paregoric n : medicine used to treat diarrhea [syn: camphorated tincture of opium]
EtymologyLate Latin paregoricus, from Greek παρηγοριχος ‘encouraging, soothing’, from παρηγορειν ‘console, soothe’.
- 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
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 cultureParegoric is mentioned in the following works:
- Nelson Algren's short story "The Captain Has Bad Dreams"
- many works by William S. Burroughs, including The Yage Letters, Junky, Queer and Naked Lunch.
- Robin Cook's Harmful Intent (1990)
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Three Gables
- Richard Fariña's Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me
- James T. Farrell's Studs Lonigan
- William Golding's Rites of Passage (laudanum is also mentioned in the book)
- Homer Hickham's The Coalwood Way (the user in the story is ironically named "Poppy")
- Rick Moody's novel The Ice Storm
- John Steinbeck's East of Eden
- Eudora Welty's short story "June Recital" from The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1980)
- Kobo Abe's The Box Man
- The "anonymous" work Go Ask Alice
- Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion
- Alice Childress's play Wedding Band (as the reason for the lover's sudden illness)
paregoric in French: Élixir parégorique
paregoric in Spanish: Paregórico
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