Wake Up Your Liver Bile, 1950

Who among us can say with confidence that their liver is freely pouring out two pints of liquid bile into their bowels daily? For those in doubt (and living in 1950), there’s Carters Little Liver Pills. The very next year, Carter had to drop the “liver” from their name in the US as the Federal Trade Commission found that while they were an “irritative laxative” (with one of their ingredients described as “drastic”), they actually had “no medicinal effect on the liver”. I think you can still get Carters Little Pills in the US, but in the UK, Dulcolax is the modern version.

The mention of being “without Calomel” is reassuring. Despite the appealing-sounding name (which could derive from the Greek words for “beautiful” and “honey” due to its sweet taste), Calomel is actually mercury chloride. In the first half of the twentieth century it was used as a laxative, a disinfectant, a remedy for syphilis, and (anxiety-inducingly) as a teething powder for babies.

As you can imagine from a mercury compound, it was toxic. In the teething babies it could cause a type of mercury poisoning called “pink disease” which was painful and caused pink discolouration of the hands and feet. The mortality rate for pink disease was a horrifying 1 in 10. After discovery of the toxidity of the compound, it wasn’t used in teething powders after 1954.

Gloucester Citizen, 6th October 1950

Gloucester Citizen, 6th October 1950


Without Calomel – and you’ll jump out of your bed in the morning full of vim and vigour.

The liver should pour out two pints of liquid bile into your bowels daily. If this bile is not flowing freely, your food doesn’t digest. You get headaches and feel rotten. You get constipated. Your whole system is poisoned and you feel sour, slack and the world looks black.

Laxatives help a little, but a mere bowel movement doesn’t get at the cause. It takes those good old Carters Little Liver Pills to get those two pints of bile flowing freely and make you feel “up and up”. Harmless, gentle, yet amazing in making bile flow freely. Ask for Carters Little Liver Pills. Stubbornly refuse anything else. 1/7 and 3/10. Also new 3 1/2d. sizes.

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