Category: Student research

Auxiliary Label: Meat juice, the cure-all that built a Richmond fortune

A small bottle labeled "meat juice" and a drawing of a cow.
Each 2-ounce bottle of Valentine’s Meat Juice was made from 4 pounds of beef “exclusive of fat.”
Victoria Hammond
Auxiliary Label Staff

Richmond, home of VCU, is known for its excellent pharmacy and medical programs. But the city holds another legacy in health care: as the birthplace of a product that once was famous around the world as a source of health and nutrition.

That would be Valentine’s Meat Juice.

Meat juice was created in 1870 when Richmond resident Anna Marie Gray Valentine fell extremely ill, possibly with a form of stomach cancer. Her husband, businessman Mann S. Valentine Jr., prepared a drink from meat and water and gave it to her. After drinking this “meat-juice,” she felt better.

News spread quickly of her improvement. People wanted the juice, and the Valentine Meat Juice Company was born. Though Anna Marie Valentine died from her condition three years later, the public remained convinced the product had helped.

“It didn’t save her but it was a way to get her eating and gaining nutrition,” observed MckenZie Walker, volunteer programs manager for the Valentine Museum. The nonprofit Richmond history museum was founded by the Valentine family and has an extensive collection of meat-juice artifacts.

Valentine’s Meat Juice was advertised as a way to prevent nausea and promote digestion. Each 2-ounce bottle of meat juice contained the juice from 4 pounds of meat “exclusive of fat.” Patients were instructed to drink the juice “frequently and in small quantities … in preference to large draughts administered at longer periods of time.” The juice was said to be most effective when taken an hour before a meal.

The manufacturers also suggested using meat juice as an enema or to prevent seasickness. President Garfield used meat juice in his recovery from an attempted assassination. Many testimonials to use meat juice in medicinal practice can be found including this from J.B. McCaw, M.D., a well-known Virginia physician and namesake of VCU’s medical library who died in 1906: “Having used the ‘Meat Juice’ in many obstinate and almost hopeless cases of disease, I can confidently recommend it to the favorable consideration of the medical profession. … I am more and persuaded that we have gained by it a valuable dietetic.”

“It was a cure-all for everything, so whatever you were sick with you could buy meat juice for,” Walker said.

Valentine’s Meat Juice was popular not only in the United States but also in Europe. Valentine received awards at the 1876 International Exposition in Philadelphia, 1878 Paris Exposition, and the 1881 International Medical and Sanitary Exposition in London for his creation.

The product is similar to some being sold today as ways to improve health, Walker added. Bone broth, for example, is a popular tonic sold in health-food stores.

This product was available until 1986 when the company closed its factory doors after years of declining sales. The introduction of widely available over-the-counter vitamin supplements probably played a role in that, according to the Valentine Museum’s web page on meat juice.

The public’s taste changed too, Walker added: “Most people that I talk to say that just the name sounds repulsive to them.”

Today there are Richmond advocates who want to bring Valentine’s Meat Juice back to market. Why not? It made a fortune once before. Maybe it can again.


Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

Sources include:

  • Southern Planter and Farmer (1867-1881); Oct 1881; 42, 10; American Periodicals pg. 612
  • Valentine, M. (1873). A Brief History of the Production of Valentine’s Meat Juice Together With Testimonials of the Medical Profession. Richmond, VA: B.W. Gillis Steam Pressors.
  • Taylor, W H
 American Journal of Pharmacy (1835-1907); Jul 1873; American Periodicals pg. 325



Auxiliary Label: The ancient, mysterious history of pharmacy show globes

Pharmacy show globes: a tradition, a mysterious history

Show globes — large glass urns or vases filled with colored liquids — are found in many traditional pharmacies. What do they mean? Well, that depends. Victoria Hammond, Pharm.D. Class of 2020, investigates for the School of Pharmacy's Auxiliary Label blog of student life and research.

Posted by VCU School of Pharmacy on Thursday, December 6, 2018

By Victoria Hammond
Auxiliary Label Staff

Unless you have been to an apothecary museum or know someone who is a pharmacist, you probably have not heard of a show globe, but you may have seen one. Show globes are pieces of glassware that are often vase shaped and filled with colorful liquid, often seen in apothecary’s front window displays.

Show globes are ancient and have been symbols of pharmacy for a long time. They still are used today; in fact, in Pennsylvania it is illegal to display a show globe at a place of business that is not a pharmacy.

There are many theories about the purpose of show globes but nothing definite about their purpose is known.

One theory is thought to date from around the 16th century. Apothecaries needed a symbol to grab the attention of a mostly illiterate population. In this time period streets were crowded and needed a symbol that was bright, unique and easily recognizable to draw in business.  

Another theory suggests that show globes date as far back as Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain around 53 B.C.  According to the story, an apothecary was located across from a dock for boats. The apothecary would place lanterns behind multiple show globes which would guide boats carrying troops safely to shore.  When the troops arrived safely, the story goes, Caesar allowed all apothecaries to keep show globes in their front windows.

It has also been hypothesized that show globes were used to relay messages to travelers about the health in the town.  Red liquid in a show globe meant that there was an epidemic and to stay away from the town. Green liquid in a show globe would mean that all is well in the town. Another theory also hypothesizes that show globes were used to send messages but to sick individuals during the Great Plague of London. It is thought that the colored liquid would show where individuals could find medical care.  

The final hypothesis of show globes involves maceration. Maceration is a process that involves softening or breaking up solids through soaking into a liquid. It was thought that directions of maceration involved the process to be done in light in a container that could hold 2 to 3 gallons.  This process would normally be done in an area with the best light: the apothecary’s front window.

Not much is known about the purpose of show globes, but they continue to be a symbol of the profession and are a unique piece of pharmacy history.

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

About Auxiliary Label

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.


Nicole Carter has a BS in biochemistry with a minor in biology from Old Dominion University. She is currently pursuing her Pharm.D. from VCU. Her interests include ambulatory care, entrepreneurial pharmacy and horror films.

Photo of Nicole Carter

Torey Hammond is a third-year pharmacy student who studied at VCU before attending pharmacy school. Her interests include public health, geriatrics and cats.

Michael Ong, a third-year pharmacy student, is a graduate of Bucknell University and Virginia Commonwealth University with degrees in psychology and chemistry. His interests in pharmacy include public health and global health.

Christian Ruiz  is a third-year Pharm.D. student who majored in chemistry and minored in music and biology at VCU. His interests include emergency medicine, critical care and fishing.


Ask Dr. Rx: Simple steps to build stronger bones

Ask Dr. Rx: How can I avoid bone loss?

Dr. Rx gives smart advice on how to avoid osteoporosis, or bone loss. The monthly Dr. Rx column appears in Fifty Plus magazine and is a community service of the VCU School of Pharmacy.

Posted by VCU School of Pharmacy on Wednesday, September 5, 2018

By Kayla Sheets

Q: Osteoporosis is fairly common in my family. Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening to me? I don’t want to have a fall and break a bone.
A: Bones are living tissue and are constantly being remodeled. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose more mass than they gain during the remodeling process. While genetics play a major role in the development of osteoporosis, there are steps you can take to prevent its development.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to take any medications to build stronger bones. Instead, make some simple lifestyle changes you can begin today.
For starters, ensure you’re getting proper nutrients by eating a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, fruits, vegetables and protein. And avoid smoking and heavy alcohol intake as these can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Calcium: Postmenopausal women should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. For men, doctors recommend 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily for those 70 and younger and 1,200 milligrams a day for men older than 70.
Milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium. Your diet already may give you sufficient quantities of calcium, so speak with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a calcium supplement.
Vitamin D: Your body’s vitamin D requirement is 600 international units daily for adults through age 70 and 800 daily if you are over 70. Ideally, this comes from your diet. Great sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and foods specifically fortified with vitamin D. If you’re concerned you aren’t getting enough, you should speak with your doctor before starting a supplement.
Activity: It’s important to have an active lifestyle involving weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, hiking, tennis and dancing. These activities help your bones and muscles stay strong. Thirty minutes of exercise three to four times per week is recommended. However, everyone is different. Know your limits. Speak with your doctor to determine an exercise regimen that’s best for you.
Stay safe: If you or a loved one is at high risk for osteoporosis, falls are one of the biggest factors that lead to complications. Due to the frailty of bones, even a fall while standing can cause a breakage. Here are some simple ways to reduce the risk of falling:
– Remove/minimize tripping hazards in your home, such as unnecessary rugs or furniture in high traffic areas.
Install handrails on stairs.
– Install grab rails and non-slip bath mats in the bathroom.
– Make sure you have good lighting.
– Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you think one of your medications is making you dizzy or drowsy.
These small changes could have a big impact on your health. If you feel these steps are not enough, have a conversation with your doctor or pharmacist about your risk for osteoporosis and other options available for your individualized needs.
Kayla Sheets is a fourth-year Pharm.D. student at VCU School of Pharmacy. She majored in biology at The University of Virginia. Her areas of interest are internal medicine and critical care.

Dr. Rx is a monthly publication of the VCU School of Pharmacy. It can be read in Fifty Plus magazine, available at many outlets in the Richmond area and online via Beacon Newspapers. To submit a question or to request more information, contact us.

Dr. Rx: Diet and exercise are keys to heart health

By Tabitha Robinson

Q: My family doctor told me that I was at an increased risk of having a heart attack because I have a family history of heart disease. What can I do to reduce my risk?

A: There are many lifestyle changes that can be made to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Diet and exercise will be your mainstays.

You want to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains, and the healthy fats called omega-3 in your diet. You can find omega-3 in wild salmon and herring fish, shellfish, walnuts, canola oil and flaxseed. Fish-oil supplements containing omega-3 are also available. It is best to avoid salts, most fats, sweets and red meat — if you can’t avoid these foods, try to reduce your intake. The more variety in your diet, the better.

Studies show that regular exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, boosts HDL (your good cholesterol), and can reduce blood clots, thus reducing heart disease.

Walking is a great way to get exercise. Yoga and meditation can also help you relax and keep stress levels down. Being overweight can increase your risk for heart disease; these lifestyle changes can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Getting enough sleep and good sleep hygiene is a component that is often neglected. Limited amount of sleep can raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, thus increasing your risk of heart disease. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Cigarette smoking can increase your risk by raising your blood pressure. If you are an avid smoker, the first step is to start thinking about quitting. Your doctor can set you up with a support group or medication that can help you quit. Limiting alcohol is also a benefit. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both raise your risk of heart disease.

If you already have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, cholesterol and/or diabetes, it is important that you monitor and keep these under control. Make sure to always take your medications and check your blood pressure and/or blood sugar regularly. Report any changes to your doctor. High cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of heart attack or stroke. Taking cholesterol lowering medication, if prescribed, and diet and exercise changes can help keep cholesterol levels controlled.

There are some factors — such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, and family history — that you cannot change but are good to be aware of. The risk of heart disease increases with age. Studies show that African Americans are more at risk than whites. East Asians have a lower risk while South Asians have a higher risk. Hispanics are among the least likely to have heart disease. Family history plays major role, especially if you have a family member who had it at an early age.

Tabitha Robinson is a P4 Pharm.D. candidate at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy. Robinson is from Charles City, Virginia, and is a 2013 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds a B.S in biology and a minor in chemistry.

Dr. Rx is a monthly publication of the VCU School of Pharmacy. It can be read in Fifty Plus magazine, available at many outlets in the Richmond area and online via Beacon Newspapers. To submit a question or to request more information, contact us.

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