Six months before the Senate passed the 18th Amendment banning "intoxicating liquors,” the American Medical Association proclaimed that alcohol’s "use in therapeutics as a tonic or stimulant or for food has no scientific value."
Two years later, Prohibition had successfully lured millions of principled citizens into the highly lucrative, illegal liquor trade. That included physicians. Under the 1919 Volstead Act, doctors could easily procure special permits from commissioners, which allowed them to prescribe “Spiritus Frumenti” for medicinal purposes. There was no new study refuting the American Medical Association’s 1917 contention, and yet, during Prohibition, doctors wrote far more prescriptions for alcohol than ever before.
What was Nancy Rooker’s malady? Her prescription, which can be purchased for $295 from the Early American History Store, did not require such detailed information. Perhaps the resident of Baltimore, Maryland exhibited symptoms related to typhoid or heart disease. Lethargy, anxiety, or indigestion would have done just fine as well.
Dr. Otto Prickhardt was more specific on a supplementary note in 1931, writing “This is to certify that the post-accident concussion of Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times.”