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Castoreum, c1745-1807

© 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society


Glass specie jar containing two specimens of castoreum. From the Burges Collection.

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.

Text on paper contents label reads ‘Cat. mat. med. p. 124 No. 34, Castoreum.’ 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,’.