THE FORMULA OF THERIAC – the Teriaca AndromachusScritto da Marcello Fumagalli il 16 Gennaio 2018The formula and ingredients of Venice treacle (Theriac). The secret knowledge how to make a Venice theriac or Teriaca Andromachus
History and admirable virtues of the drug oldest: the Teriaca Andromachus
If ever there was an antidote for excellence, with magical virtues and able to solve any kind of evil, this was the Theriac, Teriaca or Triaca. Originally, its main use was to fight poisons and in particular poisons injected to the bite of „poisonous fairs“ as the viper. On the origin of ‘electuary and his name, there are no doubts. History and legend intertwine only when you try to understand how it came to the Romans the miraculous recipe.
How to make Venice theriac or Andromachus triace
Mediavel labaraty – How to make Venice theriac or Andromachus triace
The name comes from the greek word „therion“ used to call the viper and or poisonous animals in general, while the composition, from the world famous antidote „Mitridato“ used and invented by the great King Mithridates of Pontus.
According to the story told by the oldest Roman doctors, then reported by pharmacists in their pharmacopoeias, Mithridates is served every day of his antidote to combat obsessive fear of being poisoned to the point that you assuefò (mithridatism). When the Roman legions of Pompey won his army, the King, deciding to choose death to avoid falling into their hands, could not use the poison, but had to resort to the sword.
„Drew the sword from the helmet a powerful poison that bevutolo together with two daughters, Nicias & Mitridatia, who were with him, not puote die, it made him any harm, for he long inured to remedy this Theriaca her. And he was force wanting to get out of life get killed by Bithio his soldier. that is not it happened already to the two young people who were deprived of a lot of security, however, that being the poison too pernicious evil & caderono he suffered death. „2
Pompey became aware of the fact sought, among the spoils of war, the recipe of Mithridates and found …
“Forcieretti full of evidence, comments & descriptions of the antidote which he then transferred in Latin by his freedman man will Leuco excellent grammar in“.
The doctors of ancient Rome were so aware of the remedy.
It is up to Andromachus the Elder, doctor of Nero, perfecting the recipe Mitridato which he thought to add the viper flesh sure that the use of „fair poisonous„, would have increased the utility, the force and virtues dell’antidoto . Thus was born the Teriaca Magna or Teriaca Andromachus.
The composition underwent significant changes over time, and the first to intervene with the replacements was the doctor Avicenna 4 philosopher who added thirteen simple togliendone other.
In the oldest manuscripts to the less ancient antidotaries and monographs apologetic, theriac has always been exalted as universal remedy, but its success, among thousand mysteries of its composition and preparation, exploded in the sixteenth century.
Throughout the century the „spices“ of Venice, Bologna, Naples and Rome was prepared in large quantities and soon became an important voice for the economy of the town and especially for that of Venice with spices Three Towers, and at the Ostrich Head gold, meet the demands from all over Italy and abroad. The Venetian Teriaca seemed to be the best of all.
All simple drugs such as Long pepper, the Phù (valerian), Opium, the Cinnamon (cinnamon), the Zaffrano (saffron), the Mirrha, the Opobalsamo (Balsamo Eastern) Wine (Malvasia) were chosen with great care by apothecaries Venetians also favored by the fact that the Serenissima, in those days, was the capital of the trade with the East, and this allowed ease when availing and using drugs whose oriental fragrance and gave the rarity prepared a superior quality. even the viper flesh, expertly prepared, was used speciale.Si vipers Euganean Hills that had to be captured at a specific time of the year and did not have to be male or pregnant.
The preparation of Teriaca, in Venice, was made public in taking almost a tone of celebration. Apothecaries were operating in the presence of the „Ministers of Justice and de ‘Gentlemen of the College of Chartered Surveyors art of Pharmacy and the help of many noble apparatuses“ and followed a ritual studied in particolari.Chi operated by chopping and stirring was dressed white jacket and red pants in order to better show the public that attended. The period of the year dedicated to the event fell in May as some components reached, only at that time, the perfect state of use. The respect of astral influences also had a weight in the preparation being able to donate, according to the beliefs of the time, special faculties to remedy.
Preparing public was invented by chemists that, in doing so, they intended to take precautions for their financial commitment. The ritual required that the drugs were shown and without touching the public, enhancing the quality and authenticity. Apothecaries so hoped to convince potential users to buy, if they had had the need, that specific theriac subtracting, to many charlatans who prepared and propagated teriache falsified, composed of adulterated drugs and little cost, potential customers.
The art and preparatory theriac Venetian masters drew apothecary from all parts of Italy and of this he has witness in the history of the „most famous hospitals.“
In an ancient monastery of Camaldoli administrative document can be read in a note, what was spent by the triaca speziere to buy „up the fair Vinegia“ while in a recipe of the eighteenth century, always kept in the pharmacy of the monastery, states that the triaca used by the monks was prepared according to the Venetian school.
Between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century even the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan sent to Venice, to learn the art of preparatory Teriaca, his teacher speziere GB Cucchi which became, then, the first to produce it and spread it in Milan giving a decent profit all’Ospedale5.
The druggist Venetian named Giorgio Melichio, known throughout Europe and master of „Spetiaria the Ostrich in Venice„, in his work „in Avertimenti compositioni de ‘medicines for use of spetiaria“ (1595) 6, in order to teach their colleagues in the art of composing medicines, describes the preparation in the following way:
“I will say, however, that much we use it nell’inclita City Vinegia, garden and publica piaza across Europe: adorned with so experts & Spetiali experts who have years ratione to mondo.Dirò hora just long must one avertito in Theriaca made by me in Vinegia this year ordinatamente.Fur prepared all simplici necessarij for the composition as well as of the Theriaca Mithridato and such marks choice furno put in beautiful vases and stored in luoco publico & very ornate for three continuous days to effect sian spettaculo to and all that could each wanting to examine the above things: & on the fourth day, the squad Excellent Priori, and Doctors of Directors so as to spetiali, and made diligent examines de ingredients, furno with much diligence removed in weight according to the description available so that you do not take it if you do not co’l right weight varying ponto more or less. After they removed things to pound grossly and all were put in a large bowl so well together meschiate routes and then departed in six mortari & you gave to pound because things s’unissero wet with dry That it might not s’attacassero if well in the mortar of the ontuosità mirrha the Anco did. First fur bruised them trochisci of vipers; imperochè when I am well prepared is their substance similar to glue fleshing difficult to crush them: then add the pepper longo and shortly after the cassia, the cinamono and broken..please rimetton in the basin. Then it breaks pounding the irios, cost, Gentiana, the aristologia, the centaurio, the pentasilon, the meo, the phu, the stecado, the squinanto & the aspic; which is broken mischiatano with others in the basin. Below you stomp them seeds of turnips, the pettosello, the anisi, Seseli, fennel, thlaspi, ammi, dauco & the amomo. Et routes furo aggionte with the other; avertendo that for each order of things that you added in the mortar pounding a little mirrha to such things that in treading the spetie not s’attenessero to the bottom of the mortar imperochè the ontuosità of mirrha binds things eshalabili. After you tamp the Scordio, burning bush, horehound, Calamento, polio, chamepiteo, folio & hiperico. The gum and incense is pestaranno otherwise the mortar sun, lest not s’attaccassero with other spetie, as we have seen in others with experience. Li trochisci shillings, and hedicroi together just sian pests and united at any other spetie. Roses & zaffrano sian put a little in the sun & after plague & gionte at any other.
The reupontico both pesto & aggionte with the other. The land is trite Lemnia effortlessly, agaric is screwed to Tamiso & so you let us in the dust. The tires saran well bruised & after there aggionga vin malvatico & are for one night and the day sequent & infused with proper portion of said wine sian past the sieve, the like also you will do in the juice and Liquiritia & de l ‘hipocistis: the acatia you triturarà with them seeds that it is put in with them grind them, percioche the Oriental is not dry & arid that easily pestrarà with them seeds.„
The description continues with a list of the different Grinding, sieving and mixing of other valuable drugs previously reduced to a fine powder, and concludes with the admission of the same apothecary, on the replacements, made with substitutes, some components such as ‘opobalsamo with the oil of nutmeg, the carpobalsamo with juniper berries, the amomo with amomo racemose ensuring the theriac composed by him in the year 1573 did not replace any other ingredient and it hopes to find again later little time and without badar in spending, those drugs that with diligent care had to replace.
The master speziere then describes the method of preservation dell’antidoto and its relative container to be a ….
“vitreato vessel, which is able, the fourth part of more that is not the antidote to every day & there meschierà in & in the first days after the fact is loose discovered the vase for meza hora of the day & after it tien tight.“
The last lines are for himself and for a consideration relating to the cost of the preparation:
“And because of the compositione so precioso antidote I understood very great effort & expense, but if I can not very star amirato, how some of the sell for a small price and I can not judge another which together with the antidote still sell the soul in Sathan. „
A special chapter in ‘illustration of the preparation is dedicated to Trocisci of vipera7 that were prepared well in advance of the date fixed for the public demonstration. They were dry and ferment in the right not to spoil the antidote. The trocisci were prepared with the meat of the viper cleaned entrails and private head and tail. The viper, boiled in fresh spring water, salted and flavored with dill, after being drained from his broth was mixed with dry bread finely crushed and finally handmade in rounded shapes and dried in the shade. Vipers employed, as already mentioned, could not be captured at any time, but in a specific period that is, a few weeks after awakening winter and not, for example, during the summer otherwise the antidote, prepared with them, would provide too much thirst to those who had made use of. Even vipers taken before entering hibernation they had the right qualities to be used as too fat and therefore not appropriate for the composition of trocisci. Gradually the vipers of the Euganean Hills were exterminated all, apothecaries Venetians were forced to turn to the first of the Hills of Vicenza and Verona, then to those of Friuli and finally to those breeding.
As claimed by the physician and chemist Joseph Donzelli Neapolitan philosopher, in his work „Theatre Pharmaceutical Dogmatic and spagyric“ 8 of 1763, the Teriaca was also prepared chemically. The Donzelli describes the method stating that the chemical preparation is as effective as the traditional one, since they are maintained without change, all the components and their respective doses. For the Teriaca Chemicals is used the essential parts extracted with water screw separating them from each subject fecciosa whose function was only to increase the volume of the medicament. The cost of chemical remedy was very high and many judged that the antidote chemical could not be sold easily.
Theriac continued to be prepared in Bologna until 1796, in Venice at the apothecary Head Golden until the middle of 1800 and in Naples up to 1906.
The miraculous recipe Teriaca Andromachus
Were various recipes Teriaca indicated by doctors and apothecaries in different times, but one that was identified to be the true and only Andromachus the Elder is one described by Galen that entrusted to the poet Damocrate the task of transcribing it in verse iambici10 to maintain just the proportion of doses of all drugs simple who entered. In fact in many pharmacopoeias of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the preparation is reported as Teriaca of Damocrate.
Bartholomew Maranta 11, distinguished physician and chemist Neapolitan (1572) in his famous work dedicated to Teriaca and Mitridato „Della Theriaca et Mithridato of“ states that many are „those special and doctors who take away the recipe from certain barbarians, below which are the most errors that the words „and adds that he reported the recipe is one that Andromachus the Old administered several times successfully Emperor Nero and Galen handed down with the help of the verses of Damocrate.
The sixty components, omitting wine and honey, which in this case entering the remedy as excipients, are divided into six groups of which: the first consists of an element, the second four, the third eight, the fourth sixteen, the twenty-four fifth and the sixth of eight.
The division into six groups and the number of simple, coming in each group, had a correlation with the weight of each single drug in order to obtain: for four groups, the weight of one pound for each, one half and one sixth of part of the pound which, added to the half pounds and the weight of the wine and honey, that were added, would form another pound. All this to prevent errors and to assure anyone who wanted to prepare the antidote the freedom to compose in quantity multiple or submultiple, compared to the original weight, without the risk of nasty weigh fractions of a pound.
Many of the herbal drugs, used in the preparation, in the Western world were not found either because the habitats of species requiring special growing conditions, and because unknown. This imposed the apothecaries finding substitutes they retain the therapeutic power original.
The practice of substitution was common not only for the preparation of treacle, but in general for all the remedies that were prepared. It was allowed only in cases of absolute impossibility of supply and, absolutely prohibited, if the purpose was only to speculate on costs. Permission led many „spetiali speculators“ to mask, behind the inability of supply, substitutions oddest creating drugs that had no therapeutic effect. This prompted the monks Speziari first, and then those trees, to create in the immediate vicinity of their „pharmacy“ or in universities, botanical gardens or „gardens of the simple“ where they were, with great care, cultivated plant species more difficult to find.
The realization of the vegetable gardens cultivation reduced the spread of counterfeit drugs plants especially those rare or hard to find.
Still Maranta Bartholomew, in chapter VII of his work, denounces the improper use of fake drugs to the point that if Andromachus …..
“Fusse been alive, ricontrandola harebbe not recognized“ and „harebbe been able to come to judgment, querelandoli of insults and falsehoods who havesse willed to his opinion.“
Bartolomeo Maranta declares that at the time of Galen was not used any substitute „but all were the real“ and thereby encourages „the Special to ‘what for most is committed to the health humana“ to provide, before attempting to prepare the Teriaca , of all the „simple“ that you can have and not just those that in Italy you can not have, but also those that in Italy you can get, „but you can outside haver best.“
An idea of how common was the replacement of the simple Teriaca is also found nell’antidotario, the „spetiale Parmesan“ Jerome Calestani, „Of osservationi“ (1584) which shows the attempts of many notables who sought medical and Speziari compose the Teriaca replacing some of the drugs with other available more or less cost. The replacement did not escape even the trocisci viper that had as a substitute for the tormentilla plant into a powder and mixed with pyrethrum and alum was shown to remove the torment of toothache.
Virtues and uses of theriac
In an apology to Teriaca, written between 1595 and 1605, the physician and philosopher Horace Guarguanti by Soncino in addressing illustrious and reverend Ludovico Taverna Bishop of Lodi and Apostolic Nuncio to the Signoria of Venice Venice, writes that the use the admirable remedy has become crucial to defend the health of human beings from countless diseases and no longer just for the snake bites or more generally against poisons as Galen thought.
The doctor confirms that the remedy is so admirable that besides preserving health makes life more peaceful and rejuvenating extension every sense and that’s why the great characters and the Roman Emperors had like custom to every make of Luna take two scropoli13 in one tablespoon of honey with two glasses of water.
So Teriaca become the remedy that fights poisons created in the human body from disease disparate and is indicated to fight coughs old and new, for chest pains (angina), for inflammation of the stomach and colic pains, for malignant fevers caused by the decay of the kidney, to strengthen the defense of the heart and its spirit, to defend the body from any poison and bites of snakes and dogs, for restoring force to the bodies corrupted by occult causes, for restoring lost appetite , to heal the ancient migraines, to treat dizziness and difficulty of hearing, to awaken appetites venereal, to curb the madness of the frantic inducing sleep, to facilitate the evacuation of worms and especially those wide and finally to preserve the body from infection such as leprosy and plague.
Some witnesses, including that of Aristotle in the Book of Heaven, ensure that all those who used Teriaca never died of plague because the remedy was acting on the poison weakening and, in this sense, could defend the human body infected by the spread of ‘infection. The effectiveness of the antidote was not only due to its portentous formula, but also depended on the degree of maturation. In the recent past, the pharmaceutical technology recurred often, especially syrups, the vesting period, which consisted of a time when you left to rest so that the mixture acquires all properties. For theriac was worth the same. Goodness dell’antidoto was measured with years of maturation and the maximum force it reached after the sixth and up to thirty-sixth year. In fact, before the six years the product was not considered properly fermented and „things that make it up are not the most efficacious virtue.“
The Teriaca was administered in various ways, and everything depended on the amount and type of evil „was causing the body.“ The wine mixed with honey used very much in the treatment of malignant fevers, while the water „cooked or brewed“ could be the vehicle for administration in cases in which the antidote was taken as a tonic. A necessary condition to obtain the maximum benefit from the prepared teriacale was to purge the body well before the treatment because anyone who had had the audacity to give medicine without that „the body was in a state of freedom“ would have worsened the situation of the patient. The doctor tells Guarguanti that a man sick with fever quart, despite not having been purged, was treated with Teriaca that did grow all fevers until the man died for having misused the antidote.
“It is therefore necessary that the Medici habbiano judgment that they know about all those things that are sought about distributing good remedies, but mainly that they know the opportunity that is the time of work.“
Known the virtues of Teriaca remains to describe the „right way to use it“ and this is considered the age of the invalid and the degree of debilitation. The amounts ranged from a half-drama dramma14 taken with water and decoctions proportionate to the type of harm.
In special cases it was indicated to take avvoltolata in a gold leaf followed by a moderate amount of wine aromatic white or red. The wine had its specific role because of his virtue could seconds or less readily spread the remedy for the whole body making the therapeutic action more promptly and effectively. The gold, according to ancient beliefs, but it was considered a reinforcement. Even the seasons of the year were considered for treatment with Teriaca and winter was the most suitable period following the fall, the spring and last summer. During the summer administration of Teriaca had to be justified by a particularly serious situation otherwise had to be avoided
“why wont Theriaca disseccar all habito body, warm & vincerlo.Et therefore been that makes these same effects & she also wins & dries all habito body does that all the virtues very easily dissolves & everything body wanted for everything from excessive force inflamed: waves must one be afraid to use it. „
Description of some of the components of Teriaca Andromaco
Before addressing the examination of some of the components Teriaca simple drugs should be remembered that the art of speziere included a knowledge of the timing of collection of herbal drugs that would later form the raw materials for the preparation Galen. So each drug was used only if collected in the growing season as appropriate force and virtue would be bad if the part of the plant to be used had not reached the right stage of ripeness. Roots, leaves, flowers, gums and juices had to be so perfect and cool to be transformed by speziere. Each component was carefully chosen, divided according to „measure and substance“ washed with large amounts of spring water, freshly drawn, removing all traces of soil or other impurities then lay in the shade in well-aerated and left to dry for the time appropriate. Soft parts, tires and juices, was filtered to remove the parts fecciose and to make them more consistent in color and flavor.
For the preparation of the Teriaca speziere prepared at different times some of the components such as trocisci of squill, and those ones viperini edicroi in order to have them ready for final operations.
The trocisci served to maintain the properties of the active ingredients so that they were the ones viperini were formed from mixing meat Viper boiled, mixed with bread crumbs, those of scilla drug plant mixed with flour d ‘Orobo16 and those edicroi knead by various drugs. All mixtures were divided into small portions and shaped like spheres, squares or triangles.
The plan of the Scylla was collected in the countryside near the sea between Piperno and Terracina, but also imported from Spain and the part used in the pharmacy was the bulb. For its resemblance to the onion, was also called Onion marina.
Its therapeutic concerned body aches, cough cronicizzata, the vomiting and the overflow of gall. In fact we now know that the active ingredient is a heart tonic and diuretic pharmacological activity similar to that of digital while not giving the side effects of the accumulation.
The trocisci Edicroi were formed from a mixture of many drugs as the amaraco (Origanum Majorana), the aspalato (a scented wood native to the island of Rhodes), the calamus (Acorus verus), the true cost (Mint Roman) the Pontic phu (valerian), the cinnamon (cinnamon), the grass Maro (oregano vulgaris). They did not have a precise therapeutic use but only the function of the spice mixture. Most of the constituents of trocisci edicroi are still used today in herbal and in cooking as flavoring.
Other constituents that have fueled discussions between doctors, spezieri and chemicals, especially with regard to the efficacy, quality and their availability are the Opium, and Opobalsamo.
The Opium used in theriac came mostly from Thebes as the quality was superior to that of opium granlunga turkish. Opium Tebaico differed from the turkish for purity it was „thick, heavy, bitter taste, sleeping pill nell’odorarlo, easy to be solved by the water, smooth white“ while the turkish was „harsh, negro, granelloso, meschiato of fronds and other nasties. „The processing of the „gravy poppy“ in Egypt was already known many centuries before the birth of Christ and the product of that process was used to soothe the most atrocious evils.
In Turkey, the use and processing of opium began much later and was never perfected over the status of “meconium“, that is, of that juice that was obtained by cooking in water and subsequent concentration of the flower and leaves of the poppy “cum happen & folia decoquuntur Succus meconium nuncupatur Multum opium ignavior“ (Pliny).
The opium in Turkey was in use among the soldiers, „before dangerous operations of war,“ he chewed discrete quantities.
In the West the Opium was used in many recipes remedies anodyne and its effects were observed by renowned doctors and spezieri as Paracelsus, Osvaldo Crollio, and others, but the recipe was more successful than the opiate laudanum Nepentes or invented by the Quercetano.Con same name Homer described the remedy that Elena gave Telemachus „to drive away the inner passions and subsequently induce joy and jubilation stillness in the soul.“
Another great mystery of the recipe is the Teriaca opobalsamo (xilobalsamo, carpobalsamo). The opobalsamo or Balsamo Oriental was described as virtuous and sublime ingredient by leading simplistic as Dioscorides, Pliny and Prospero Alpino17. Around this precious element developed fantasies and legends never really define which of balms natural or man really was the opobalsamo.
Many believed that the drug was formed from rubber collection, engraving of the cortex, from the sole of balsam, the other product that was obtained by decoction of the twigs of a plant that is born and grows in Peru (Balsam of Peru).
The opobalsamo used in the recipe has Teriaca eastern origin as claimed by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Donzelli Maranta and that, in their respective works, overdo themselves with very detailed historical information on the origin of the ingredient.
It was originally thought that the plant balm grow only in Judea in the Valley of Jericho where the terrain allowed the species to spread „thriving in forests“ and that the Egyptian was instead the result of the transplant of some of these plants to be transferred to Egypt Mark Antony on the orders of Cleopatra. Even in Egypt the plant balm had optimal growth and it produced so much that it was enough to keep perpetually lit a lamp post in front of „Altar of the Conquerors Sagrofanti Princes of the Apostles in Rome and more in the Lateran Baptistery where burned in a brazier of gold by order of the Great Constantine „. Egyptians, Jews and Syrians used the balm to preserve the bodies of the Kings embalming their dead bodies with a mixture of balsam, myrrh, aloe and croco18. In the Roman Catholic Church use the balm was limited to the mix with the „Oglio received in Confirmation.“
Giorgio Melichio states that opobalsamo, being very rare and precious, was often falsified and that already at the time of Andromachus ingredient was hardly findable and was replaced with nutmeg oil that resembled much to smell and taste.
The opobalsamo had remarkable therapeutic properties and was also used as a single simple in many alessifarmaci19.
The xilobalsamo and carpobalsamo were respectively wood dellla plant balm and the fruit of the same plant.
Recipe and Formula for Theriaca Andromachi
Ingredients for Andromachus theriac:
Hedichroi Radicum gentianae
Piperis longi Chamaepythios
Opii Coma Hyperici
Iridis florentia Seminum ameos
Rosarum rubrarum Malabathri
Succi glycyrrhisa Comae polii montani
Seminis buniados (Semi Napo dolce) Chamoedryos
Opobalzami vel succedanei olei nucis moschatae Succi hypocistidis
Cinnamomi Gummi arabici
Agarici Styracis calamitae
Nardi indicae Terra lemniae
Dictamni cretici Chacitidis veri
Prassi albi Radicis aristolochia tenuis
Stoechadis arabica Comae centaurii minoris
Schananthi Seminis dauci cretici
Seminis petroselini macedonici Opopanacis
Calamintae montana Galbani puri
Cassia lignea Bituminis judaici
nigri Mellis optimi despumati & cocti
Myrrha trogloditicae Vini generosi
Other electuaries teriacali – Other recipe for Theriac
The Teriaca Andromachus was not the only one in the history of pharmacy, but certainly the most complex to prepare. The Quercetano lists, in Cap.XXIII of his Reformed Pharmacopoeia (1655), six Teriache that in ancient times were prepared by the greatest doctors and spezieri both Arab and Latin and between these cites to Oribasius of Democrato, Ezra, of Diatessaron, peony, Terra sealed. He invented the treacle of the poor who owned a number of ingredients much less than the original and most did not contain meat viper.
The impulse that led him to seek new spezieri recipes for electuary prince was the belief that the assembly of a large number of simple virtues could not give more specific diseases, but also weaken the beneficial action of the components „taking off space the one with the other. „Nicolo Lemery chemical and farmacopeo of French King Louis XIV in his „Pharmacopée Universelle“ of 1698 shows a recipe Teriaca reformed where it appears a number of simple greatly reduced and some components completely eliminated (Trocisci Hedicroi). The chemist says theriac thus prepared has the same virtues of the original and acts with greater force.
Next cites Teriaca of Diatessaron confirming be theriac the poor. The word means diatessaron composed of four dragme wanting to emphasize that it was in a short time that is extemporaneously.
In between the different pharmacopoeias teriache is also quoted an antidote called Orvieto considered a powerful remedy against the plague, malignant fevers and acute, the bite of venomous beasts, petechiae of smallpox and measles. The name of Orvieto seems to derive from the inventor who came from Orvieto.
Gio Battista Capello, apothecary banner of ‘Tre Monti in Campo S.Apollinare in Venice, in his Lexicon Pharmaceutical-Chemical (1751), gives a recipe of Orvieto called Charas and asserts that the antidote does not have properties like vomitive touted by quacks and „people of that sort,“ but it should be considered „for the real famous Orvieto„. Quacks asserted that the poisons had to be removed from the body by vomiting so their remedies added colcotar of vitriol (iron sulfate) or glass of antimony (antimony oxysulfide) whose properties were known vomitive.
The ultimate antidote to mention among electuaries teriacali remains the Mitridato used by the great King Mithridates VI Eupator. The recipe for the antidote, according to Bartolomeo Maranta, is transcribed, in verse iambici from Damocrate, and preparations made in the spices of Naples included in the number and amount of the ingredients listed in the poem.
Actually preparation Mitridato has always suffered a wide variation and the antidote was never composed with the same ingredients and in the same proportions.
This variability was „deplorable disgrace“ the antidote that had thousands of times allowed the King of Pontus to experiment with the „wonders“.
According to Galen the Mitridato was more effective than Teriaca.
Article originally published on NCF – Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin (No.2 / 1997 and 3/1997), published by Editorial Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., Via Ausonio 12, Milan, Italy Dr Marcello Fumagalli