Dr Pierce's Nasal Douche



This Cut illustrates the manner of Using
Fountain Nasal Injector
This instrument is specially designed for the perfect application of
It is the only form of instrument yet invented with which fluid medicine can be carried high up and perfectly applied to all parts of the affected nasal passage, and the chambers or cavities communicating therewith, in which sores and ulcers frequently exist, and from which the catarrhal discharge generally proceeds. The want of success in treating Catarrh heretofore has arisen largely from the impossibility of applying remedies to these cavities and chambers by any of the ordinary methods. This obstacle in the way of effecting cures is entirely overcome by the invention of the Douche. In using this instrument, the Fluid is carried by its own weight, (no snuffing, forcing or pumping being required,) up one nostril in a full gently flowing stream to the highest portion of the nasal passages, passes into and thoroughly cleanses all the tubes and chambers connected therewith, and flows out of the opposite nostril. Its use is pleasant, and so simple that a child can understand it. Full and explicit directions accompany each instrument. When used with this instrument, Dr. Sage’s Catarrh Remedy cures recent attacks of “Cold in the Head” by a few applications.
Symptoms of Catarrh. Frequent head-ache, discharge falling into throat, sometimes profuse, watery, thick mucus, purulent, offensive, &c. In others a dryness, dry, watery, weak or inflamed eyes, stopping up or obstruction of nasal passages, ringing in ears, deafness, hawking and coughing to clear throat, ulcerations, scabs from ulcers, voice altered, nasal twang, offensive breath, impaired or total deprivation of sense of smell and taste, dizziness, mental depression, loss of appetite, indigestion, enlarged tonsils, tickling cough, &c. Only a few of these symptoms are likely to be present in any case at one time.
Dr. Sage’s Catarrh Remedy, when used with Dr. Pierce’s Nasal Douche, and accompanied with the constitutional treatment which is recommended in the pamphlet that wraps each bottle of the Remedy, is a perfect specific for this loathsome disease, and the proprietor offers, in good faith, $500 reward for a case he can not cure. The Remedy is mild and pleasant to use, containing no strong or caustic drugs or poisons. The Catarrh Remedy is sold at 50 cents, Douche at 60 cents, by all Druggists, or either will be mailed by proprietor on receipt of 60 cents. R. V. PIERCE, M.D., Sole Proprietor. BUFFALO, N.Y.

Source: The Indiana Progress 25 April 1872


We’ve met Dr Ray Vaughn Pierce before as the promoter of the Pleasant Pellets. A big-business quack, he sold enormous quantities of his remedies, which included the Golden Discovery, the Extract of Smart Weed and the Vaginal Tablets.

For the treatment of catarrh, Pierce recommended Dr Sage’s Catarrh Remedy in conjunction with the Nasal Injector. Strangely enough, the business address for Dr Sage’s remedy was exactly the same as that for Pierce’s other products – the World Medical Association in Buffalo, NY.

An 1890s ad for the Catarrh Remedy included the following picture:

Lilly and her beau

The ad continues:

“That’s what I call making glad the waist places,” said Smithson, as he put his arm around a lady’s waist. But Lilly won’t care much for this show of affection if Smithson doesn’t get rid of that disagreeable catarrh of his.

The waste/waist joke wasn’t very original, but I sympathise with both Lilly and her bunged-up beau.

Instructions for using the Nasal Douche appear in Pierce’s popular book, The People’s Common Sense Medical Adviser.

Before using the Catarrh Remedy, you had to clear out the nasal passages by taking one quart of soft water, dissolving two large tablespoons of salt into it, then heating it to body temperature – in other words ‘until it gives a pleasant, mild warmth to the inserted finger.’

The douche reservoir had to be elevated just above your head, then you would take the tube and put the nozzle into one nostril, up which the pressure would make the fluid flow in a ‘gentle stream.’

According to the book,

The douche should not be employed unless both nostrils are open and the flow is free. If the head is ‘stopped up,’ snuff up the warm liquid from the hand occasionally, until the passages are open and you can breathe freely through both nostrils.

In which case, one might be forgiven for wondering what’s the problem! If, however, you got this far, it was time to introduce Dr Sage’s Catarrh Remedy to the mixture. Once you were used to the Injector, you could put the reservoir on a higher shelf to create a stronger flow. The procedure should be carried out at least twice a day but preferably no more than three times. For anyone nervous about squirting liquid up their nostrils, reassurance was available:

Let no one entertain any feeling of timidity on commencing the use of this instrument, as its operation is perfectly simple and harmless, and, with the fluids which we recommend, is never attended with any strangling, choking, pain, or other disagreeable sensations.

If you didn’t use up all the liquid in the reservoir, you could pour it back into the bottle – but the book recommended that if the liquid had passed through the nasal cavity, it would contain the germs of the disease and therefore should not be used a second time.


  1. Utterly fascinating! As a modern sufferer of sinus problems, I’m astonished that such a remedy was available in the 1870’s. Check out NeilMed, which my daughter and I use daily for our stupid sinuses – it’s essentially the same thing, which claims to have been recently invented!

    Thanks for another great post.

    • I hope you get some relief from the NeilMed. About a year ago I had a sinus infection and a neighbour helpfully said ‘once you’ve got sinus problems, you never get rid of them.’ So that cheered me up.

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