Paregoric for Colic

Paregoric for Colic; Colic is a common issue that affects many infants during their early weeks of life, causing distress to both babies and parents alike. In the past, paregoric, also known as tinctura opii camphorata, was a traditional patent medicine used for its antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic properties, making it a popular remedy for colic relief. In this blog post, we will delve into the historical use of paregoric for colic, explore modern perspectives, and discuss the safety considerations associated with its usage.


Historical Use of Paregoric for Colic


Paregoric for colic has a dramatic history dating back to the starting of 18th century when it was prepared by Jakob Le Mort, a professor of chemistry at Leiden University, as an elixir for asthma. The “paregoric” term originates from the Greek word “paregoricon,” which initially referred to speaking in a soothing manner. Over time, the word came to signify “anodyne” or pain-relieving like pain killers.


The early formulation of paregoric for colic, known as “Elixir Asthmaticum,” consisted of honey, licorice, flowers of Benjamin, and a mixture of opium, camphor, oil of aniseed, salt of tartar, and spirit of wine. These ingredients were assembled based on the humoral theory of that era. Paregoric’s use for various ailments, including colic in infants, continued for centuries.


Paregoric for Colic in the 18th and 19th Centuries


In the 18th and 19th centuries, paregoric became a household remedy, widely used to control diarrhea in both adults and children, as an expectorant and cough medicine, and to soothe fretful infants. It was even applied to the gums to alleviate teething pain in babies. Various formulations of paregoric were available, and it held its place as a go-to remedy for colic and other ailments during those times.


Safety Concerns and Changing Perspectives of Paregoric for Colic


However, as medical knowledge advanced, concerns about the safety and addictive properties of opium derivatives, which are present in paregoric, grew. Governments began regulating narcotics, including paregoric for colic, leading to a decline in its use. The addictive nature of opium raised alarms, and “patent medicines” like paregoric for colic came under scrutiny for their mysterious compositions.


In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (Now FDA) mandated accurate labeling of certain drugs, including opium-containing medications. This led to a decrease in the sale of paregoric for colic and other opiates as patent medicines.


Modern Perspectives on Colic Relief


Today, medical professionals emphasize that colic is a self-limiting condition that resolves on its own over passage of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly advises against using paregoric for colic or any opium-containing medications for colic relief in infants due to the potential risks and side effects of Paregorics using for colic.

Instead, parents are encouraged to explore safer and evidence-based alternatives for soothing colicky babies. Gentle touch and soothing techniques like rocking and swaddling, feeding adjustments in formula-fed and breastfed babies, probiotics, and over-the-counter gas relief drops designed specifically for infants are now recommended as more suitable and safer options.


Dosage and Formulation of Paregoric for Colic


The traditional formulation of Paregoric for Colic, U.S.P., includes tincture of opium with anise oil, benzoic acid, and camphor. The dosages and administration methods for paregoric have varied over time, with historical recipes mentioning specific measurements for children and adults.


Regulation and Current Availability of Paregoric for Colic


Regulations on narcotics, including paregoric for Colic, continued throughout the 20th century, leading to its classification as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. This classification limited its availability without a prescription.

In recent times, the manufacturing of paregoric experienced temporary discontinuation in the United States but later resumed. Presently, paregoric for colic is still available in the country by prescription, although its use has significantly declined.

Paregoric for Colic
Paregoric for Colic



While paregoric was once a widely used remedy for colic and various ailments, its historical use has diminished due to safety concerns and government regulations. Parents are now advised to explore safer and evidence-based alternatives for soothing colicky babies, as colic is a temporary condition that naturally resolves with time.


As with any health-related concern, consulting healthcare providers, such as pediatricians, is essential for appropriate and safe treatment options. By embracing modern alternatives and seeking professional guidance, parents can navigate the challenging phase of colic with confidence and provide the best care for their little ones.

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