What Is the Basic History of Turpentine?


Quick Answer

Historically, turpentine has been used as a topical treatment for pain from muscular injuries and rheumatic disorders. Additionally, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine in chewing gums as a tooth ache relief aid.

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Full Answer

Turpentine is a product of the distillation of resins from certain trees such as pines. It is commonly used as an industrial pain solver. However, turpentine has been used by different civilizations and continues to be tested for medical applications. In addition to topical usage for musculoskeletal pain relief, turpentine has been used as an expectorant in cough and cold syrups.

Clinical research may suggest that turpentine baths can be used for pain relief in the treatment of disseminated sclerosis. Similar applications for the treatment of sexual dysfunction have been studied. However, there is no information as to the long-term effects of exposure as of 2015.

The effectiveness of turpentine for pain relief is similar to that of other counterirritants. As a counterirritant, turpentine does not itself target the underlying physiological cause of the pain. Instead, it allows the central nervous system to draw focus away from pain signals from the underlying cause by creating a new mild irritation for the body to focus on.

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