Dr. Pierce's Pleasant Pellets

Dr R V pierce

Dr Ray Vaughn Pierce (pictured, courtesy of Project Gutenberg) was an über-quack whose laboratory in  Buffalo, NY, produced millions of dollars worth of patent remedies. As well as the Pleasant Pellets shown below, there were Dr Pierce’s Anuric Tablets, Dr Pierce’s Favorite Prescription, Dr Pierce’s Vaginal Tablets, Dr Pierce’s Extract of Smart-Weed and Dr Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery – a licorice-flavoured tonic that reportedly contained quinine, opium and alcohol and was advertised as giving men “an appetite like a cow-boy’s and the digestion of an ostrich.”

Pierce ran an opulent hotel for invalids, the first incarnation of which burnt down in 1881. The rebuilt hotel is said to have included among its guests the Sundance Kid and Etta Place in 1901.

 His company, the World’s Dispensary Medical Association, gave away freebies such as calendars and notebooks to advertise the products, and Pierce’s own book, The People’s Common Sense Medical Adviser in Plain English, was a vehicle for recommending his own medicines. As well as the laboratory in Buffalo, the company had a British branch at Great Russell Street, London.

Dr Pierce was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1878 and served one term. After his death in 1914 his son, Dr Valentine Mott Pierce, continued the business and Pierce products were still available as late as the 1970s.


                    Falling Off A Log.
“As  easy  as  falling   off   a  log,”  is  an
old saying.   When  it  was  first   uttered
nobody knows.   Nothing  is  easier,  un-
less   it  is  the  taking  of  a  dose  of  Dr.
Pierce’s  Pleasant   Pellets.   These   act
like  magic.   No   griping   or   drenching
follows, as is the case with  the  old  fash-
ioned   pills.   The  relief  that  follows  re-
sembles the action of Nature  in  her hap-
piest moods; the impulse given to the dor-
mant   liver  is  of  the  most salutary kind,
and is speedily manifested  by the disap-
pearance  of  all  bilious symptoms.  Sick
headache,   wind   on the  stomach,  pain
through   the   right   side   and   shoulder-
blade,  and   yellowness of  the skin  and
eyeballs    are    all   remedied   by   the


Source: The Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio) Friday 8 April 1892


  1. I aquired a “vial” of Dr. Pierce’s pleasant pellets around 10 years ago from some odds and ends family items my aunt had saved for many years. I would love to know in what year(s) they were produced.

    KL in Mpls

    • I was given a copy by a friend ” The Peoples Common Sense Medical Medical Adviser ; by R. V. Pierce M. D. There were many testimonials in the book praising his medications . I did not realize he was considered a quack till I just looked him up trying to find out what was in his prescriptions . I did not expect to find anything .Some of those old remedies really did help .

  2. Joe Floyd Williams

    Can somebody tell me the ingredients of “DR. PIERCE’S FAVORITE PRESCRIPTION”?

    • Hi Joe,

      The Favorite Prescription contained savin (a species of juniper), cinchona, agaric, cinnamon, acacia, sugar, anise oil, tincture of digitalis, opium, alcohol and water. This is according to a recipe given in the Western Druggist and quoted by Charles Oleson in his book Secret Nostrums and Systems of Medicine.

      Best wishes,

  3. I have a Dr. Pierce’s Anuric Tablets bottle in perfect condition. The short bio on him leads me to believe he was a perfect candidate for congress!!!!! Thanks. Charlie Scott.

  4. I have a copy of an advertisement for Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets, from the May 22, 1919 Toledo Weekly Blade. In the ad it says Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets contain May-apple, leaves of aloe, and root of jalap.

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  6. I have an 1800’s copper printing plate.
    I have been looking on the internet for day’s, and can’t find anything on it.
    It has indented in it, backwards……..

    For Constipation
    Pleasant Pellets

    Where can I find more information on it ?

    Thank you for your time,


  7. I put the wrong e-mail address on the first comment sumited.

    I have an 1800’s copper printing plate.
    I have been looking on the internet for day’s, and can’t find anything on it.
    It has indented in it, backwards……..

    For Constipation
    Pleasant Pellets

    Where can I find more information on it ?

    Thank you for your time,


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  9. I have a blue glass bottle that is labelled Dr.Pierces Anuric tablets. What is the value of the bottle?

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  13. A Dr. Hager analyzed this remedy as well as Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery & could well have been in error of his analyses by claiming either one of these remedy’s contained opium. Dr. Pierce met an affidavit declaring ” there is not at the present time, nor has there ever been, any alcohol,opium,chloral cocaine or other narcotic used as ingredients in Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery or Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription”.

  14. I have a pamphlet of ladies handbook with the advertisement of the doctors smart weed in it, along with some helpful remedies of the time, mostly quackery but very interesting to see what people used to rely on for illness…the year on the cover is 1887

  15. Faced with the lack of The Great Physician, I’d also turn to Doc Pierce… Amen-Ra?

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