AskDefine | Define paregoric

Dictionary Definition

paregoric n : medicine used to treat diarrhea [syn: camphorated tincture of opium]

User Contributed Dictionary



Late Latin paregoricus, from Greek παρηγοριχος ‘encouraging, soothing’, from παρηγορειν ‘console, soothe’.


  • /pærɪ'gɒrɪk/


  1. a painkiller; a medicine which soothes or relieves pain
    • 1922: Chloroform. Overdose of laudanum. Sleeping draughts. Lovephiltres. Paragoric poppysyrup bad for cough. Clogs the pores or the phlegm. — James Joyce, Ulysses
    • 2004: My local doctor promises to accompany me ashore, spare no expense to obtain powerful paregorics & remain at my bedside until my recovery is compleat, even if Prophetess must leave for California without us. — David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Extensive Definition

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 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:


Stage play

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



  • 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").
paregoric in French: Élixir parégorique
paregoric in Spanish: Paregórico

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Amytal, Amytal pill, Demerol, Dolophine, H, Luminal, Luminal pill, M, Mickey Finn, Nembutal, Nembutal pill, Seconal, Seconal pill, Tuinal, Tuinal pill, alcohol, amobarbital sodium, analgesic, anodyne, barb, barbiturate, barbiturate pill, black stuff, blue, blue angel, blue devil, blue heaven, blue velvet, calmative, chloral hydrate, codeine, codeine cough syrup, depressant, depressor, dolly, downer, goofball, hard stuff, heroin, hop, horse, hypnotic, junk, knockout drops, laudanum, liquor, lotus, meperidine, methadone, morphia, morphine, narcotic, opiate, opium, pacifier, pain killer, pen yan, phenobarbital, phenobarbital sodium, purple heart, quietener, rainbow, red, scag, secobarbital sodium, sedative, shit, sleep-inducer, sleeper, sleeping draught, sleeping pill, smack, sodium thiopental, somnifacient, soother, soothing syrup, soporific, tar, tranquilizer, turps, white stuff, yellow, yellow jacket
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1