From our English Pines, if their stems be wounded, the oleo-resin
known as Turpentine, can be procured. This is so truly a vegetable
product, and so readily available for medical uses in every
household, being withal so valuable for its remedial and curative
virtues that no apology is needed for giving it notice as a Herbal
Simple. The said oleo-resin which exudes on incising the bark
furnishes our oil, or so-called sp
rit of Turpentine. But larger
quantities, and of a richer resin, can be had from abroad than it is
practicable for England to provide, so that our Turpentine of
commerce is mainly got from American and French sources.
The oleo-resin consists of a resinous base and a volatile essential
oil, which is usually termed the spirit.
The Pinus Picra, or Silver Fir-tree, yields common 
Turpentine; and to sleep on a pillow made from its yellow shavings
is a capital American device for relieving asthma. Fir cones are
called buntins, and oysters.
Tears, or resin drops, which trickle out on the stems of the Pine, if
taken, five or six of these tears in a day, will benefit chronic
bronchitis, and will prove useful to lessen the cough of
When swallowed in a full dose, Turpentine gives a sensation of
warmth, and excites the secretion of urine, to which it imparts a
violet hue. It also promotes perspiration, and stimulates the
bronchial mucous membrane. From eight to twenty drops may be
given as a dose to produce these effects; but an immoderate dose
will purge, or intoxicate, and stupefy, causing strangury, and
congestion of the kidneys.
For bleeding from the lungs, five drops may be given, and repeated
at intervals of not less than half-an-hour, whilst needed. The dose
may be taken in milk, or on sugar, or bread.
With the object of meeting for a curative purpose such symptoms
occurring as disease which large doses of this particular drug will
produce, as if by poisoning, in a healthy person, quite small doses of
Turpentine oil will promptly relieve simple congestion of the
kidneys, when occurring as illness, it may be from exposure to cold,
and accompanied by some feverishness, with frequent urination, as
well as a dragging of the loins. On which principle three or four
drops of a diluted tincture of Turpentine (made with one part of
Turpentine to nine parts of spirit of wine), given in a spoonful of
milk every four hours, will speedily dispel the congestion, thus
acting as an infallible specific, and a similar dose of the same
tincture will quickly subdue rheumatic inflammation of the eyes.
 A pleasant form in which to administer Turpentine, whether
for chronic bronchitis or for kidney congestion from cold, is a
confection. This may be made by rubbing up one part of oil of
turpentine, with one part of liquorice powder, and with two parts of
clarified honey. Combine the first two together, then add the honey.
If the Turpentine separates, pour it off, and add it again with plenty
of rubbing until it unites. From half to one teaspoonful of this
confection, when mixed with two tablespoonfuls of peppermint-water,
will be found palatable, and may be repeated two or three
times in the day.
What is called Terebene, a most useful medicine for winter cough,
is produced by the action of sulphuric acid on Turpentine. From five
to ten drops may be taken on sugar three or four times in the day,
and its vapour acts by inhalation as a very useful antiseptic sedative
in consumptive disease of the lungs.
Externally, Turpentine is stimulating and counter-irritating, and
derivative. When applied to the skin, unless properly diluted,
Turpentine will cause redness and smarting to a painful degree, with
an outbreak of small blisters. As an embrocation, the oil of
turpentine mixed with spirit of wine and camphor, together with
soap liniment, proves very efficacious for the relief of sciatica, and
for the chronic rheumatism of joints. Also, when compounded with
wax and resin, it makes an excellent healing ointment for indolent,
and unhealthy sores.
In Dublin, Turpentine is commingled with peppermint water, and
used as an external stimulant for chronic bronchitis.
The famous liniment of St. John Long consisted of oil of turpentine
one part, acetic acid one part, and liniment of camphor one part.
This was of admirable  service for rubbing along the spine to
relieve the irritability of the spinal nerves, and it has proved
effectual to modify or prevent epileptic attacks, by being thus
applied. In cases of colic attending obstinate constipation, with
strengthless distension of the bowels, Turpentine mixed with starch
or thin gruel, an ounce to the pint, and administered as a clyster,
makes one of the most reliable and safe evacuants. Also as a
remedy for round worms, six or eight drops (more or less according
to age) may be safely and effectively given to a child on one or
more nights in milk.
Pills made from Chian Turpentine, which is got from Cyprus, were
extolled by Dr. Clay of Manchester, in 1880, as a cure for cancer of
the womb, and for some other forms of cancerous disease. From
five to ten grains were to be given in a pill, or mixed with mucilage
as an emulsion, so that in all daily, after food, and in divided doses,
one hundred and eighty grains of this Turpentine were swallowed;
and the quantity was gradually increased until five hundred grains a
day were taken. In many cases this method of treatment proved
A small quantity of powdered sulphur was also incorporated by Dr.
Clay in his Chian pills. About the fourth day the pain was relieved,
and the cancerous growth would melt away in a period of from four
to thirteen weeks. The arrest of bleeding and the continued freedom
from glandular infection after a prolonged use of this Chian
Turpentine were highly important points in the improvement
From the Pinus Sylvestris an oil is distilled by steam, and of this
from ten drops to a teaspoonful may be given for a dose, in milk, for
chronic rheumatism or chronic bronchitis.
 It is most useful in the treatment of diphtheria to burn in the
room, near the patient, a mixture of turpentine and tar in a pan or
deep dish. The fumes serve to dissolve the false membrane, and
have helped to effect a cure in desperate cases.
This tree had the Anglo-Saxon name Pimm, from pen, or pin, a
sharp rock,--ab acumine foliorum, or perhaps as a contraction
of picinus--pitchy. It furnishes from its leaves an extract, and the
volatile oil. Wool is saturated with the latter, and dried, being then
made into blankets, jackets, spencers, and stockings, for the use of
rheumatic sufferers. There are establishments in Germany where the
Pine Cure is pursued by the above means, together with medicated
baths. Pine cones were regarded of old by the Assyrians as sacred
symbols, and were employed as such in the decoration of their
temples. From the tops of the Norway Spruce fir a favourite
invigorating drink is brewed which is known in the north as spruce
beer. This has an excellent reputation for curing scurvy, chronic
rheumatism, and cutaneous maladies. Laplanders make a bread from
the inner bark of the Pine.
Tar (pix liquida) is furnished abundantly by the Pinus
Sylvestris, or Scotch Fir, and is extracted by heat. The tree is cut
into pieces, which are enclosed in a large oven constructed for the
purpose: fire is applied, and the liquid tar runs out through an
opening at the bottom. It is properly an empyreumatic oil of
turpentine, and has been much used in medicine both externally and
internally. Tar water was extolled in 1744, by Bishop Berkley,
almost as a panacea. He gave it for scurvy, skin eruptions, ulcers,
asthma, and rheumatism. It evidently promotes the secretions,
especially the urine.
 Tar yields pyroligneous acid, oil of tar, and pitch: as well as
guiacol and creasote.
Syrup of tar is an officinal medicine in the United States of America
for chronic bronchitis, and winter cough. By this the expectoration
is made easier, and the sleep at night improved. From one to two
teaspoonfuls are given as a dose, with or without water. Also tar
pills are prepared of pitch and liquorice powder in equal parts, five
grains in the whole pill. Two or three of these may be taken twice or
three times in the day.
Tar ointment is highly efficacious against some forms of skin
disease; but in eczema and allied maladies of the skin, no
preparation of tar should be employed as long as the skin is actively
inflamed, or any exudation of moisture is secreted by it.
Dr. Cullen met with a singular practice respecting Tar. A leg of
mutton was put to roast, being basted during the whole process with
tar instead of butter. Whilst roasting, a sharp skewer was frequently
thrust into the substance of the meat to let the juices escape, and
with the mixture of tar and gravy found in the dripping pan, the
body of the patient was anointed all over for three or four nights
consecutively, throughout all this time the same body linen being
worn. The plan proved quite successful in curing obstinate lepra.
A famous liquor called mum was concocted by the House of
Brunswick, some of which was sent to General Monk. It was chiefly
brewed from the rind and tops of firs, and was esteemed very
powerful against the formation of stone, and to cure all scorbutick
distempers. Various herbs, as best approved by the maker, were
infused with the mum in concocting it, such as betony, birch, burnet,
brooklime, elder-flowers, horse-radish,  marjoram, thyme,
water-cress, pennyroyal, etc., together with several eggs, the shells
not cracked or broken! The Germans, especially in Saxony, have so
great a veneration for mum that they fancy their bodies can never
decay as long as they are lined, and embalmed with so powerful a
preserver. The Swedes call the fir the scorbutick tree to this day.
Tar is soluble in its own bulk of spirit of wine, rectified, but
separates when water is added. Inhaled, its vapour is very useful in
Tar water should be made by stirring a pint of tar with half a gallon
of water for fifteen minutes, and then decanting it. From half-a-pint
to a pint may be taken daily, and it may be used as a wash. Or from
twenty to sixty drops of tar are to be swallowed for a dose several
times in the day, whether for chronic catarrhal affections, or for
irritable urinary passages. Tar ointment is prepared with five parts
of tar to two pounds of yellow wax. It is an excellent application for
scald head in a child.
Juniper tar oil is known as oil of Cade, and Birch tar is got from
the Butcher's Broom. A recognised plaster and an ointment are
made with Burgundy pitch (from the Picus Picea) and yellow
Probably the modern employment of carbolic acid, and its various
combinations--all derived from tar--for neutralising the septic
elements of disease, and for acting as germicides, was unknowingly
forestalled by the sagacious Right Reverend Lord Bishop of Cloyne,
in his Philosophical Reflections and Inquiries concerning the
virtues of Tar Water, two centuries ago, when the cup which
cheers but not inebriates was first told of by him, long before
Cowper. Bishop Berkley said, I do, verily, think there is not any
other medicine whatsoever  so effectual to restore a crazy
constitution and to cheer a dreary mind: or so likely to subvert that
gloomy empire of the spleen which tyranniseth over the better sort.
In Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, the wife of Joe
Gargery is described as possessed of great faith in the curative
virtues of Tar water.