Oleum Morrhuae. Cod Liver Oil.

Botanical name: 

This oil is obtained from the liver of the common codfish Gadus morrhea. The best qualities are usually obtained by putting fresh livers into an iron pot, applying a heat that should scarcely rise above 150 deg., and stirring them till they get into a pulp. It is then to be put into a canvas bag, when the oil will slowly drain out. After settling for a day or two, it is filtered through fine muslin, or paper. The article thus produced is of a light yellow, and but slightly disagreeable in taste and smell. The greater quantity, however, is not prepared with such care; but the fishermen let the livers lie in open barrels till they get their cargo of fish, and the mass can then scarcely fail to be half putrefactive by the time the boat reaches shore. The contents of these barrels are put into tin vessels, and heated by steam conducted through them; after which the oil is strained, and subsequently filtered. Sometimes the mass is put into large tanks to "clarify" by repose, and then pumped up, filtered, and put upon the market. The latter product is reddish-brown, and so disgusting in smell and taste as to be little used at the present time; though it is asserted that large dealers treat it with animal charcoal to decolorize it and remove a portion of its odor.

Properties and Uses: This oil is the present fashionable remedy with some classes of physicians for all maladies of a scrofulous origin, including scrofulous swellings, rickets, strumous diseases of the joints and bones, and consumption. Also for chronic rheumatism, gout, constipation, worms, and many other maladies, it is highly commended. The praise bestowed upon it in consumption, is somewhat marvelous; but no beneficial effects are said to be expected from it under four or six weeks, and by that time it will have so overtaxed the stomach and assimilative organs as to lead to emaciation. The idea of curing maladies dependent on enfeebled assimilation, by using an article which will presently over-tax the assimilative organs for its digestion, is a truly Homeopathic idea. I have no hesitancy in expressing my conviction that the use of this article is a huge deception to the consumptive; and the more so as no man has yet satisfactorily explained the manner of its action, and as emaciation, extreme dryness of the skin, and even chronic congestion of the lungs, frequently follow its use. For a time, the appetite, flesh, and pulmonary symptoms may improve; but this is only temporarily, and will take place to even better advantage on the use of any bland oil, as goose grease, olive oil, or good butter. The dose of cod-liver oil ranges from one to four teaspoonsful, as the stomach can bear, three times a day.

The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com