From London's Ghost Acres

Opium is the dried latex from the opium poppy, and contains approximately 12% alkaloid morphine. It is used to produce heroin and other opiates.

Opium was used in many remedies listed in the Pharmacopeia, and is the main component of laudanum. It was a major narcotic given to treat pain, but also had the ability to successfully treat diarrhoea. The Compendium does caution against using opium too freely, and even criticised nurses who freely gave it to children in their care.

Opium is used in the treatment of fever, burns, colds, cholera, diarrhoea, toothaches, typhus, and other diseases that cause irritation or uncomfortableness.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Opium Opium

“The juice, inpissated by spontaneous evaporation, obtained by incision from the unripe capsules of the poppy, Papaver somniferum… grown in Asia Minor.”[1]


“Irregular lumps, weighing from four ounces to two pounds; enveloped in the remains of poppy leaves, and generally covered with the chaffy fruits of a species of rumex; when fresh, plastic, tearing with an irregular slightly moist chestnut-brown surface, shining when rubbed smooth with the finger, having a peculiar odour and bitter taste.” Dose: ½-2 Grains. Used to make preparations of:[2]

  • Confectio Opii
  • Emplastrum Opii
  • Enema Opii
  • Extractum Opii
  • Extractum Opii Liquidum
  • Linimentum Opii
  • Morphiae Aectas
  • Morphiae Acetas Liquor
  • Morphiae Hydrochloras
  • Morphiae Hydrochloras Liquor
  • Pilula Ipecacuanhae cum Scilla
  • Pilula Plumbi cum Opio
  • Pilula Saponis composita
  • Pulvis Cretea aromaticus cum Opio
  • Pulvis Ipecacuanhae compositus
  • Pulvis Kino compositus
  • Pulvis Opii compositus
  • Suppositoria Plumbi composita
  • Tintura Camphorae composita
  • Tinctura Opii
  • Tinctura Opii ammoniata
  • Trochisci Opii
  • Unguentum Gallae cum Opio
  • Vinum Opii

Preparations of Opium

Confection of Opium / Confectio Opii [3]

  • compound powder of opium (192 grains), syrup (1 fl oz)
  • dose: 5-20 grains

Opium Plaster / Emplastrum Opii[4]

  • opium, in fine powder (1 oz), resin plaster (9 oz)

Enema of Opium / Enema Opii [5]

  • tincture of opium (1/2 fl drachm), mucilage of startch (2 sl oz)

Extract of Opium / Extractum Opii[6]

  • Opium in thin slices (I lb), distilled water (6 pints)
  • dose: ½-2 grains
  • used in the preparations of: extractum Opii liquidum, Trochisci Opii, Vinum Opii

Liquid Extract of Opium / Extractum Opii Liquidum [7]

  • extract of opium (1 oz), distilled water (16 fl oz), rectified spirit (4 fl oz)
  • dose: 10-40 minims

Liniment of Opium / Linimentum Opii [8]

  • tincture of opium (2 fl oz), liniment of soap (2 fl oz)

Hydrochlorate of Morphia / Morphiae Hydrochloras [9]

  • syn: morphiae murias
  • opium, sliced (1 lb), chloride of calcium (3/4 oz), purified animal charcoal (1/4 oz), diluted hydrochloric acid (2 fl oz, or as needed), solution of ammonia (as needed), distilled water (as needed)
  • “In white flexible acicular prisms of a silky lustre, not changed by exposure to the air, and soluble in water and spirit.”
  • dose: 1/3-1/2 grain
  • used in the preparations of: Liquor Morphiae Hydrochloratis, Suppositoria Morphiae, Trochisci Morphiae, Torchisci Morphiae et Ipecacuanhae

Acetate of Morphia / Morphiae Aectas [10]

  • hydrochlorate of morphia (2 oz), solution of ammonia (as needed), acetic acid (as needed), distilled water (as needed)
  • dose: 1/8-1/2 grains
  • used in preparations of: Liquor Morphiae Acetatis

Solution of Acetate of Morphia / Liquor Morphiae Acetas [11]192

  • acetate of morphia (4 grains), diluted acetic acid (8 minims), rectified spirit (2 fl drachm), distilled water (6 fl drachm)
  • dose: 10-60 minims

Pill of Powder of Ipecacuanha with Squill / Pilula Ipecacuanhae cum Scilla [12]

  • compound powder of ipecacuanha (3 oz), squill, in powder (1 oz), ammoniacum, in powder (1 oz), treacle (as needed)
  • dose: 5-10 grains

Pill of Lead and Opium / Pilula Plumbi cum Opio [13]

  • acetate of lead, in fine powder (36 grains), opium, in powder (6 grains), confection of roses (6 grains)
  • dose: 3-5 grains

Compound Pill of Soap / Pilula Saponis composita [14]

  • syn: pilula opii, 1864
  • opium, in powder (1/2 oz), hard soap, in powder (2 oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • dose: 3-5 grains

Aromatic Powder of Chalk and Opium / Pulvis Cretea aromaticus cum Opio[15]

  • aromatic powder of chalk (9 ¾ oz), opium, in powder (1/4 oz)
  • dose: 10-40 grains

Compound Powder of Ipecacuanha / Pulvis Ipecacuanhae compositus [16]

  • syn: pulvis ipecacuanhae cum opio
  • ipecacuanha, in powder (1/2 oz), opium, in powder (1/2 oz), sulphate of potash, in powder (4 oz)
  • dose: 5-15 grains
  • used in preparations of: Pilula Ipecacuanhae cum Scilla

Compound Powder of Kino / Pulvis Kino compositus [17]

  • syn: pulvis kino cum opio, 1864
  • Kino, in powder (3 ¾ oz), opium, in powder (1/4 oz), cinnamon bark, in powder (1 oz)
  • dose: 5-20 grains

Compound Powder of Opium / Pulvis Opii compositus [18]

  • opium, in powder (1 ½ oz), black pepper, in powder (2 oz), ginger, in powder (5 oz), caraway fruit, in powder (6 oz), tragacanth, in powder (1/2 oz)
  • dose: 2-5 grains
  • used in preparations of: Confectio Opii

Compound Lead Suppositories / Suppositoria Plumbi composita [19]

  • acetate of lead (36 grains), opium in powder (12 grains), benzoated lard (42 grains), white wax (10 grains), oil of theobroma (80 grains)

Compound Tincture of Camphor / Tintura Camphorae composita[20]

  • syn: tinctura camphorae cum opio, tinctura opii camphorate
  • opium in coarse powder (40 grains), benzoic acid (40 grains), camphor (30 grains), oil of anise (1/2 fl drachm), proof spirit (1 pint)
  • dose: 15 minims to 1 fl oz

Tincture of Opium / Tinctura Opii [21]

  • opium, in powder (1 ½ oz), proof spirit (1 pint)
  • dose: 5-40 minims
  • preparations: enema opii, linimentum opii

Ammoniated Tincture of opium / Tinctura Opii ammoniate[22]

  • opium, in coarse powder (100 grains), saffron, cut small (180 grains), benzoic acid (180 grains), oil of anise (1 fl drachm), strong solution of ammonia (4 fl oz), rectified spirit (16 fl oz)
  • dose: /12-1 fl drachm

Opium Lozenges / Trochisci Opii[23]

  • Extract of opium (72 grains), tincture of tolu (1/2 fl oz), refined sugar, in powder (16 oz), gum acacia, in powder (2 oz), extract of liquorice (6 oz), distilled water (as needed)
  • dose: 1-6 lozenges

Ointment of Galls and Opium / Unguentum Gallae cum Opio [24]

  • ointment of galls (1 oz), opium, in powder (32 grains).

Wine of Opium / Vinum Opii [25]

  • Extract of opium (1 oz), cinnamon bark, bruised (75 grains), cloves, bruised (75 grains), sherry (1 pint)
  • dose: 10-40 minims

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

"It is the chief narcotic now employed; it acts directly upon the nervous power, diminishing the sensibility, irritability, and mobility of the system; thereby inducing sleep, one of its principal effects. From this sedative power of opium, by which it allays pains, inordinate action, and restlessness, it naturally follows that it may be employed with great advantage in a variety of diseases."

Treats: fevers, acute and chronic rheumatism, obstinate and irritation coughs, eruptive diseases (rashes)

"The younger the individual, the more energetic is its action on the system; hence the great caution requisite in its administration to infants; in fact, it should never be resorted to in any form except upon emergencies; and all opiates, especially syrup of poppies and some nostrums containing opium, which are but too frequently used by lazy nurses to quiet children, should be most imperiously excluded from the list of nursery medicines."

-dosage: will change person to person, depending on age, sex, surrounding climate, and previous opium usage. The lowest fatal dosage has been noted at around 4 grains for a person who is unaccustomed to opium use.[26]

Opium is listed as a Vegetable Poison by Savory. In case of overdose: stomach contents must be emptied. Savory recommends either by stomach pump, or by the use of emetics (sulphate of zinc or sulphate of copper), with sulphate of copper being the preferred, at a dose of ten grains dissolved in two ounces water. Cold water is to be pooured over individuals who experience "great drowsiness," or in the instance of coma, fainting, or stupor.

"Children are frequently very much injured, and sometimes destroyed, by the too free use of syrup of poppies and other narcotics."[27]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Opium Listed in CDM1865

Contains Opium

  • Angustura or Cusparia Bark: part of a mixture (in the form of Jeremie's solution) used to treat diarrhoea, "with irritability and exhaustion."[28]
  • Compound Chalk Powder, with Opium: relief of diarrhoea that is caused by acidity[29]
  • Confection of Opium: "is a useful remedy in checking common diarrhoea, and some forms of chronic rheumatism."[30]
  • Dover's Power: can treat rheumatism, gout, diabetes, dropsy, diarrhoea, dysentery, fevers. "Dover's powder is a mild a safe opiate for children, and less liable to disagree than perhaps others." Ten grains contain one grain of opium. Liquid version of Dover's Powder provided by Savory contains laudanum.[31]
  • Laudanum: "When judiciously administered, it is one of the most valuable medicines we possess." Can treat pain and spasm (as a liniment), when ingested can stop violent vomiting, provide relief from decaying teeth.[32]
  • Morphine, or Morphia: alkaloid of opium, often used in the form of the acetate, the hydochlorate/muriate, or sulphate of morphia. Provides similar relief as opium, with less stimulation to the patient. "like opium they reduce their effect by repetition, and, consequently, the dose requires to be gradually increased."[33]
  • Opium: see description in CDM1865[34]
  • Jeremie's Solution of Opium: does not have side effects of opium ("disturbing the nervous system, or diminishing the secretions"). Used to treat: gout, rheumatism, diarrhoea, cholera, influenza, common catarrh (cold), those who suffer from tic, nervous and spasmodic pains.[35]
  • Paregoric Elixir: contains opium. Used to treat: the tickling sensation that accompanies a recent cough, hooping-cough.[36]
  • Pellitory of Spain: Used as a gargle or can be chewed. Encourages the flow of saliva, relief from toothache.[37]
  • Carminative Mixture for Infants: contains laudanum [38]
  • Sedative Liquor or Opium: Does not contain narcotine (stimulant). Used as a sedative.[39]
  • Wine of Opium: Used in similar cases as Laudanum. "Mr. Ware has applied the wine of opium to the eye in cases where, after active inflammation has been subdued, the vessels remain turgid; two oe three drops of it being introduced under the eyelids."[40]

Combined with Opium

  • Ammonia, Sesquicarbonate of: "combined with opium, it affords a powerful resource in protracted diarrhoea, attended with debility of the alimentary canal."[41]
  • Amtimonial powder: combined with opium or camphor to treat fever or other inflammatory diseases. Can also be used with laudanum.[42]
  • Astringent Powder: opium (Jeremie's solution) can be used to alleviate pain during the evacuations of the intestines and bowels.[43]
  • Black Drop: aka Quaker's Black Drop, used instead of opium and laudanum so as to avoid the side-effects of each drug (including delirium, restlessness, headache, sickness, and debility). It might be produced from opium; Savory does not mention. More research needed.[44]
  • Calomel: when combined with opium (or other substances) increased the "sudorific powers of these substances" (induces sweating)[45]
  • Camphor Liniment, Compound: used to topically apply opium[46]
  • Castor Oil: laudanum used to correct "griping or excessive purging"[47]
  • Galls: combined with opium in treating piles, especially blind piles.[48]
  • Goulard's Extract: combined with 20 drops of laudanum "found serviceable as an eye-water in purulent ophthalmia"[49]
  • Magnesia, Calcined: laudanum part of carminative mixture for infants [50]
  • Mercurial Pill (Blue Pill): can be combined with opium "if it occassion any action on the bowels." Otherwise used to treat "diminished secretion of bile, in dyspepsia, scrofula, jaundice, syphilis, and cutaneous eruptions."[51]
  • Oil of Almonds: combined with laudanum for Anodyne Liniment[52]
  • Oil of Amber: combined with laudanum[53]
  • Opodeldoc Liquid: combined with laudanum "it forms one of the best sedative liniments"[54]
  • Pill, Plummers: used to treat cutaneous eruptions and secondary symptoms of syphillus. Can be combined with opium if there is any affect on the bowels.[55]
  • Simaruba Bark: combined with laudanum, mostly for diarrhoea, dystentery, and dyspeptic affections[56]
  • Spirit of Mindererus, Collyrium: combined with laudanum[57]
  • Sugar of Lead: Given with opium to stop pulmonary and uterine haemorrhages.[58]
  • Tincture of Buchu Leaves: combined with laudanum, for urinary irritation, gravel, spasmodic stricture, gleet, fluor albus, &tc.[59]
  • Warner's Gout Cordial: combined with laudanum should sickness from original dosage occur[60]

Diseases Treated with Opium as listed in CDM1865

  • Ague, or Intermittent Fever: Laudanum can be administered should the first stage (cold stage) be deemed e"extremely severe." Jeremie's Solution of Opium can be administered along with Flower's Solution of Arsenic during the intermission stages of fever.[61]
  • Burns or Scalds: Opium is to be given to reduce pain, allow sleep, and also lessen "the disposition to various other dangerous symptoms."[62]
  • Catarrh, or a Cold: Jeremie's Solution of Opium included in a "stimulating draught."[63]
  • Cholera Morbus: Jeremie's Solution of Opium is included in a draught that is to be taken with pills, should vomiting and/or pain continue past the first stage of treatment. (224) A tincture of opium is include in a mixture that was proposed by the Board of Health during a cholera outbreak.[64]
  • Diarrhoea, or Looseness: opium is to be taken if diarrhoea "exists to a great extent" and is not cured by the measures suggested by Savory.[65]
  • Ear, Disease of: laudanum dropped into the ear along with other oils if pain is not relived by other measures.[66]
  • Menstruation: can be used along with other remedies to reduce pain, resulting from Dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation).[67]
  • Piles, or Haemorrhoids: Used in combination of an ointment of galls, to relieve pain.[68]
  • Rheumatism: Opium can be used during diaphoresis, although it can be replaced by other narcotics that help relieve pain.[69]
  • Sickness: "The best palliatives against nausea and vomiting are effervescing saline draughts and small doses of opium."[70]
  • Toothache: Opium is one of the narcotics listed, as is laudanum. A pill of opium and camphor can be taken if the tooth is hollow or decayed[71]
  • Typhus Fever: Opium is to be used as a stimulant "necessary to sustain the powers of life," should the patient be severely weakened by the disease.[72]
  • Water-Brash: "The use of opium has succeeded in some cases where all other means had proved useless."[73]
  • Whitlow: opium should be administered in severe cases, "where the swelling reaches up to the arm, and fever is considerable"[74]
  • Aphthous Ulceration, or Thrush: Jeremie's Solution of Opium is part of a liniment that is applied during early stages of the infection, before the bowels have been affected.[75]
  • Cow Pox (Infantile Disease): laudanum included in lotion to be applied on infected area[76]
  • Hooping or Chin cough (Infantile Disease): laudanum included in treatment[77]

Medical Articles Containing Opium as listed in CDM1865

  • Anodyne Injection: for irritation [78]
  • Dr. Bow's Opiate Liniment: powdered opium "Dr. Bow recommends the use of opiate frictions int he inflammatory affection of children, and he relates many cures in this way."[79]
  • Dr. Beatty's Remedy for Hooping-Cough: camphorated tincture of opium[80]
  • Liniment used in chaps of the nipples: purified opium[81]

Prescriptions Containing Opium as listed in CDM1865


  • Diarrhoea from Acidity: compound chalk powder with opium[82]
  • Chalk Mixture: Jeremie's Solution of Opium[83]
  • Antacid Misture: Jeremie's Solution of opium[84]
  • Aromatic Chalk Draught: confection of opium[85]


  • Alternatives in the forms of Pill, Powder, &c.: powdered opium. Pill made for dropsical affections[86]


  • Anti-Asthmatic Draught: laudanum[87]
  • Anti-Hysteric Embrocation: laudanum[88]


  • Astringent Mixture: laudanum[89]
  • Asiatic Tincture for Cholera: powdered opium. "This medicine has attained great celebrity in the East Indies and in America"[90]
  • Stimulating Astringent Mixture: laudanum[91]
  • Dr. Baillie's Mixture for Children: laudanum[92]


  • Antoher: laudanum[93]


  • Cough Pills: opium in powder[94]
  • Another: laudanum[95]


  • Diuretic Draught: laudanum[96]
  • Diuretic Pill (Another): powdered opium[97]


  • Sedative Draught: Jeremie's opium[98]


  • Expectorant Pills: powdered opium[99]

Narcotics and Anodynes

  • Narcotic Draught: contained Jeremie's solution of opium[100]
  • Another: laudanum[101]
  • Compound Sedative Syrup: laudanum[102]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 229
  2. GMCGB, 229
  3. GMCGB, 87
  4. GMCGB, 107
  5. GMCGB, 110
  6. GMCGB, 123-34
  7. GMCGB, 124
  8. GMCGB, 174
  9. GMCGB, 213-15
  10. GMCGB, 213
  11. GMCGB, 192
  12. GMCGB, 239
  13. GMCGB, 239
  14. GMCGB, 240
  15. GMCGB, 263
  16. GMCGB, 263-64
  17. GMCGB, 264
  18. GMCGB, 265
  19. GMCGB, 308
  20. GMCGB, 322
  21. GMCGB, 338
  22. GMCGB, 338
  23. GMCGB, 350
  24. GMCGB, 354
  25. GMCGB, 368/
  26. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 111-13.
  27. Savory, 176
  28. Savory, 19
  29. Savory, 45
  30. Savory, 50
  31. Savory, 53-54
  32. Savory, 92
  33. Savory, 102
  34. Savory, 111
  35. Savory, 113
  36. Savory, 114
  37. Savory, 115-16
  38. Savory, 120
  39. Savory, 132
  40. Savory, 171
  41. Savory, 16
  42. Savory, 20
  43. Savory, 24
  44. Savory, 32
  45. Savory, 36
  46. Savory, 38
  47. Savory, 43
  48. Savory, 68
  49. Savory, 71
  50. Savory, 99
  51. Savory, 101
  52. Savory, 105
  53. Savory, 106
  54. Savory, 113
  55. Savory, 116
  56. Savory, 134
  57. Savory, 141
  58. Savory, 147
  59. Savory, 155
  60. Savory, 168
  61. Savory, 205
  62. Savory, 210
  63. Savory, 218
  64. Savory, 222
  65. Savory, 227
  66. Savory, 229
  67. Savory, 247
  68. Savory, 248
  69. Savory, 251
  70. Savory, 255
  71. Savory, 257
  72. Savory, 259
  73. Savory, 261
  74. Savory, 263
  75. Savory, 266
  76. Savory, 270
  77. Savory, 274
  78. Savory, 297
  79. Savory, 298
  80. Savory, 299
  81. Savory, 302
  82. Savory, 306
  83. Savory, 306
  84. Savory, 307
  85. Savory, 309
  86. Savory, 310
  87. Savory, 316
  88. Savory, 317
  89. Savory, 318-19
  90. Savory, 319
  91. Savory, 319
  92. Savory, 320
  93. Savory, 321
  94. Savory, 324
  95. Savory, 323
  96. Savory, 324
  97. Savory, 326
  98. Savory, 329
  99. Savory, 328
  100. Savory, 331
  101. Savory, 331
  102. Savory, 332

Imported from