Asthma, Not Cystic Fibrosis

I remember when I was around 5-6 years of age that I had lots of breathing problems. At the time I think the doctor (Dr. Conover if I remember correctly) said that I should NOT be sleeping on a feather pillow. Regardless of taking away my feather pillow, I continued to have these breathing attacks. Of course they called it asthma, but at one point in my childhood they became worse and worse and eventually I was admitted to the hospital.

I don’t have total recall about all the events of being in the hospital, however I do remember Dr. Conover telling my Mom they suspected Cystic Fibrosis. I also remember her going to a payphone and calling someone (I don’t remember who) and telling them it was possible I had Cystic Fibrosis. Luckily as it turns out I did not have CF…just a severe case of asthma.

So for the rest of my adolescent years I was treated off and on for asthma. One thing I remember all too well was when I was having difficulty breathing and my Dad would “treat” me with one of the recommendations back in early 1960’s with something called “Asthmador”. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Asthmador:

Asthmador was a non-presciption treatment for the relief of bronchial asthma made by the R. Schiffmann Company. It consisted of a mixture of belladonna, stramonium and potassium perchlorate, and was a fine powder intended to be burned and the smoke inhaled. The primary alkaloid present in the mixture was hyoscyamine, and when the powder was ingested rather than burned, could be used to induce hallucinations. In severe overdose it could hospitalize the patient or cause death.

Prior to the introduction of rescue inhalers in the mid-1950s this was an effective over-the-counter remedy for asthma attacks. Asthmador was sold in packets like cigarettes, in tins like pipe tobacco, or as an incense. The paroxysms would abate after a few minutes of the victim inhaling the mixture.

This was a putrid smelling stuff that was lit on fire and the “patient” was made to sit in asthmadorfront of this smoking pile of STUFF and inhale it. I can still remember Dad would make a heaping pile of it on the coffee table and then make me hover over it and inhale it. Looking back, I’m not really sure it helped and may have very well been an antagonist to my asthma. It probably didn’t help that both Mom and Dad were chain smokers at the time (later in life they both quit).

When it was all said and done, the doctors back then told my Mom that I would more than likely grow out of the disease, but that it would return later in life. And I did continue to have issues with my asthma off and on for years to come. In fact, up until I was about 35 years old I would still have “attacks” on average about once a year, and I still don’t know what triggered them.

But the last time I had an asthma attack was more than 25 years ago…I guess I finally grew out of the asthma. Now I wonder if it will return in my golden years…I actually think the doctors were wrong and I don’t think it will come back since it’s been so long from the last attack.

This entire blog post was because I saw that old GREEN CAN of Asthmador.


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