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Album Graecum (Burges Collection of Materia Medica, late 1700s)

© 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society


If this looks like something a dog might have left on the street, you’d actually be right. Album Graecum (‘Greek white’) was a special odourless dog or hyena dung, whitened through exposure to air, that was used in medicine and in the leather-making process. It was recommended as part of a gargle for throat complaints and can be found in medical texts from Roman times up until the 1700s.


Album Graecum was used in a gargle with other, more palatable, ingredients such as quince seeds in red rosewater, and syrup of raspberries and mulberries. It was recommended where enemas and bleeding had already failed.