advertising, mostly in newspapers: ∼US$ 500,000 (about 10 million US$ today) each for the years 1869–71. For the distribution of his products, Helmbold had his own 4c postage stamp (Figure 4) (The Historian, 1912; Young, 1961).

The Hottentot ad is for Helmsbold's product. It has three more pages, viewable here.

     Posted By: Paul - Fri May 10, 2024
     Category: Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil | Africa | Nineteenth Century

$10 million in 1961 would be over $100 million today (2024)
Posted by crc on 05/10/24 at 10:06 AM
Buchu is a medicinal plant that had actual use in it's day.
Buchu (Agathosma betulina and A. crenulata): Rightfully Forgotten or Underutilized? "Its traditional use in urinary tract infections and related ailments made it a popular remedy, specifically in the US, in 19th century, but with the advent of antibiotics it became largely obsolete." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8859318/
Posted by eddi on 05/12/24 at 03:29 AM

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