An apothecary was a drugstore owner who sometimes doubled as a physician or surgeon, depending on how available medical care was in the area. These workers attempted to treat customers’ maladies with medicines that they’d either made or imported. A customer suffering from headaches might be given some coffee beans, as it was understood that coffee could help some (but not all) people’s headaches. A customer suffering from what we now call malaria might receive “Peruvian bark.” This medicine used bark from cinchona trees—which are native to the South American Andes—that contains quinine, which was one of the best treatments for malaria at the time.
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