Elaterium is the dried juice of the fruit of Ecballium elaterium, common throughout the Mediterranean regions, from Portugal to Southern Russia and Persia, as well as through Central Europe. The method of preparing elaterium, as described by Dioscorides (194), is practically that of the present day. The drug is also mentioned by Theophrastus (633). Elaterium is a powerful hydragogue cathartic, paralleling Croton tiglium in its vicious action, and has been empirically known from the earliest times to the natives of the countries it inhabits. Clutterbuck (154), (1819, London Medical Repository, xii, p. 1-9) recommends a process of obtaining elaterium in irregular cake-like fragments, which is now the form in which it is employed in medicine, hence the common term "Clutterbuck's elaterium."
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.