The Traveling Medicine Show
The Traveling Medicine Show
Pitchmen & Plant Healers of Early America
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Plant Healer Press
Full color – 104 pages 8x11 – $24
Reasd the truth about the largely wonderful if oft maligned Traveling Medicine Show, the unfortunate shift from plant medicines to harmful pharmaceuticals, and the benefits and joys of resurgent herbalism in this modern age.... in a book as beautiful as it is fascinating, filled with over 500 lovely vintage and contemporary illustrations.
“Step right up, and please loan me your ears,” a spiel might begin. “It is I, a doctor to the common people, your maestro of popular music and entertainment, alchemist of wellbeing and conveyor of necessary remedies for a well balanced and fruitful life... asking each of you now: when it comes to health and healing, who could possibly know better than Mother Nature?” The silver tongued speaker might be alone, traveling only with a wide range of herbal products in his painted wagon, or else part of a troupe that not only shilled but entertained. What followed, might be a “scientific” or medical lecture, a magic act, musicians or comedians, providing not only bottled remedies but also a darn good time!
Although exceedingly popular from the early 1800s until the 1930s, the Traveling Medicine Shows and other herbal sellers were often unfairly maligned in their times, and today are most likely to be trivialized. Read here the truth about these alternative healthcare providers and their plant medicine allies, from traveling herbalist showmen like Indian John and the Diamond King, to the once best known woman in America, Lydia Pinkham. A large number of such folks were not only medicine sellers but also medicine makers, gathering or growing the potent plants for tinctures, decoctions, and tonics that could effectively treat a large percentage of common illnesses and conditions. Then as now, herbal nostrums provided a reasonable alternative to seeing a costly licensed physician and to the all too frequently dangerous drugs that they prescribed, for a majority of common conditions.
For the lovers of historic Americana, Steampunk sensibilities and wondrous curiosities, this book seeks to provide entertainment worthy of the early Traveling Medicine Shows themselves. And for anyone interested in herbalism, medicinal plants, personal health or the art of healing, it provides inspiration as well as information, feeding what is most certainly a new folk herbal resurgence.
Table of Contents
Forewords by Gene Fowler & Dara Saville
Act I: On The Medicine Trail – Herbs & Entertainment for The Common Folk
Act II: The Medicine Wagon
Act III: Propaganda – The Reality of The Traveling Medicine Show
Act IV: Jacob “Indian John” Derringer
Act V: The Diamond King: J.I. Lighthall
Act VI: John Halleck Center: Folk Herbalist
Act VII: Lydia Pinkham – From Bathtub Herbs to Corporate Makeover
Act VIII: Anything Modern – The Shift Towards Electric Wands & Miracle Drugs
Act IX: Denigration & Legislation
Act X: The Curtain Closes, & Opens Again – Transformation & The Beginnings of a Movement