Pharmacy Fun Fact: October 30

What ingredient was said to be in laudanum in the 15th century?

What ingredient was said to be in laudanum in the 15th century?

Answer: Unicorn horn

Paracelsus, a pioneer of the medical revolution during the Renaissance and a father of toxicology, can also be credited for the success of opium beginning in the 15th century. He referred to the drug as the “stone of immortality,” which led him to create the drug laudanum.

In addition to opium, Paracelsus said laudanum contained unicorn horn, mummy, bezoar stone from a cow’s digestive tract, henbane, amber, crushed coral and pearls, musk, oils, and bone from the heart of a stag. Occasionally, Paracelsus also said he added frog spawn, orange juice, and some spices.

Following the success of laundanum in the 15th century, Thomas Sydenham created a new version in the 1600s with the addition of alcohol. Sydenham recommended the medication during the plague, and although it did not help those patients, it did become popular as an intoxicant and numbing agent.