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Jalap is the dried root of Exogonium Purga, which was imported from Mexico. Jalap was employed as an Anthelmintic (expelled intestinal worms), and also as an aperient and purgative.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Jalap Jalap

"The dried tubercules of Exogonium Purga… Imported from Mexico.”


“Varying from the size of a nut to that of an orange, ovid, the larger tubercules frequently incised, covered with a thin brown wrinkltd cuticle; presenting, when cut, a yellowish-grey colour, with dark brown concentric circles.”[1] Given in dose of 10-30 grains. Used in the preparations of[2]:

  • Extractum Jalapae
  • Pulvis Jalapae compositus
  • Pulvis Scammonii compositus
  • Resina Jalapae
  • Tinctura Jalapae

Preparations of Jalap

Extract of Jalap / Extractum Jalapae [3]

  • Jalap, in coarse powder (1 lb), rectified spirit (4 pints), distilled water (1 gallon)
  • dose: 5-15 grains

Resin of Jalap / Jalapae Resina [4]

  • Jalap, in coarse powder (8 oz), rectified spirit (as needed), distilled water (as needed)

Compound Powder of Jalap / Pulvis Jalapae compositus 264

  • Jalap, in powder (5 oz), acid tartarate of potash (9 oz), ginger in powder (1 oz)
  • dose: 20-60 grains

Compound Powder of Scammony / Pulvis Scammonii compositus [5]

  • scammony, in powder (4 oz), jalap, in powder (3 oz), ginger in powder (1 oz)
  • dose 10-20 grains

Tincture of Jalap / Tinctura Jalapae[6]

  • Jalap, in coarse powder (2 ½ oz), proof spirit (1 pint)
  • doseL ½-2 fl drachms

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified by Savory as an Anthelmintic (Remedies Which Expel Intestinal Worms) and as an Aperient and Purgative.[7]

On its own and in smaller doses it form an effective purgative without the risk of gripe, but in larger doses it can cause griping.

Remedies Containing or to be used with Jalap

  • Calomel: Jalap is part of a “Strong Purgative Powder for Children”[8]
  • Cloves: combined with jalap in a pill to form a laxative[9]
  • Extract of Colocynth, Compound: jalap included in mixture used as a nightly cathartic.[10]
  • Extract of Jalap: Has similar properties as powdered jalap, but often causes gripe. Savory recommends trituration with soap, or for an emulsion made from almonds, sugar, and gum Arabic to be made to reduce risks of gripe.[11]
  • Jalap: effective purgative, being included in a rememdy to be given to school-boys who over-indulge. It can also be used in a diuretic when combined with cream of tartar, or as an electuary used in the treatment of dropsy.[12]
  • Jalap, Compound Powder of: purgative used with recurring costiveness, or also to treat children with “tumid bellies,” worms, or dropsy.[13]
  • Rhubarb, Turkey: can be combined with jalap to increase effects[14]
  • Sulphur, Sublimed: powdered jalap used in a cooling electuary to treat piles.[15]
  • Tincture of Jalap: cathartic[16]

Diseases Treated with Jalap

Infantile Diseases

  • Infantile Costiveness: “But should costiveness appear to have provoked fever, excited convulsions, or induced much pain, more active medicines, such as jalap, or calomel and jalap, should be administered”[17]
  • Hooping or Chincough: Jalap used during the early stages of the disease to keep the bowels open while other treatments are being administered[18]
  • Water in the Head: jalap included as part of the laxative administered during early stages of treatment[19]
  • Worms: jalap is one of the purgatives used to expel worms from the bowels after they have been dislodged by other medications. Ching’s lozenges (Savory believes they contain calomel and jalap) are recommended. Powdered jalap included in “Anthelmintic Electuary”[20]

Medical Articles Containing Jalap

  • Purgative Biscuits: powdered jalap[21]

Prescriptions Containing Jalap

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Aperient Draught: tincture of jalap[22]
  • Cathartic Draught: tincture of jalap[23]


  • Anthelmintic Powder: powdered jalap[24]
  • Anthelmintic Electuary: powdered jalap[25]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 166
  2. GMCGB, 167
  3. GMCGB, 120-21
  4. GMCGB, 167
  5. GMCGB, 265-66
  6. GMCGB, 334
  7. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 390.
  8. Savory, 36
  9. Savory, 47
  10. Savory, 61
  11. Savory, 65
  12. Savory, 88
  13. Savory, 89
  14. Savory, 123
  15. Savory, 147
  16. Savory, 160
  17. Savory, 269
  18. Savory, 274
  19. Savory, 283
  20. Savory, 286
  21. Savory, 300
  22. Savory, 312
  23. Savory, 314
  24. Savory, 315
  25. Savory, 315

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