Omega Oil

Old People

Minneapolis Journal, 8 Nov 1901

 

The Omega Oil company, which had London and US branches, had its work cut out to get the product noticed among pages of attractive pictorial adverts. But get noticed they did. The constant flow of new designs together with the unique selling point – It’s green – helped create a long-lasting brand. And there really are loads of ad designs. The ones shown here are just examples, but illustrate the theme - real people use this product. Some ads invited the reader to send off for a 'thrilling pamphlet' that told the story of the liniment’s European origins. This story also appeared in some newspapers. An un-named American businessman, who is presumably the company's proprietor, Michael Winburn, relates the tale of his holiday in Paris, where his wife falls out of a carriage and breaks her ankle. After weeks of ineffective medical treatment, the couple remove to a quiet village in Switzerland where a local woman says she knows what will help:
...we waited a day, and the next morning the woman came with a queer-looking green oil in a bottle. This she rubbed on my wife's ankle. In about two hours, my wife said— 'Why, my foot feels all right now,' and she stood up and walked.
Corset Pains

Minneapolis Journal 20 March 1901

The narrator eventually persuades the woman's grandfather to sell him the recipe, and on his return to America, has it analysed by a chemist who pronounces it 'the best preparation he had ever seen in his life for curing pain.' The secret ingredient proves to be a rare herb that grows only in a certain part of Switzerland. On his next European travels, our hero comes down with a terrible cold - his wife remembers the bottle of green oil, rubs some on his chest and in two hours he's fine. Their little girl's tonsilitis disappears just as quickly. They realise they have a wonder-product on their hands and resolve to bring it to the attention of sufferers everywhere – apparently investing a lot of cash in setting up the business. The investment paid off. This and Winburn's other company, Cadum Soap,  made him a millionaire. ‘It is no more like other liniments’ says the narrator, ‘than high noon is like midnight.’
It's Green

Minneapolis Journal 28 Nov 1901

The miraculous little green herb was possibly henbane, but fortunately it was in very small quantities – the main ingredients were chloroform, oil of wintergreen and mineral oil. Oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate) is still a component of deep-heat liniments today and I imagine that sufferers did feel the benefit of this sweet-smelling emerald liquid. It got on the wrong side of the FDA in 1942, when it was judged misbranded because of the exaggerated claims, but this didn't kill off the product - it is still available in some countries today. Cadum Soap, meanwhile, went on to become a major French company who are now so very cool, hip and trendy that they even have flash and music on their homepage.
Omega Oil

Leeds Mercury 13 June 1900

Winburn died in 1930 and his widow married Edouard Renard, who later became the Governor General of French Equatorial Africa. The couple came to a sticky end when their plane crashed in the Congo jungle in 1935. Mme Renard's jewel case, with contents estimated at $390,000, disappeared. The bodies lay for days among the wreckage, until the bits that hadn't been eaten by wild animals were found and shipped back to France.   Look here!UPDATE: Many people have been asking whether it is still possible to buy Omega Oil. The following product appears to have a similar formula and is available cheaply on Amazon: Omega Pain Killer Liniment Fast Relief from Arthritis, Joints and Muscle Pain 60ml

32 Comments:

  1. The ickky tidbit at the end is just wonderful — for spicing up the story that is, not for the Renards.

    • Yes, I was pleased to find that gruesome detail. Even then, the papers were referring to Mme Renard as ‘widow of the Soap King.’

  2. New post at the Quack Doctor. Omega Oil – it’s green: http://thequackdoctor.com/index.php/the-… #history

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  4. Claire Thirlwall

    I love the fact that the major selling point is “It is GREEN!” Wonderful. No one can argue about that aspect of the claim. Lovely post, thank you.

    • Yes, for all the wild claims about cures, that one at least was true! By the sounds of it, it was a lovely rich emerald green – must have been an attractive product.

      • I had my shoulder massaged with Omega Oil by a woman “with very good hands” when I was about nine years old. I suffered with bursitis. The masseuse worked my shoulder for about twenty minutes. My pain was drastically reduced in that time, and dwindled down to nothing within the next six to eight hours. Remembering that great experience, I went to Walgreen’s tonight, looking for a bottle of the green stuff to use on my seriously stressed neck muscles, and not even the pharmacist had ever heard of it! My mother always had a bottle in her bathroom cupboard. She was born in 1930, and raised by relatives born in the late 1890’s. It’s great stuff. My father, born in 1928, also used it before and after softball games and practices. The woman “with very good hands” was a natural healer in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, a woman said by some to be a “witch,” but known by my grandmother to be a woman who knew how to heal with her hands. Buy Omega Oil–it’s great stuff!

        • Hi Barbara! What a great memory you have! I’m working on a multimedia project about fading signs in NYC and the Omega sign up in Harlem is one of the great ones. I wonder if you would be willing to speak with me about your experiences with the product? you can reach me on my email! Look forward to hearing from you. best, Rachel

  5. I’m 53, and grew up with Omega Oil being put into service for every ache and pain. I never much cared for the strong smell, but it did provide warmth on sore muscles. My mother was a firm believer in its properties. She died in 1998, and there is still a bottle of Omega Oil in my medicine cabinet. I don’t use it, but every time I open the cabinet I’m reminded of her and I smile.

    • I would love to see a photo of the bottle, Grace, if you’d like to send one – my email is caroline (at) thequackdoctor.com

  6. It states in the article that it is still available in some countries today. Does anybody know where it can still be purchased? My mother used this all the time and calls it her Miracle Medicine. She still has some but hardly uses it because we can’t find it anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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  8. I am still looking for a source. I have a small amount but use it very sparingly since there is not much left. This bottle was purchased in the late 40’s and it still works for me. Any help in finding more would be appreciated.

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  10. I found an empty bottle and tried to find out how old it is. The bottle is listed as The Omega Chemical co. Boston Mass. It also says omega oil it’s green in side a leaf pattern. Looks like it took a small cork to close it. I didn’t come with anything listed in Boston. Any idea’s? Thanks.

  11. My British grandparents came over about 1900 and my dad swore by Omega Oil. He would rub it on my chest enthusiastically & until almost raw, bury me deep in quilts etc., feed me hot soup/drinks until I was sweating like a trooper. After two to three days of this I would emerge the new boy. It was the only treatment my folks ever used for persistent chest colds. The combination worked over the years. My kingdom for a supply of Omega Oil today. Help us out here if you can and Thanks.

  12. Back in the early 60’s my father came home from work where he wrenched his back and told our neighbor he was unable to go bowling that evening. Our neighbor went home and came back with some Omega Oil told my mom to get some hot towells ready. Got my dad on the floor and started rubbing Omega Oil on his back. Then put hot towells on his back and changed them a couple times and when he was done of course dad went bowling. From then on there was always at least a bottle of Omega Oil in the house. But I can’t find it now…. what happened to it?
    The reason I started looking for it on the internet was my sister gave me a roll-on bottle of what is called Biofreeze that she had to get a prescription from her Dr for it. The smell reminded me soooo much like Omega Oil. So that’s how I found this page…. does anyone know where to find it?????

  13. It’s great to hear these reminiscences of Omega Oil! I’m not sure whether it is still possible to get the product – I remember finding some online suppliers back when I wrote this post, but it might be worth you getting in touch with the Cadum company to see if it is still available:
    http://www.cadum.co.uk/

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  15. I was a dancer and used Omega Oil a lot for the sore and pulled muscles. It worked miracles. I used to find it at Walgreen’s but not any more. I would really like to find an outlet for it.

  16. As an active child in the early 1960s I was plagued with leg aches quite often. My grandmother would rub Omega oil on my legs, and it felt soooo good. I don’t know if it was the oil, the warmth it brought, or just the rubbing, but the pain always went away soon after she did that. I still think of her every time I smell wintergreen. I love it. I’d also love to find a bottle of this emerald green miracle cure. It seemed to always work as expected. My husband and I could both use it today!

  17. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and we went through numerous bottles in my families home. It was used on my fathers aching muscles from construction work, on the legs of us kids when we had leg aches and growing cramps and most importantly it was superb when drawing the blood poisoning out of a badly infected cut or puncture wound. We lived on a rural farm with animals and livestock and we ran around bare foot all summer. You can imagine the cuts and gashes we suffered not to mention stepping on old rusty nails etc. I have a half bottle I discovered in my fathers farm house after he passed this last year. It is a true treasure but am internet searching to find more and will post any positive results.

    • I too grew up in a household that swore by Omega Oil for virtually every kind of sore muscle we had. Gramps even used it on our hounds that came in limping from over-exertion.
      The reply of having it used for chest colds brought back many memories of those lying in bed all bundled-up with Omega Oil on their chests whenever family members had a bout.
      Sure wish I could locate a source for it these days because it was one product that really
      worked !
      Thanks for some great remembrances . . . . I can smell the Omega Oil right now !

      • Since I made this posting I found a supplier for a product with similar ingredients
        found in the original Omega Oil. It is called Omega Pain killer Liniment and is sold through
        http://WWW.PinoyOutlet.com and I’m going to order some. Thought those of you might be interested

  18. Where in the UK can I buy some or online please

  19. I had terrible “growing pains” when I was a child. I always had a bottle of Omega Oil close by. As soon as I rubbed it on my legs, the pains went away! This stuff was great. I would love to find some!

  20. where can I get a bottle

  21. I’m 62. My grandmother lived with us as I was growing up. She used it regularly, and I started using it for sore muscles or when I twisted an ankle. I thought it smelled terrible, but it worked great! (I never tried it as a chest rub or anything like that.) I would most likely but it again if I found it.

  22. Just like all the other readers I would like to know where I could get it. Maybe not Omega Oil but something similar that would work like that. I don’t consider her The Quack she is the smart one. Please let me know where it is and under what label. I have used it for forty years and need some more desparately.

  23. I stll have some sitting in my cupboard that my mum brought from Ghana on one of her visits, My daughter always suffered with a snotty nose so out of desperation I pour a few drops in her bath one day to have steam bath. It worked, that was the end of her symptoms.

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