paregoric

paregoric

[par-i-gawr-ik, -gor-]
paregoric, alcoholic solution of opium and camphor first prepared in the 18th cent. Because of the constipating effect of opium, paregoric has been used to control diarrhea. It was formerly a constituent of many cough elixirs.
Paregoric, or camphorated tincture of opium, also known as tinctura opii camphorata, is a medication known for its antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic properties. It was a household remedy in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was widely used to calm fretful children. In the 20th century its use declined as governments regulated it. (In the United States, paregoric can still be found in the pharmacopeia, but it is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act.)

The principal active ingredient is morphine (0.4 mg/mL) (approximately 2 mg per teaspoon). Other ingredients are benzoic acid, camphor, glycerin, and anise oil. The main effect of this preparation is to increase the muscular tone of the intestine, and also to inhibit normal peristalsis. Its main medicinal use is to control fulminant diarrhea. It is also an antitussive (cough suppressant). Problems with its use include opiate dependency and analgesia which can mask symptoms of diseases that need treatment.

Paregoric is sometimes confused with laudanum, because their chemical names are similar: camphorated tincture of opium (paregoric) vs. tincture of opium (laudanum). However, laudanum contains 10 milligrams of morphine per milliliter, 25 times more than paregoric. Confusion between the two drugs has led to overdose and deaths in several patients. Thus the term "paregoric" should be used instead of "camphorated opium tincture," since the latter may be confused with laudanum.

In popular culture

Paregoric is mentioned in the following works:

Literature

Stage play

  • Alice Childress's play Wedding Band (as the reason for the lover's sudden illness)

Television

Music

  • Paregoric by Black River Circus: the music video for this song shows vintage photos of smoke pollution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and describes the antitussive effects of the medication ("Paregoric let my lungs breath deep").

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