Buckley’s Canadiol Mixture was first produced in Toronto in 1920 and was promoted as, “by far the largest selling cough mixture in all blizzardly cold Canada”.
It was a herbal formula which contained Irish moss, Balsam fir, menthol and capsicum with bits of chloroform, ammonium and saccharine thrown in for good measure.
Here in New Zealand, it was still available as recently as 2014 with newspaper advertisements still featuring drawings of uniformed ‘Mounties’ to promote the product.
It was a formula to help relieve bronchitis, coughs, colds, (‘really bad colds’), croup, laryngitis, whooping cough and was sugar free thanks to the addition of saccharine. The company rebranded the product in 1986 to say, ‘It tastes awful, but it works’.
With all herbal medicine, taste can be a stumbling block. Some herbs are bitter, some are sour, not many are sweet and some are downright unpalatable. This is all due to the separate chemical constituents in the plants in herbal teas or a herbal tinctures.
We have our very own version of Irish moss here in Aotearoa. Swept up on most New Zealand beaches after a high tide or storm surge, seaweed has been gathered by Kiwi gardeners to keep the soil in their veggie gardens chock full of vitamins and minerals.
You’ve likely chewed on seaweed wrapped around a sushi roll, but few of us would consider picking up a bag of the stuff at the grocery store.
It might be time for a change. Seaweed is filled with antioxidants, calcium and a broad range of vitamins and minerals such as iodine.
We have species such as wakame, karengo and sea lettuce which can be used in the same way as Irish moss to relieve inflammation in the lungs. Identification is key, as the same is when foraging mushrooms, and there are many seaweed guides online.