Browse Items (111 total)

Opium, Opii, and Ext: Opii

All of these names were used on drug jars to denote that a particular jar contained opium. Some of the drug jars held opium extracts, while one held diluted opium. Opium, a narcotic drug derived from the poppy, was used in the treatment of…

Ung: Tuthia (Tutty Ointment)

U or Ung is an abbreviation of unguentum (ointment). Tutty was crude zinc oxide; tutty eye ointment was made from zinc oxide and other ingredients. Zinc oxide has been used as an ingredient in medicinal ointment for centuries.


Spermaceti was a cooling ointment used to treat excoriations of the skin. It was also often used to soften and heal chapped skin. Spermaceti was gathered during whaling and quite valuable. It was also used for candles and cosmetics. Thomas Jefferson…

Polvo Paulinia

Extracted from the Brazilian tree, Guarana, the drug stored in this jar was believed by the Indians to be useful in the prevention and cure of bowel complaints. It was taken by the Indians after being mixed with food or drinks.

Polvo Gierro (Higuero, or Calabash Tree)

Common in America and American islands. The unripe fruit of the Calabash tree was preserved, pounded into a powder and mixed with sugar to treat fevers. The pulp of the ripened fruit was used to treat diarrhea and as remedy for burns.

Pil: Opii (Opium)

'Pil' is an abbreviation of 'pilulae' or 'pills'. In the Middle Ages, the majority of pain relieving mixtures contained at least one of these three ingredients: opium, henbane, or mandrake.


Orvietan or Venice treacle, once believed to be a sovereign remedy against poison. From Orvieto, a city of Italy, where it is said to have been first used.


Tiny stylized containers are painted on some apothecary jars. Some of these containers resemble urns with handles. This may originate from the 'bowl of Hygeia', a bowl with a snake, which is sometimes used as an international symbol of pharmacy.…


Opium is the source of many opiates, including morphine, theabaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The Roman physician Scribonius described the preparation of opium in his formulary.


This detailed view shows an immature seedpod.