Laudanum

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Laudanum (pronounced /ˈlɔːdᵊnəm/) (also known as Tincture of Opium) is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).[1] It is reddish-brown in color and extremely bitter to the taste. Laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. A potent narcotic by virtue of its high morphine concentration, laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines. Today, laudanum is strictly regulated and controlled throughout the world.

While laudanum is known as a "whole opium" preparation since it historically contained all the opium alkaloids, today the drug is often processed to remove all or most of the noscapine (also known as narcotine) present as this is a strong emetic and does not add appreciably to the analgesic or anti-propulsive properties of opium; the resulting solution is called Denarcotized Tincture of Opium or Deodorized Tincture of Opium (DTO).

Laudanum remains available by prescription in the United States and the United Kingdom, although today the drug's therapeutic indications are generally confined to controlling diarrhea, alleviating pain, and easing withdrawal symptoms in infants born to mothers addicted to heroin or other opioids.

While the terms laudanum and tincture of opium are generally interchangeable, in contemporary medical practice, the latter is used almost exclusively.

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