From London's Ghost Acres

Honey is used to sweeten and act as a binding agent for different medications in the Pharmacopeia and Compendium. While it does have a laxative effect, its side effects of griping and flatulence discourage its regular usage. Instead, it is more commonly used to form oxymel (honey and vinegar) and used treat asthmatics suffering from gravel.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Honey Mel

“a saccharine sectretion deposited in the honeycomb, by Apis mellifica… the hive bee.” [1]


“When recently separated from the honeycomb, it is a viscid translucent liquid, of a brownish-yellow colour, which gradually becomes partially crystalline and opaque. It has a peculiar heavy odour, and a very sweet taste.” Used in the preparation of:[2]

  • Mel depuatum

Preparations of Honey

Confection of Pepper / Confectio Piperis [3]

  • black pepper, in fine powder (2 oz), caraway fruit in fine powder (3 oz), clarified honey (15 oz)
  • dose: 60-120 grains

Confection of Scammony / Confectio Scammonii [4]

  • Scammony in fine powder (3 oz), ginger, in fine powder (1 ½ oz), oil of caraway (1 fl drachm), oil of cloves (1/2 fl drachm), syrup (3 fl oz), clarified honey (1 ½ oz)
  • 10-30 grains

Confection of Turpentine / Confection Terebinthinae[5]

  • oil of turpentine (1 fl oz), liquorice root, in power (1 oz), clarified honey (2 oz)
  • dose: 60-120 grains

Borax Honey / Mel Boracis[6]

  • borax, in fine powder (64 grains), clarified honey (1 oz)

Clarified Honey / Mel Depuratum [7]

  • honey (5 lb), melted and strained
  • used in the preparations of: Confectio Piperis, Confectio Scammonii, Confection Terebinthinae, Mel Boracis, Oxymel, Oxymel Scillae

Oxymel / Oxymel [8]

  • clarified honey (40 oz), acetic acid (5 fl oz), distilled water (5 fl oz)
  • dose 1-2 fl drachms

Oxymel of Squill / Oxymel Scillae[9]

  • vinegar of squill (1 pint), clarified honey (2 pounds)
  • dose: ½ -1 fl drachm

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified as a Demulcent (Simple Remedies Which Allay Irritation by their Soothing Properties) [10]

Honey has laxative properties, but because gripe and flatulence are common side-effects, honey is not commonly used in England as a purgative. It is more common in the form of oxymel (honey mixed with vinegar), which is used for asthmatics and those who suffer gravel.[11]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Honey

  • Acid, Muriatic: Honey of roses used in “Muriatic Acid Gargle,” used to treat “ulcerated sore throats in scarlet fever.” Honey of roses also used in “Muriatic Acid Linctus” which is to be applied to the mouth and throat for relief of pain caused by scarlet fever.[12]
  • Antimonial Powder: antimonial powder can be mixed with honey and administered [13]
  • Asses’ Milk: honey is used to sweeten the mixture[14]
  • Bark, Peruvian: honey used in “Bark Gargle”[15]
  • Borax: honey of borax used in linctus to treat “acidity of the primae viae and aphthous excoriations of the mouth and fauces of children.” Purified honey is included in a gargle to treat the same ailment.[16]
  • Carrageen, or Irish Moss: honey is used to sweeten mixtures/decoctions[17]
  • Gum Guaiacum: mixed with fine honey to form an electuary[18]
  • Hiera Picra: combined with honey to make cathartic pills or bolus[19]
  • Honey: see def[20]
  • Icelandic Moss: honey used to sweeten preparations of the moss, which can be used to treat consumption, coughs, dysenteries, and diarrhoea.[21]
  • Iron, Saccharine, Carbonate of: combined with honey to form an electuary [22]
  • Nitre: combined with honey to form a gargle to treat inflammatory sore throats[23]
  • Tincture of Balsam of Tolu: mixed with honey to treat coughs that are accompanied with no inflammation[24]
  • Tincture of Buch Leaves: honey included in “Buchu Mixture” which can be useful in treating gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, and gleet.[25]
  • Tincture of Guaiacum, Volatile: can be triturated with honey, in treatment for chronic rheumatism.[26]

Diseases Treated with Honey

General Diseases

  • Cramps, or Spasms: honey is one of the food laxatives recommended by Savory[27]
  • Putrid Sore Throat: honey of roses included in a gargle that has treated sore throats, as is clarified honey.[28]

Infantile Diseases

  • Aphthous Ulceration, or Thrush: honey of roses is part of a liniment [29]
  • Scarlet Fever: fine Narbonne honey included in a gargle or lotion that is used to treat the throat[30]

Medical Articles Containing Honey

  • For Inflammatory Sore Throat: honey of roses[31]
  • For Scorbutic Affection of the Gums: honey of roses[32]

Prescriptions Containing Honey

Aperients and Cathartics

  • A Mild Laxative for Children: honey, narbonne[33]


  • Astringent Gargle: honey of roses[34]
  • Cayenne Gargle: honey of roses [35]


  • Antiseptic Gargle: honey[36]
  • Gargle for Scorbutic Affections of the Gums: honey of roses[37]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 207
  2. GMCGB, 207
  3. GMCGB, 87
  4. GMCGB, 88-89
  5. GMCGB, 90
  6. GMCGB, 207
  7. GMCGB, 207
  8. GMCGB, 231-32
  9. GMCGB, 232
  10. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 392.
  11. Savory, 80
  12. Savory, 3
  13. Savory, 20
  14. Savory, 23
  15. Savory, 28
  16. Savory, 33
  17. Savory, 40-41
  18. Savory, 75
  19. Savory, 79
  20. Savory, 80
  21. Savory, 83
  22. Savory, 88
  23. Savory, 104
  24. Savory, 154
  25. Savory, 155
  26. Savory, 159
  27. Savory, 225
  28. Savory, 249
  29. Savory, 266
  30. Savory, 280
  31. Savory, 294
  32. Savory, 294
  33. Savory, 315
  34. Savory, 318
  35. Savory, 318
  36. Savory, 320
  37. Savory, 320

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