How do you mend a broken heart?

Valentine's Day is traditionally for those whose hearts are all aglow with love, but the cardio-obsession also led the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to declare February American Heart Month. In recognition of those of us whose hearts could use a little help today, Mallory Warner, a project assistant in the Division of Medicine and Science, shares a few collection objects perfect for mending a broken heart.

"A super tonic and heart stimulant, promotes appetite, rest and sleep."
Tono Sumbul Cordial, 1895-1906

"A super tonic and heart stimulant, promotes appetite, rest and sleep."

The main ingredient of this cordial [from cor/cord, Latin for heart] is the root of Ferula sumbul, also known as muskroot, a plant imported from Russia. An advertisement in a 1905 Canadian medical journal states that Tono Sumbul "is the remedy par excellence for nervous, hysterical females who need building up."

First pacemaker used in Mt. Zion Hospital. Invented by Dr. Uhley, 1957.
External pacemaker, 1958

Dr. Herman N. Uhley (1926-2012) made this pacemaker from spare parts including tubes from a Sylvania television set for a total cost of $25.00. It was put into service when a 68-year-old male patient at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, California, would no longer respond to heart medication.

"The Perfect Heart Remedy… If your heart thumps after sudden effort, skips beats or flutters."
Trade Card, Kilmer’s Ocean-Weed. The front features an image of a ship while the back includes drug information.

"The Perfect Heart Remedy… If your heart thumps after sudden effort, skips beats or flutters."

Dr. Kilmer of Binghamton, New York, offered remedies for the cure of many Vital Organs: Ocean-Weed for the heart, Female Remedy and U. & O. Ointment for unmentionable internal and external areas, Indian Cough and Consumption Cure for the lungs, and Swamp Root for the kidneys, liver, and bladder.

Ocean-weed probably referred to a seaweed used as an ingredient in this preparation to calm a fluttering heart.

"Recommended in all cases of debility, functional heart disease, and as a general builder and restorer of bodily vigor."
Miracle Tablets, 1930s

"Recommended in all cases of debility, functional heart disease, and as a general builder and restorer of bodily vigor."

This product was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration in the 1930s. It would indeed be a miracle if these tablets did cure a diseased or broken heart.

One of the three prototypes Dr. Claude Beck invented to save lives of heart patients.
One of the three prototypes of a defibrillator Dr. Claude Beck invented to save lives of heart patients.

In 1947, Dr. Claude Beck became the first to successfully revive a patient by directly shocking the heart. He used a defibrillator of his own design. This object is one of three Beck prototypes known to exist.

Five more broken heart remedies can be found on Flickr or the in the slideshow below.

Mallory Warner has also blogged about the best bionic objects in the collection and historic hangover cures.

Posted at 9:00 am EST in From the Collections,Medicine and Science

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