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Turpentine is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin obtained from live trees, mainly pines. It is mainly used as a solvent and as a source of materials for organic synthesis.

Turpentine is the distilled form of resin, often taken from pine trees. It is primarily used as a solvent, and has other uses, although they are primarily industrial uses.

It is used in the Pharmacopeia to form liniments, ointments, and enemas. In the Compendium, it is also used in liniments and plasters. It is also used in the treatment of fevers, bruises and sprains, epilepsy, rheumatism, croup, and infantile worms.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Oil of Turpentine Oleum Turbinthinae

“The oil distilled from the oleo-resin (turpentine) obtained from Pinus palustris… and sometimes Pinus Pinaster.”[1]


“Limpid, colourless, with a strong peculiar odour, and pungent and bitter taste.” Dose: 10 minims to 4 fl drachm[2]

Preparations of Turpentine

Confection of Turpentine / Confectio Terebinthinae[3]

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

Enema of Turpentine / Enema Terebintinae[4]

  • oil of turpentine (1 fl oz), mucilage of startch (15 fl oz)

Liniment of Turpentine / Linimentum Terebinthinae[5]

  • soft soap (2 oz), camphor (1 oz), oil of turpentine (16 fl oz)

Liniment of Turpentine and Acetic Acid / Linimentum Terebinthinae Acetum[6]

  • oil of turpentine (1 fl oz), acetic acid (1 fl oz), liniment of camphor (1 fl oz)

Ointment of Turpentine / Unguentum Terebinthinae [7]361

  • oil of turpentine (1 fl oz), resin, in coarse powder (60 grains), yellow wax (1/2 oz), prepared lard (1/2 oz)

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified as an Anthelmintic (remedies which expel intestinal worms)(411/390), and as a Diuretic (remedies which cause an increased secretion of urine)[8]

Gin is made be rectifying Irish or Scotish whisky with oil or turpentine, therefore making them better diuretics than Hollands, as Hollands are rectified with oil of juniper which is as inferior diuretic to oil of turpentine.[9]

Oil of turpentine can be used to treat poisoning from prussic acid.[10]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Turpentine

  • Camphor Liniment, Compound rectified oil of turpentine is used in a liniment recommended by Dr. Copland to be applied to the stomach and assist in removing pain caused by flatulent colic.[11]
  • Plaster, Blister: should stranguary (painful and frequent urination) be present an enema of turpentine can be given.[12]
  • Spirit of Turpentine: In small doses it is a diuretic, in large doses it is a purgative. It acts as a stimulant is cases of gleet, chronic rheumatism, and when combined with oil of almonds can be used to treat come disorders of the ears (deafness from diseased ceruminous glands). It is also used to remove tapeworms, and the late Dr. Walker (of Leeds) used spirit of turpentine with tincture of gentian to remove tape-worms. Dr. Copland regularly recommends turpentine to treat choler morbus and malignant fevers. It can be externally applied to afford relief to bruises, sprains, and chilblains.[13]

Diseases Treated with Turpentine

General Diseases

  • Ague, or Intermittent Fever: turpentine can be given during the firt (cold) stage of the disease[14]
  • Bruises and Sprains: turpentine combined with distilled vinegar, and camphorated spirits can be rubbed on the affected area[15]
  • Epilepsy: if the disease is caused by worms, turpentine and purgatives can be given to remove the worms[16]
  • Rheumatism: spirit of turpentine is one of the recommended stimulants [17]

Infantile Diseases

  • Croup: if earlier treatments provide no cure or relief, turpentine is to be given in the form of an injection to empty the bowels[18]
  • Worms: turpentine or kuosso are given along with a dose of purgatives to kill, dislodge, and expel the worms[19]

Medical Articles Containing Turpentine

  • Deafness from Deficient Secretion of Wax: oil of turpentine and olive oil, dropped into the affected ear before bed[20]
  • Remedy for Sprain: spirit of turnpentine[21]
  • Rheumatic Embrocation: spirit of turpentine [22]

Prescriptions Containing Turpentine


  • Turpentine Mixture: rectified oil of turpentine, used when diarrhoea has not be cured by other treatments and has been afflicting the patient for some time.[23]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 228
  2. GMCGB, 228
  3. GMCGB, 90
  4. GMCGB, 111
  5. GMCGB, 176
  6. GMCGB, 176
  7. GMCGB, 361
  8. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 492.
  9. Savory, 108
  10. Savory, 176
  11. Savory, 38
  12. Savory, 119
  13. Savory, 143
  14. Savory, 204
  15. Savory, 215
  16. Savory, 230
  17. Savory, 252
  18. Savory, 271
  19. Savory, 286
  20. Savory, 299
  21. Savory, 301
  22. Savory, 301
  23. Savory, 320

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