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This is a drug called theriac, a thick sticky liquid medicine (called an electuary) made from up to 64 often strange and exotic ingredients – the flesh of snakes was considered one of the more vital. Originally it was used to treat poisoning and animal bites. The name ‘theriac’ is from the Greek therion, a “wild or venomous animal”. Galen recommended the treatment for snake bites. It later became a universal cure for a range of illnesses and diseases and was still in use up until the 1770s.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: theriac

An ointment used as an antidote to snake venom or other poison.