Historic Hood River
Welcome to Artifact Monday
I am very lucky to have access to the archives at our History Museum. Artifacts are generally indexed in a searchable database, but sometimes I just pick a random drawer to see what I can find. This is Unit 3A, Shelf 6, Tray Box 252: a bunch of miscellaneous medical supplies which were found in the museum collection (undocumented source) during a 2012 inventory. Check out the box of “Toxok Poison Oak Extract” in the middle. According the label on the reverse, it is “highly purified principle of poison oak” which apparently was intended for treatment of the dermatitis (rash) caused by poison oak and ivy. They recommend intramuscular injection in 3 doses, 4-7 days apart.
I found this 1973 interview with biochemist Howard Winegarden who developed this therapeutic for Cutter Labs in the 1920s. Apparently the intent was to desensitize the patient through oral or IV doses of the toxin. Dr. Winegarden claimed it worked to reduce poison oak symptoms in 80% of the population, and was still in use in 1973. I can’t find any evidence it is still around today.
Tags: artifact, medical, poison oak
When my dad was young, he worked on clearing the BPA power line right of ways. A lot of the men suffered with poison oak. It seems like I remember my parents talking about a series of shots you could take.
I am not finished reading the interview, but it is interesting. I have dealt with blackleg in cattle but not anthrax.
Mercurochrome was used for most every cut when I was growing up.
Mercurochrome sure stung for me! But they did use it for just about everything except beestings from running thru the clover barefoot in the backyard which was then baking soda and back outside.
Fascinating to see a poison oak extract in commercially packaged form. I can only imagine the misery of those laborers tasked with collecting and distilling the raw material! The CDC has debunked the old folk remedy of â€œbuilding an immunityâ€ by rubbing or ingesting poison oak, and has shown just the opposite: that repeated exposure tends to heighten the response (not to mention that ingesting poison oak can be deadly).