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Croton oil extracted from the seeds of Croton tiglium, found in Southeast Asia. The East Africa Croton is predominately used for biofuels. Ingestion of small amounts of croton oil can cause diarrhoea, and larger doses can be lethal. Croton oil is an irritant when applied topically. (

The Compendium included croton oil as an Aperient and Purgative, whereas the Pharmacopeia includes only a topic ointment that contain croton oil. Croton oil is recorded as one of the best purgatives of the time, and the Compendium states that Croton oil can be used in the treatment of tic-douloureux (Trigeminal neuralgia, also referred to as the ‘suicide disease’). (

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Croton Oil Oleum Crotonis

“The oil expressed from the seeds of Croton Tiglium”


“Slightly viscid; colour brownish-yellow, taste acrid, odour faintly nauseous.” Given in the dose of 1/3-1 minim. Used in the preparation of:[1]

  • Linimentum Crotonis

Preparations of Croton Oil

Liniment of Croton Oil / Linimentum Crotonis [2]

  • croton oil (1 fl oz), oil of cajuput (3 ½ fl oz), rectified spirit (3 ½ fl oz)

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Included with Aperients and Purgatives.[3] “Is perhaps the most powerful purgative known; operating in a very short time after it is taken. It has been given with great advantage in cases of obstinate and protracted constipation, or where a violent evacuator is required, as in some cases of apoplexy and injury of the brain, and in certain convulsive, hypochondriac, and maniacal affections. Many practitioners speak highly of its use in neuralgia.” Savory states that there are known cases of tic-douloureux and spasmodic cholera being cured when croton oil has been administered for treatment. Croton oil has also been recommened by Dr. Ainslie when used in frictions to treat chronic rheumatism and “tumours of the articulations.” It has also been effectively used as a counter-irritant and thus employed in the treatment of croup.[4]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Croton

  • Croton Oil: see description[5]

Diseases Treated with Croton

General Diseases

  • Asthma: croton oil used as a purgative[6]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 222
  2. GMCGB, 173
  3. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 390.
  4. Savory, 251
  5. Savory, 51
  6. Savory, 207