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Friday, May 3, 2013

Confederate Opium and Quinine Shortages

By Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.
 
Quinine and opium were the most urgently needed drugs during the war and strenuous efforts were made to find plants that would serve as alternatives. Confederates tried to substitute extracts of a variety of tree barks for the Peruvian bark, separately and in combination, but none worked. At the suggestion of Surgeon General Moore, fields of opium-producing poppies were widely planted in the Confederacy, "but very little opium was gathered," and almost all the opium and morphine used was brought in through the [Naval] blockade.
 
Confederates established drug (called "chemical") manufacturing facilities to produce ether and chloroform, and to research the medicinal properties of various indigenous plants. Such facilities were located in Richmond, Charlotte, and Lincolnton in North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; August, Macon, and Atlanta in Georgia; Mobile, Alabama; and Knoxville, Tennessee. In the "Trans-Mississippi," there were similar laboratories in Tyler, Texas, and Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
 
FROM: Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs

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