So an interesting thing about laudanum.

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Laudanum! We know it, we covet it, we make Daniel stuff his face with it after an unwise run-in with a puddlemonster or after forcing him to run off a cliff on accident. We scratch our heads and wonder why there’s tinderboxes and drugs everywhere, but no pants. Never any pants.

We know it’s addictive! This stuff is a potent mixture of opium and alcohol, or possibly morphine and alcohol, by the point Daniel was running around. To quote Wiki quoting a book I really need to get around to reading one day, “Opium, and after 1820, morphine, was mixed with everything imaginable: mercury, hashish, cayenne pepper, ether, chloroform, belladonna, whiskey, wine and brandy.” Laudanum would be 50-90% alcohol, with about 10% of the rest being opiate. A full dose could kill an adult who wasn’t already habituated. We can therefore be sure that Daniel is some horrible combination of alcoholic and morphine addict, just as sure as the knowledge that Agrippa will never stop talking.

But did you know Daniel was probably more sensitive to pain as a result of his addiction? There’s been an increasing consensus of evidence over the past decade that opiate dependency creates a hypersensitivity to pain in a lot of people. I’m not talking about increased sensitivity when in withdrawal, I mean all the time, or sometimes in combination. It’s part of why medical professionals are currently trying to figure out what’s the right thing to give people for post-op or chronic pain.

So every time Daniel was hurt? He was less hurt than he thought he was. His body was just freaking the fuck out because he was packed to the gills with opium. Every time he drank more for the pain of getting chewed on by something? Means the next time felt worse.

In summary: Everything in Daniel’s life is an almost hilarious series of errors that just ends in a spiral of horrible and naked.

Beloved co-conspirators,

Please find linked a complete broadcast of Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary. It is available to purchase at this very time.

It is our greatest pleasure and privilege to disclose the album in its full and unabridged form. Contained within are seven critical observations on our own imperial history, presented in stark contrast to our tendency to sanitise our history to justify our present. Each draws crucial parallels with modernity, and implores the listener to consider their own position of privilege in an unjust world. With the rise of right-wing populism, scapegoating and bigotry across the globe, Speak Not… comes at a time when it has never been so relevant.

“We’ve barely even scratched the surface…”

With ecstasy and joy,


Laudanum also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing 10% powdered opium. 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 a painkiller and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines. Nowadays laudanum is strictly regulated and controlled throughout most of the world.


Today, the drug is often processed to remove all or most of the narcotine present, as this is a strong vomit inducing substance and does not add appreciably to the pain reliever or anti-propulsive properties of opium.

Laudanum remains available by prescription in the USA and theoretically in the UK, 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 opiods.

Laudanum in History

A 1901 medical book published for home health use gave the following two “Simple Remedy Formulas” for Dysenterry: (1) Thin boiled starch, 2 ounces; Laudanum, 20 drops; “Use as an injection every six to twelve hours”; (2) Tincture rhubarb, 1 ounce; Laudanum 4 drachms; “Dose: One teaspoonful every three hours.” In a section entitled “Professional Prescriptions” is a formula for Diarrhoea (acute): Tincture opium, deodorized, 15 drops; Subnitrate of bismuth, 2 drachms; Simple syrup, ½ ounce; Chalk mixture, 1½ ounces, “A teaspoonful every two or three hours to a child one year old." Diarrhoea(Chronic): Aqueous extract of ergot, 20 grains; Extract of nux vomica, 5 grains; Extract of Opium, 10 grains, "Make 20 pills. Take one pill every three or four hours.”


The early 20th century brought increased regulation of all manner of narcotics, including laudanum, as the addictive properties of opium became more widely understood, and “patent medicines came under fire largely because of their mysterious compositions.” 

In the US, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 required that certain specified drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and cannabis, be accurately labeled with contents and dosage. Previously many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and other such drugs continued to be legally available without prescription as long as they were labeled. It is estimated that sale of patent medicines containing opiates decreased by 33% after labeling was mandated. In 1906 in Britain and in 1908 in Canada “laws requiring disclosure of ingredients and limitation of narcotic content were instituted.” 


The British physician, Thomas Sydenham (1624-89), sometimes known as ‘the English Hippocrates’, virtually put an official stamp of approval by advocating its use in dysentery and other such conditions.

Also known as ‘tincture of opium’, laudanum was nothing but a solution of opium in alcohol. Sydenham flavoured the tincture with saffron, cinnamon and clover. This exotic preparation came to be called ‘Sydenham’s laudanum’ and became a very popular remedy in Europe. So enthusiastic was his advocacy of opium that Sydenham won the nickname ‘Opiophilos’ (lover of opium). 

(Sourced from Wikipedia and vitruvian-musings.tumblr)