From London's Ghost Acres

Manna is the sugary extract taken from the sap of Fraxinus ornus, and during medieval times this extract was compared to the biblical manna, resulting in the English name of the plant: manna ash. (

Manna was listed in the Compendium as an aperient and a purgative, and was often prescribed as a safe and effective purgative to infants, children, and “delicate females.” It was also combined with other purgatives to help mask their taste.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Manna Manna

“A concrete saccharine exudation form the stem of Fraxinus Ornus… and F. rotundifolia… Obtained by making incisions in the stems of the trees, which are cultivated foe the purpose, chiefly in Calabria and Sicily.” [1]


“In stalactiform pieces from one to six inches in length, and one or two inches in width, uneven, porous, and friable, curved on one side, pf a yellowish-white colour, with a faitly nauseous odour, and a sweetish taste.” Given in a dose of: 60 grains, to 1 oz. [2]

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified as a Aperient and Purgative [3]

“Is one of the mildest and safest purgatives known, and is adapted chiefly for children and very delicate females.” It is often combined with senna, castor oil, or other purgatives, primarily to mask their taste rather than further improving their cathartic properties. “Mothers frequently give it to their children as an innocent purgative; but, though mild in its operation, if given alone it is apt to produce flatulence and griping.” [4]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Manna

  • Cream of Tartar: combined with manna to form laxative lozenges (does not include senna, castor oil, or other purgatives)[5]
  • Epsom Salts: combined with manna for a mixture given to infants between 1-2 years old. [6]
  • Magnesia, Calcined: often combined with manna to form “an efficient purgative for general use”[7]
  • Manna: included in a mixture given to infants during a cold/catarrh, and also as a mild purgative (it is combined with senna, calcined magnesia, and a tincture of rhubarb).[8]
  • Soluble Tartar: manna included in a mixture given to children. Either an aperient or purgative (both?)[9]

Diseases Treated with Manna

General Diseases

  • Costiveness, or Constipation: “the best medicines are the mild purgatives as castor oil, manna, &c.”[10]

Infantile Diseases

  • Infantile Costiveness: manna can be combined with a child’s food, but it is not the main medication prescribed by Savory.[11]

Medical Articles Containing Manna

  • Abernethy’s Aperient Mixture: manna[12]

Prescriptions Containing Manna

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Aperient Mixture (Another): manna[13]
  • Aperient Mixture (Another): manna[14]
  • Aperient Mixture (Another): manna[15]
  • Manna Draught: manna[16]
  • Mild Laxative for Children: fine manna[17]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 205
  2. GMCGB, 205
  3. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 390.
  4. Savory, 101
  5. Savory, 50
  6. Savory, 56
  7. Savory, 100
  8. Savory, 101
  9. Savory, 137
  10. Savory, 225
  11. Savory, 269
  12. Savory, 301
  13. Savory, 311
  14. Savory, 311
  15. Savory, 311
  16. Savory, 315
  17. Savory, 315

Imported from