Debility Cured by Bile Beans After Hospital Treatment Failed to Relieve – Mrs. Ellen Moore – 12 Bray Street Erskineville

Bile Beans for Biliousness


A Disordered Liver, if not attended to, very often brings in its train serious results. The stomach, the digestive organs, and the kidneys become lax in their duties. Pimples and blotches appear, and the complexion generally assumes a nasty sallow tint. All the symptoms of Liver Disorder are too numerous to mention, but the most common are pains in the back, especially after eating, difficulty in breathing, a general feeling of depression and discontent, and loss of appetite. A disordered liver needs to be corrected in a natural and easy manner, and not by taking strong purgatives, mineral salts, or other injurious preparations. The finest natural vegetable remedy known to medical science in this century is Bile Beans for Biliousness. They cure all disorders of the liver quite easily and naturally. They also cure permanently by righting first causes; and for this reason there is absolutely nothing else that is “just as good.”

Evening News (Sydney) Tuesday, 2 August 1904

The following case of Mrs. Ellen Moore, of 12 Bray-street, Erskineville, Sydney, is a fitting illustration of the marvellous efficacy of Bile Beans in curing the most severe forms of liver disorder and the multitude of ailments arising from such. This lady says:—

“Some seven years ago I was troubled with very severe pains in the small of my back, accompanied by constipation, a poor appetite, and a worn-out feeling, making me feel very miserable and entirely unfitted for my household duties, and in time my system became completely debilitated. For some time I was an out-patient at the hospital, but I was told that I could only be patched up, as I had a congested liver. It was then that I decided to give Bile Beans a trial, having heard of their great efficacy for liver disorders. The first few doses made a great improvement in my condition, and, continuing with the course, the pains quickly left me, I regained my lost appetite, and was quickly restored to health and vigor. Asthma has also fallen to my lot, but I find Bile Beans afford me great relief, and have every hope that by continuing with them I will, in time, be rid of this distressing complaint. One of my daughters suffers occasionally from Neuralgia, and I find a dose of Bile Beans speedily brings her relief. I will never be without such a valuable medicine in the house, and will always recommend Bile Beans to fellow sufferers, and will be glad at any time to answer any queries in regard to my statements which might prove of value to others.”

Bile Beans Have you a healthy liver

Advertisements featuring the story of Mrs. Moore’s return to health and vigor have been identified from the beginning of 1903 until the end of 1910, and have been identified in newspapers across Australia (and New Zealand). Mrs. Moore’s story appeared on hundreds of occasions over the years.

Most often, the advertisements appeared unadorned in a newspaper column in plain text (like this example from the Lithgow Mercury of Tuesday 3 February 1903). 

The advertisements also regularly appeared with some embellishments including a border and the Bile Beans trade mark, like the example on the right from the Freeman’s Journal of 28 February 1907.

The prolific publication and geographic reach of the newspapers featuring the story of Mrs. Ellen Moore suggest that her story was a compelling one, and a good driver of sales of Bile Beans.

Mrs. Moore’s array of symptoms certainly made her a good candidate to attest to the efficacy of Bile Beans given their claim to ‘have been proved an undoubted specific for biliousness, indigestion, constipation, piles, bad blood, pimples and all skin eruptions, bad breath, debility, fullness after eating, nervousness, dyspepsia, sick and nervous headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, insomnia, summer fag, and a host of other ailments that owe their origin to defective bile flow, assimilation, and digestion.’

Mrs. Moore’s testimony also appeared many times over the years accompanied by illustrations, and were sometimes accompanied by the testimony of others in similar predicaments, each suffering from a wide range of ailments and afflictions, and attesting to the surprising and rapid return to health when the efforts of medical professionals had previously yielded no improvement in their condition.

The first of these illustrated examples features a lonely and sorrowful looking representation of Mrs. Moore, seemingly steeling herself to enter the out-patients clinic, eyes cast downward, the threshold of the clinic an almost overwhelming barrier to the treatment that will not bring her any respite. A sympathetic nurse can be seen peering out from within:

Bile Beans for Biliousness Erskineville 1903.pngSunday Times (Sydney) Sunday, 4 January 1903

The early advertisements also contain a small section dedicated to ‘Zam-Buk’ – ‘A soothing balm and embrocation, entirely free from all animal fats and minerals, and will be found a certain cure for cuts, ulcers, abscesses, bad legs, suppurating breasts, boils, burns, eczema, erysipelas, neuralgia, inflamed and swollen glands, goitre, sprains, piles, fistula, ringworm, sore feet, shingles, swollen and stiffened joints, poisoned wounds, scurf, scrofulous enlargements, and all forms of skin disease or muscular affections.’

More information about Zam-Buk can be found in the testimony of Mr. Albert Nutt of Ashmore Street Erskineville

We next find illustrated examples of the advertisement incorporating a depiction representing Mrs. Ellen Moore asleep in a chair, propped up with a pillow:

Bile Beans Erskineville 1903

Evening News (Sydney) Wednesday, 7 January 1903

Across all the years, the advertisements depict scenes of exhaustion and desperation, rather than depictions of health and vitality illustrative of a triumphant return to health.

The next two advertisements feature the testimonies of several people returned to health by Bile Beans within a single advertisement. The testimony of Mrs. Moore appeared many times as one of several combined within a single advertisement. These advertisements feature Mrs. Moore as the leading statement in each:

Bile Beans Walking Advertisements 1903

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Monday, 9 March 1903

Bile Beans - He Bears Glad Tidings 1903

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Thursday, 16 April 1903

The next example shows an updated image, now depicting a women with her head in her arms, a picture of pensive sadness and misery:

Bile Beans For Biliousness - Liver Disorders - Erskineville 1903

The World’s News (Sydney) Saturday, 25 April 1903

The following variation to the series of illustrations shows a despondent women, seated with her head in her hands, being consoled by a young boy:

Congested Liver Bile Beans Erskineville 1904.png

The World’s News (Sydney) Saturday, 20 February 1904

With a nod to the original advertisement we see a depiction of Mrs. Moore approaching the entrance to the out-patients clinic. Needing assistance to walk, a concerned nurse looks out from the entrance to a downcast-looking patient:

Liver Troubles Bile Beans Erskineville 1905.png

The World’s News (Sydney) Saturday 21 January 1905

The next advertisement sees the inclusion of a picture of the Bile Beans packaging as a counterpoint to the despondent image representing the plight of Mrs. Moore:

Have you a healthy liver Bile Beans for Biliousness Erskineville 1905.png

Sunday Times (Sydney) Sunday, 13 August 1905

Next, and with some pretty gnarly border treatment, we see an illustration of a woman holding her side, and steadying herself on a chair:

Liver troubles deemed incurable Bile Beans Erskineville 1905.png

The World’s News (Sydney) Saturday, 16 September 1905

The following advertisement neatly incorporates the illustration of our worn-out protagonist into the nook of the advertisement’s title:

Liver disorders pronounced incurable Bile Beans Erskineville 1908.png

Sunday Times (Sydney) Sunday, 5 January 1908

There is no illustration associated with the following advertisement featuring Mr. Moore, but it shows how the advertisements were designed to appeal to housewives:

Bile Beans restore health and energy to ailing housewives Erskineville 1909.png

Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, 9 February 1909

The following advertisement contains a good illustration of the long-suffering Mrs. Moore, tortured by the pains in her back:

A Sydney Lady's Speedy Cure Bile Beans Erskineville 1910.png

Sunday Times (Sydney) Sunday, 6 February 1910

Finally, and towards the end of the run of advertisements featuring Mrs. Ellen Moore, we have one last form of illustrated advertisement:

Bile Beans are the true liver medicine Bile Beans Erskineville 1910.png

Sunday Times (Sydney) Sunday, 4 September 1910

Despite the longevity of the advertisements, they are never substantially revised to incorporate an update as to the continued good health of Mrs. Moore.

Bile Beans for Biliousness one bean one dose nature's own vegetable remedy

A check of the Sands Directories and Assessment Books for Erskineville shows Mrs. Ellen Moore as the owner and occupier of 12 Bray Street Erskineville from around 1900 to 1911.

12 Bray Street Erskineville.png

12 Bray Street Erskineville (Source: Google Street View Sept 2016)

Although Mrs. Moore makes reference to a daughter suffering from Neuralgia, at this time there is no available evidence to link Mrs. Moore to any other person by name, that may allow for a search of the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages, in order to determine whether Mrs. Moore lived a long life, the name of her children, or whether any connection existed between Mrs. Ellen Moore of Bray Street and Mrs. Charlotte Moore of 63 Prospect Street Erskineville who also testified to the efficacy of Bile Beans in 1913.

Scattered amongst several Bile Beans advertisements featuring Mrs. Moore are various scientific claims that seek to inform the reader of the medical basis of Bile Beans:

BILE BEANS FOR BILIOUSNESS are the product of a modern scientific research, and therefore thoroughly up-to-date. They do not merely purge, giving temporary relief only, and leaving the patient weakened, like the out-of-date so-called remedies of forty or fifty years ago, which contain probably aloes, mercury, and other harmful drugs. Bile Beans, without the slightest discomfort, prompt the liver and digestive organs to act in nature’s normal way, leaving those organs strengthened and stimulated to continue the performance of their duties without further assistance. They produce a gentle action on the bowels, curing or preventing constipation, cleansing the stomach, and ridding the system of all impurities. Do not be mislead by claims of half a hundred pills in a box, where probably four to six constitute a dose and the doses cannot be discontinued. One Bile Bean is one dose. They can be discontinued after the cure is effected; they are purely vegetable; they do not contain any harmful drugs, and they are the safest family medicine.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) Monday, 7 December 1903

Another advertisement, appearing some years later contained an analysis (of sorts) from a qualified source:

It is a well-known fact that medical men, scientists, analysts, nurses, and representatives of the press throughout the world have testified that Bile Beans possess all the qualities claimed for them. Mr. Wentworth Lascelle-Scott, F.S.Sc. (Lond.), the well-known analyst, has just analysed and tested Bile Beans and the following is his report:—

Chemical and Physical Laboratories,
Little Ilford, Essex.
11 March, 1905.

I have chemically and microscopically analysed and have otherwise tested the Bile Beans introduced and prepared by the Bile Bean Manufacturing Company, of London, Leeds, and elsewhere.

Samples for examination were obtained not only from the proprietors direct, but also (without their knowledge) by retail purchases made for me in several London districts, as well as in Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, and Brighton. The results have proved uniformly satisfactory in all instances.

Bile Beans are small (each weighing barely two-and-a-half-grains), cylindro-ovoidal in shape, and are preserved within an impervious, tasteless envelope, which, however, is readily soluble. They are easily swallowed even by children.

Bile Beans contain neither mercury in any form, nor other drastic purgative, but are, I find, of entirely vegetable composition, devoid of those irritant and lowering properties which render many of the ordinary aperients in use unsuitable for—and sometimes even dangerous todelicate persons.

Their distinct, and slightly cumulative laxative action appears to be rather skilfully controlled by the extracts of certain Australian plants, which, possessing very valuable tonic and cholagogue qualities, render this medicament particularly effective in all ailments traceable to liver affections.

Bile Beans thus act directly upon the liver and lymphatic system, while, as a mild emmenagogue, they are well adapted to feminine requirements.

From the foregoing facts, amongst others, I certify that Bile Beans are compounded of pure vegetable ingredients, and that, in my opinion, this preparation is likely to prove an efficient agent for the class of disorders referred to above.

Lecturer on Chemistry and Hygiene to the London Conservatoire; Consulting Analyst to the Royal Commissions for Victoria, Fiji, and the Mauritius; late Public Analyst for the Counties of Derby, Glamorgan, North Staffordshire, etc.

The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, 27 February 1906

In 1910 the journal of the Melbourne Medical Students’ Society Speculum  issue 77, May 1910 p13-19 described the various modern patent medicines available at the time and provided the following assessment of Bile Beans:

How often as we have gazed at the lilting allurements of Bile Beans for Biliousness have we wondered what was in them. The ad says that the Bean is a kind of back-to-nature treatment, claiming as it does that Charles Forde, a distinguished scientist, had while in Australia noted that the aborigines were markedly free from bodily ailments, and had, by much patient research, ascertained that this immunity from the ills that beset the civilised man was obtained by the use of a vegetable substance which was now presented to the world dirt cheap in convenient form. When we read that the Bean for Biliousness contains Cascara, Rhubarb, Liquorice, Oil of Peppermint, and a gelatine coating, can we wonder that four judges in London should call the ad “a deliberate fraud.”

The University of Melbourne Archives featured an article on Bile Beans in their January 2010 newsletter. The following extract comes from ‘Bile Beans for Better Health!’ page 7:

Bile Beans were first manufactured and sold in Australia in the 1890s, early advertisements had it that they were an ‘Ancient Australian medicine’ invented by an Australian scientist, Charles Forde, who had allegedly researched the therapeutic attributes of native roots and herbs and had discovered ‘the finest remedy yet discovered for all liver and digestive disorders.’ This was all hokum of course, Charles Forde didn’t exist and the real ‘inventor’ was a Canadian living in Sydney named Charles E. Fulford, who had once worked as a shop assistant in a Canadian pharmacy. Fulford had appropriated the idea from a remedy already on the American market named Smith’s Bile Beans, while his marketing ploy was borrowed from the popular Dr. Morse’s Indian Root Pills, whose manufacturers claimed their source as native herbs and roots used by American Indians.

Bile Beans Tin - Powerhouse Museum Sydney.png

Tin, Bile Beans for Biliousness. Object 89/75
On display in Recollect: Health & Medicine at the Powerhouse Museum

A great source of information and background to the history of Bile Beans is available at Atlas ObscuraBile Beans, The Incognito Laxative That Claimed to Be A Cure-All by Cara Giaimo. Additional background to the story of Bile Beans and some good examples of later advertising imagery is available at the Quack Doctor (with a follow-up here) including that a leaflet enclosed with the Bile Beans stated the Beans did not include mercury, bismuth, or aloes, however they did contain aloin – an aloe extract with laxative properties that is no longer considered safe because of its potential side effects.

The World's Remedy For All Liver Ailments

Bile Beans for Biliousness - Natures Remedy - Purely Vegetable

This entry was posted in 1900-1909, Bray Street, Good for what ails you and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Debility Cured by Bile Beans After Hospital Treatment Failed to Relieve – Mrs. Ellen Moore – 12 Bray Street Erskineville

  1. Cass says:

    I’m a tired, jaded woman – maybe these will work for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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