First marketed in the US 1875, Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound was an herbal medicine used by women to relieve menstrual discomfort and menopausal symptoms in women. The herbal compound was invented by Lydia Estes Pinkham in 1873 in her home kitchen in Lynn, Massachusetts. Pinkham created the compound by mixing alcohol with roots and herbs. The compound was patented, packaged, and distributed by the Mrs. Lydia Pinkham Medicine Company in 1876. The Mrs. Lydia Pinkham Medicine Company advertised the compound in many US newspapers and magazines, causing Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound to become a household name and making treatments for female reproductive discomfort mainstream in the US.
In 1873, during a US economic downturn, fifty-four year old Lydia Pinkham was concocting home remedies for illnesses using family recipes. According to Pinkham scholar Sarah Stage, the tradition of concocting medicines in the home was a common hobby for housewives during the nineteenth-century, when many people were suspicious of the expensive and often dangerous medications prescribed by doctors. Pinkham owned botanical remedy books and medical guides, including the herbal remedy guide, John King’s The American Dispensatory. Pinkham provided herbal remedies to her neighbors and friends for various ailments. As her remedies became more popular, strangers contacted her in search of her recipe. With help from her three sons, she started packaging and selling the compound as Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound for the treatment of menstrual discomfort.