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Castor Nova Anolic, c1745-1807

© 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society


Glass jar containing specimens of castoreum from New England. From the Burges Collection.

Text on paper labels reads ‘Catal. Mat. Med. p. 125 No. 35’ and ‘CASTOR NOVA ANOLIC’ (should be ‘CASTOR NOVA ANGLIC.’ – Castor Nova Anglica).

Castoreum is fatty material from the glands of a beaver. It was used to prevent vomiting. It was taken in several ways including powder and as oil of castor.

Pomet, in his Compleat History of Druggs, states that ‘Castor diversly prepared is recommended in Diseases of the Brain and Womb, both inwardly and outwardly. The oily Substance is likewise us’d in Ointment, and in the Composition of Oil of Castor.’ It was used for ‘strengthening the Head and Nerves, being prevalent against the Biting of Serpents and mad Dogs. It helps Forgetfulness, caus’d by Sickness, curing Convulsions, Pains and Noise in the Ears from cold Humours, Coughs, Catarrhs, and Distillation of Rheum’