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.