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Numotizine: The ultimate treatment for a cough

Three decades ago, any time someone walked into the Dicus Drugstore in Farmington, Missouri looking for Numotizine Cataplasm, or, as Dad called it, “Pink Peanut Butter”, they knew they’d been talking to Dr. Farquhar.

It was what my grandfather, Dr. Ralph Collins Farquhar Jr., D.O., a family doctor in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, starting in the mid-1930s, used to use to treat a cough. My dad, Dr. Ralph C. III, D.O., used it to treat my sister and me when we were sick, and anyone else who seemed to be sick.Numotizine

It’s over-the-counter, so I can use it on my kids too. Unfortunately it’s hard to find. I called a few drugstores in St. Louis trying to find it. None of them had ever heard of it, though they had heard of the company that makes it.

These days, the best place to find it is Amazon. Here’s the link for the single pack, if the 2-pack is sold out.  The stuff has a shelf life of something like 5 years, so don’t worry about having to order a 2-pack. You’ll use it before it goes bad.

It was invented by Dr. Samuel Alexander Gotcher to treat pneumonia and typhoid fever. It’s now touted (very quietly, as I’m sure you’ve never heard of the stuff) as a cure-all for cough, mosquito bites, sprains, and for all I know, hangovers. I don’t know about any of that. I just know it loosens up a cough quickly, and that the Drs. Ralph swore there wasn’t much of anything better. Maybe codeine, but Numotizine has a few less side effects, although codeine probably evokes fewer questions.

It’s easy to use. Heat up the jar. Fifteen seconds in the microwave will do. Then smear a thin layer on a washcloth and stick it to your chest overnight. Finally, wash it off in the shower in the morning. After 8 hours of that stuff doing whatever it does internally, and you breathing its fumes–I can’t describe the smell, other than to say it definitely smells like medicine, and strong medicine at that–your cough loosens. Repeat nightly until it goes away.

I’m sure there can’t be more than a few hundred people who know about this stuff and still use it. Maybe I can fix that.

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4 thoughts on “Numotizine: The ultimate treatment for a cough”

  1. This sounds like one of these menthol/menthol salicylate/camphor -heavy concotions.

    When you get it, could you please post a list of the ingredients? If it’s not too much trouble.

  2. Rich,

    I know that Dave is away from the computer for a day or so, so I’ll try to respond to your inquiry. Numotizine’s “formula” is listed as “Guciacol 0.260gm., Beechwood Creosote 1.302 gm., Methyl Salicylate 0.260 gm, in a colored Kaolin-Polyol base, q.s. 100 grams.”

    Dave’s correct in that we are big believers in the power of Numotizine. I am convinced that his sister would not have survived childhood without it. Every sniffle went into bronchitis and then pneumonia (9 times in 1 year!). Antibiotics helped the infection go away but didn’t clear up that horrible barky-cough that came every time she took a breath. It usually took pink peanutbutter about 3 nights, with a noticeable improvement after the second night. I remember Dave’s dad setting out one Christmas Eve evening in a blizzard to drive 60 miles to deliver a jar of the stuff to a colleague whose daughter was very sick. They swore that Santa arrived in a red truck that year and that his Christmas gift to them was their little girl’s life. They reminded me of that story at his funeral.

    And it doesn’t smell good. Yet, when you’re sick enough to need it, the smell is almost soothing. And, as all of you parents know, when your child is suffering, you’ll do anything to make them better–even learning to love the smell of Numotizine.

    Dave’s mom

  3. Hadn’t heard of one of those ingredients, so looked it up – –

    Guaiacol (n.) A colorless liquid, C7H8O2, with a peculiar odor. It is the methyl ether of pyrocatechin, and is obtained by distilling guaiacum from wood-tar creosote, and in other ways. It has been used in treating pulmonary tuberculosis.

    Yup – sounds like it’ll clear your head and chest up fairly quickly. I’ll have to try this next time, as my head colds quickly become bronchitis and/or pneumonia and/or pleurisy. Yuck!!

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