It is hard to imagine the open use of the opium in paregoric, given our recent history of an opioid crisis. Yet, paregoric dates back to the early 1700s and is still in limited use today. This writer took paregoric back in the 1950s in those rare instances when I had diarrhea. My parents were aware that it could become habit forming, but that didn’t stop occasional use.
Paregoric is a camphorated opium tincture that for centuries has treated diarrhea, coughs, and pain. It first appeared in the early 18th century. Jakob Le Mort, a professor of chemistry at Leiden University, first introduced paregoric. The word “paregoric” draws from the Greek word “paregoricon,” which means “soothing.”
Paregoric originally treated asthma. Later, by the 19th century, it served as a household remedy for diarrhea, coughs, and teething pain. It also calmed children and induced sleep. (No big surprise, given its narcotic content. Earlier formulas could also contain over 40% alcohol. Nighty night!)
In the early 20th century, the federal government began regulating the sale of paregoric because it contained opium. However, people could still get paregoric over-the-counter at most pharmacies until the 1970s.
Today, paregoric still treats diarrhea, but it is no longer available over-the-counter. It is a prescription medication that can be used to treat diarrhea in adults and children. It also treats pain and acts as a sleep aid. Paregoric is safe and effective only when used as directed. Paregoric can be addictive and can have other side effects, such as drowsiness, constipation, and nausea.
Opium is not the only active ingredient in paregoric. Paregoric also contains benzoic acid, camphor, and anise oil. These other ingredients can also have an effect on the patient. Remember, many formulas used to contain a lot of alcohol too.
Benzoic acid is a preservative that helps to prevent the growth of bacteria in paregoric. It can also have a mild anesthetic effect.
Camphor is a stimulant that can help to increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can also have a mild analgesic effect.
Anise oil is a flavoring agent that can help to mask the taste of opium. It can also have a mild expectorant effect.
The combination of these ingredients makes paregoric a more effective treatment for diarrhea than opium alone. Paregoric is also less likely to cause addiction than opium alone.
Who Makes It?
Paregoric has been the product of many different companies over the years. Some of the most well-known companies that have produced paregoric include:
Parke-Davis: Parke-Davis was one of the first companies to produce paregoric. They began producing it in the early 1800s and continued to do so until the early 1900s.
Sterling Drug: Sterling Drug acquired Parke-Davis in the early 1900s and continued to produce paregoric until the 1970s.
Roxane Laboratories: Roxane Laboratories acquired Sterling Drug in the 1970s and continued to produce paregoric until the 2000s.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals: Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquired Roxane Laboratories in the 2000s and discontinued the production of paregoric in 2017.
Today, paregoric is no longer produced by any major pharmaceutical company. However, it is still available through compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies are able to create custom medications that are not available over-the-counter or by prescription.
- Year Started: 1725
- Year Ended: 2099
- Origin Of Name: Greek word for “soothing”
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: generic
- Owner While In Use: generic
- Owner Successor: generic
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Pepto Bismol
- Naics Code: 325412
- Location Headquarters: N/A