Simple Oils are oils of a single medicine. In some cases they are infused for a week or a month in a vessel left in the sun, this being done with flowers. Usually, however, herbs are decocted in the oil until the herbs become crispy. Sometimes a little wine is added and the herbs are boiled until the wine has evaporated.
i. Simple Oils of Herbs
Oil of Camomile
‘Take a sufficient amount of Camomile flowers, put them in a pot, and pour on enough Olive Oil to cover it well, cover, then sit in the Sun or some warm place for 14 days; then boil it briefly in a double boiler, strain, add fresh Camomile, repeat, then repeat a third time with new flowers, wringing out well after the end of each boiling. Keep for use’.
Oil of Camomile is good for many things, and was very commonly used.
It clears Heat, settles Inflammation, and relieves pain and is good for the Sinews, and all Joint pains. Applied to sore and aching Muscles, Tendons, Bones and Joints. It eases Cramps, and Weariness of the Limbs.
It opens the pores, and promote Sweat when applied warm and left to sweat in bed.
A useful soothing anti-inflammatory application to Varicose Veins, Hemorrhoids.
It also allays the pains of the Liver and Abdomen, applied warm.
Some applied it to Bruises and Trauma.
This oil may also be used in Enemas for Colic and Stones. (Wirtzung, Cooke)
After the same manner may be made the infused oils of other herbs like Mint, Rue, Sage, Dill, Violet, Jasmine flowers etc.
Oil of Datura
Fresh leaves of Datura 1 lb.
Olive Oil 2½ lbs.
Bruise the leaves and boil them to the consumption of the juice which is when the leaves are crisp. Press it out and add half a pound of fresh leaves again, steep for 14 days, then again boil to the consumption of the juice, press, and keep.
‘It quickly heals, even to a miracle all Inflammations, and all sorts of Burnings, whether by Fire, or boiling Water, melted Lead, Gun Powder, or by Lightning’. (Bates)
If the skin is not broken, it is applied often to the place. If the skin is broken, it is best applied as a plaster, and bind it up until ‘the fire is drawn out’. (Salmon)
Oil of Datura is also excellent for all types of heat and inflammation, especially when associated with Pain. It is beneficially applied to pains of the muscles and joints. It is a good application to Abscesses, Boils and Painful Hemorrhoids. It was also applied to the pain of Tumors, Swellings and Cancers, including those of the Breast. Some claimed it useful as an application to Eczema.
In Unani, that prepared with Sesame oil is still highly regarded for Paralysis, Facial Paralysis and Gout.
In India, an oil prepared from the seeds in Coconut oil is applied to Alopecia, and an oil prepared from the fresh juice boiled in Sesame oil is dropped into the ear for Earache.
Oil of Dill
It is made as Oil of Camomile
Steep them together in a sealed vessel in the Sun or some other warmth for 1 week. Strain, and repeat with fresh herb and flowers twice more.
Use: It is good to anoint on the body, then keep warm under a blanket to promote sweat. It is also good to anoint over the spine in Fevers and Headache.
It clears Wind and Cold, eases Pain, promotes Sleep and Rest, opens the skin Pores, and resolves all hard Swellings when applied warm and regularly.
It also removes Lassitude and helps in Lethargy.
Very good for Cramps, Convulsions and to ease pain of the Head, Nerves and Joints.
It ‘mitigates pain, procures Sleep, brings raw and unconcocted Humors to perfect digestion, and provokes bodily Lust’. (Gerard, Salmon, Wirtzung)
Oil of Elder Flowers
Made as Oil of Camomile
It ease Pain, cleanses, and is very good for Yellow Jaundice, and various Diseases of the Liver, including Obstructions of it.
It is also a good application for all pains of the Joints.
In addition, it may be applied to skin conditions including Rashes, Erysipelas, and Burns, and was dropped into the ears for Earache. (Wirtzung)
Some prepared an Oil of Elder Berries, preparing it similarly to the Oil of Myrtle Berries.
Elecampane roots bruised
juice of Elecampane 1 part ea.
White Wine ½ part
Boil in a B.M. until the wine has been consumed.
Used for all types of pain of the Muscles, Tendons and Joints coming from coldness and damp. It tightens loose Sinews and Ligaments and strengthens the Back and Joints when applied warm on a regular basis.
It is also an admirable application to Itchy, Scaly and Eruptive skin diseases including Eczema, Psoriasis, Herpes, and ‘Manginess of the Skin’.
Oil of Orris
Root of Florentine Iris 1 lb.
Purple Iris flowers ½ lb
Olive Oil 6 lbs.
Some stood the Root and Flowers with the Olive oil in a closed pot and placed the pot in hot embers for 24 hours before gently boiling for another 2 hours in B.M. Press it out strongly, and add new root and flowers twice more.
Some simply boiled all these in a B.M. with a sufficient amount of the decoction of Orris root, adding fresh Roots and Flowers twice more, as in the making of other oils. But as Charras noted, it is unnecessary to add the decoction because it will hardly give anything to the oil, and the first preparation (above) will convey all the desired qualities adequately.
It heats, mollifies, attenuates, digests, penetrates, opens, dissolves, and ripens Phlegm. It is good to penetrate and ripen congealed matter in any part of the body.
It discusses swollen Lymph nodes, Scrofula's, and hardness and swelling of the Liver or Spleen, and all hard Tumors.
It is a good application to sore, stiff and swollen joints, and for Cramps.
Applied to the chest and upper back, it eases Cough and stops Asthma.
When applied to the lower abdomen, it eases the pain of Colic. Also used in Enemas for Colic and pain of the Bowels.
Taken internally (2–3 oz.) for Edema, and for the Poison of Hemlock.
It relieves Earache, Tinnitus, and stinking of the Nostrils when applied.
Oil of Jasmine
It is made of Jasmine flowers in the same manner as Oil of Camomile
It is warm, eases pain, opens all types of obstructions, and is very digesting and resolving.
It was applied to the lower abdomen for pain of the Uterus, and was also applied to the stomach of infants for stomach-aches.
Oil of Marjoram
It is made as Oil of Camomile
It moves the Blood and Qi, clears Wind and Damp, and eases Pain.
It warms, opens, clears obstructions, especially of the Head and Nerves. Good for Headaches, Nerve and Joint Pain etc.
Oil of Mastic
Mastic 6 oz.
Oil of Roses 2 lbs.
Strong Wine 2 oz.
Put the powdered Mastic into an earthen pot, cover with the oil and wine, seal the pot, and put into a B.M., keeping it there until it has dissolved. Strain through cloth, allow to settle, and keep. Some used only half the amount of Mastic.
It strengthens the Head, Brain, Nerves, and Joints. It is good for weakness of the Stomach, and to stop Vomiting.
It is especially useful for Diarrhea (especially the type called Lientery), and for Dysentery; for these problems, it is applied to the Stomach and Abdomen. It was also given in Enemas (from 1–2 oz.) for these types of disorder.
Also good to strengthen the Liver, and to ease pains and hardness of it when applied. It so mollifies all hard Tumors, and is good to ease Pains.
Oil of Myrtle
Two different preparations of Oil of Myrtle are prepared; one of the leaf and one of the berry.
Oil of Myrtle leaves:
Leaves of Green Myrtle 5 oz.
Oil of Unripe Olives 1 lb.
Mingle them and steep 8 days, then boil in B.M., strain add fresh leaves twice more, repeating the same operation.
Oil of Myrtle Berries:
Myrtle berries 1 lb.
Oil of Unripe Olives 2½ lbs.
Decoction of the Leaf
and/or Berries of Myrtle 7 oz.
Macerate and boil until the water is consumed; strain, add new berries twice more, each time boiling them until they become soft.
When Myrtle Oil was requested, generally the Myrtle-leaf Oil was being referred to, although the Berry oil was generally regarded as best.
They are both used similarly, good to cool, condense, astringe, being good for the Head, Brain and Stomach.
They firm loose members, and may therefore be applied after a Dislocation has been reset, or to laxity of the Joints.
Applied warm to Lumps and Tumors, and is a good external application as an adjunct in the long-term treatment of Cancers.
Applied to the scalp, Myrtle Berry oil helps retain Hair, and stops falling of the Hair (especially if the scalp be rubbed with a cut Onion beforehand).
Also good for the Teeth and Gums, to bind loose Teeth, and firm up the Gums.
Oil of Poppies
Made of the Flowers, Heads and Leaves of the garden Poppies and Oil Omphacine, after the same manner as that of Dill.
It is Anodyne, causes ease and rest, and promotes sleep.
It allays all inflammations, and was much used for Gout, Pleurisy and other Inflammations. It may be applied warm or cool, and may be soaked on rags to apply topically for extended periods.
Oil of Quinces
Take Quinces that are not quite ripe and cut into pieces
with their skin, removing the seeds. Take Quince juice,
equal in amount to the Quinces, and Olive Oil, equal in
amount to the juice. Put them into a closed vessel, and
set it in the Sun for 15 days. Next boil it for 3 hours in a
water bath, then strain it, and press it out hard. This
infusion is repeated 2 or 3 more times with fresh Quinces.
This is very good for a cold and weak Stomach. It strengthens the Digestive Virtue and promotes good digestion when massaged regularly over the Stomach.
A good external astringent for all types of hot leakages for which it is massaged into the lower abdomen.
It is also good for diseases of looseness or laxness of the Tendons and Ligaments when massaged over the Joint topically.
It was also applied to stop excessive Sweating.
Oil of Roses
Red Roses, bruised 4 oz.
Olive Oil, washed several
times with water 1 lb.
Put them in a close stopped glass, and set in the hot Sun for a week, shaking daily; then boil them gently in a bath (double boiler); repeat this 3 times with fresh flowers, only the last time infuse in the sun for 40 days, then keep the Oil and Roses together without expression.
In India and Unani, Sesame oil is used as the base.
Cools hot swellings and Inflammations, and eases pain coming from heat; it Cools the Head and Stomach. It also binds and dries sores, and clears Erysipelas.
Various authors suggested applying Oil of Roses topically in the long-term treatment of Tumors and Cancers while simultaneously using internal medicines. This is to help cool the inflammation and to soften and mollify the area to help the internal medicine penetrate.
Oil of Roses was most commonly used in the preparation of numerous external compounds including Compound Oils, Ointments, and Plasters. It was also often used in preparations of Colocynth to mollify its harshness.
In modern Unani medicine, it is applied to the Head for Headache and for the early stages of Meningitis, as a Brain and Nerve tonic, and to ease Hot-type pain.
Oil of Rue
It is made as Oil of Camomile
It is Warm, opens, clears Obstructions, attenuates, digests, warms the Kidneys and Womb, and can be anointed on the Belly for cold pain of the Stomach, Abdomen or Womb; it was also used in Enemas.
Some were more enthusiastic, saying it is good for all pain coming from Cold. It clears Cold from the Muscles and Sinews, and is therefore good for Cramp and Pain of them. It is a very good application to Arthritis, Rheumatism and Sciatica.
Some applied Oil of Rue to Warts and skin growths. It may be dropped into the Ears for Earache. Applied to the temples and sutures of the skull for Headache, Vertigo and Lethargy.
Oil of St. Johns wort
Tops of St. John’s Wort 2 lbs.
Olive Oil 4 lbs.
White Wine ½ lb.
Beat the St. John’s Wort, put it in an earthen pot, cover with the Oil and Wine, and cover the pot. Steep for 3 days in a warm place (ie. in the Sun), or in hot embers for 24 hours. Then press them out, and repeat the infusion a second time with fresh St. John’s Wort. Then boil until the wine is consumed, press again, add Turpentine, 2 lbs. oz., and Saffron 3 scruples. Boil a little and Keep.
This Oil is warm and dry, attenuates, dissipates, and has a mild astringent quality; it is therefore good for all wounds, especially wounds of the Sinews.
This Oil was traditionally used for Wounds, Sores, Bruises, and some skin disorders including Eczema and Psoriasis. Also used for Gangrene and skin Cancers, especially Basal Cell Carcinoma. Also useful for Scalds and Burns.
It is also good for all types of pains that come from Cold, especially all pains of the Joints, Sciatica, and pains of the Hips, and was also much applied hot to Gout pains. In addition, it is beneficial in Toothache.
Applied to all Spasms, Cramps and Convulsions.
Anointed on the bladder, it expels Urine. Anointed on the lower abdomen and taken either orally or via Enema, it was used for Worms. It was used in Enemas for various other disorders too.
It has also been used internally as a Folk medicine in Germany to prevent blockage of the Gall Bladder and Bile ducts and to help remove Gall stones.
Oil of Storax
Sweet White Wine 1 part each
Ripe Oil 4 parts
Boil gently in B.M. until the wine has evaporated.
It warms, heals, and mollifies, and removes all cold pains of the Reins, Womb, Spleen, Muscles, Joints and Tendons; it softens the hardness of these parts to a wonder.
It is excellent against all wounds and hurts of the nerves; also very good in curing Scabs if half a part of White Hellebore is added.
Applied topically to Eczema and Scabies and other types of Itching. Also applied to Herpes and Hemorrhoids, and dropped into the ear for Tinnitus.
Oil of Violets
Made as Oil of Camomile
It cools, moistens, softens and mollifies, clears Heat and Inflammations, and in general is used similarly to Oil of Roses. It is especially good for heat of the Kidneys and Lungs, and is good for Bronchitis and Pleurisy.
It allays the heat and pain of Abscesses, Swellings and Tumors and all hot Inflammations. It can be applied with benefit to Cancers, especially of the Breast and fleshy parts. It is also applied to Lymphatic Swellings.
Applied to the pulse in Fevers. It eases all Hot pains, and may be applied to the neck, temples, forehead and sutures of the skull for hot Headaches.
In Unani, it is used for Heat and dryness of the Head, and to promote rest and ease Pain. It is therefore especially regarded for Headaches coming from Heat.
Oil of Wormwood
This is made as the Oil of Camomile, but with half as much Roses added to the Olive Oil.
Fresh Wormwood, bruised 1 lb.
Wormwood juice 4 oz.
Red Roses, dried 2 oz.
Oil 4 lbs.
Bruise the Wormwood well in a mortar, then put it into an earthen pot, along with the juice, Roses, and Oil. Set the closed pot in the sun or some other warm place for 3 days. Then put it in B.M. to boil for half an hour, and strain it out hard. The process can be repeated with fresh Wormwood once or twice more. In Unani, Sesame oil is used.
This is good for the Stomach, promotes Digestion, and strengthens the Appetite. It concocts all crude Humors, removes obstructions, and dissipates Wind.
In Unani, it is most used for Heat and Inflammation of the Stomach and Liver, for which it is applied over the affected organ.
It is very good for all diseases of the Ears.
It opens obstructions of all parts to which it is applied, and relieves pain and inflammation.
Applied to the Navel, it was used to Kill Worms in children.
ii. Oils of Animals
Oil of Ants
Winged Ants 1 oz.
Olive Oil 4 oz.
Set in the Sun in a closed stopped glass for 40 days, then strain.
Another version used 3 drams of the Ants with an ounce each of Oil of Sesame and Oil of Lilies.
‘Anointed on the Region of the Kidneys and Bladder, it provokes Urine; upon the region of the Womb, it provokes the Terms; upon the Belly, it expels wind, and eases the Colic; upon the Privities and Cods, it provokes Lust; upon the Sutures of the Head, and nape of the neck, it helps Lethargies, Dullness, Drowsiness and loss of Memory, as also the Palsy; upon the Joints, the Gout and pains thereof: for the Cholic, you may give it in Clysters’. (Salmon)
Also used for People who blush from Fear, and are ‘hindered from Venery’.
Oil of Earthworms
Earthworms, washed in
white wine 3 oz.
Good White Wine 6 oz.
Olive Oil 12 oz.
Boil in a double boiler until the wine has evaporated; then strain.
Compound versions of this were also made, which may include ingredients such as Myrrh, Frankincense, Saffron etc. depending on the intended use.
This was used since at least the time of Dioscorides.
‘The Oil of Earthworms is especially good for all pain of the joints, and for all frozen sinews’. (Wirtzung)
Used topically for Palsy, Dead Palsy, Cramps, Convulsions, Fractures, all types of pain including wandering pains, as well as for Gravel, Stones and Gout. It is a great Anodyne and was used to strengthen the nerves and joints.
It was dropped into the ear of the opposite side for Toothache, and was also used as a topical application to Gangrene. It is generally best applied warm.
A very good application to such things as dislocations, and the Pain and Inflammation associated with it.
The Oil of Earthworms is also very good for resolving all hardness including that which remains after Trauma, Bruising, resolution of Tumors, and that which typically occurs in the elderly etc.
It is also applied to glandular Tumors, for which it was said to be very good.
In the thirteenth century, Gilbertus Anglicus described a treatment for Wounds of the nerves in which Earthworms, beaten finely and mixed with warm oil were applied. This, he assured us, had restored severed Nerves.
Oil of Foxes
1 Fox (skinned, bowels removed,
cut flesh and break bones)
Spring Water 6 lbs. each
Sea salt 3 oz.
Ground Pine 1 handful ea.
Boil until half is gone, adding the herbs towards the end. Strain, press out the oil, and boil again with Old Oil 6 lbs., Flowers of Sage and Rosemary, 1 handful each. Boil until the water is consumed. Strain it very well, and separate the Oil.
‘It greatly Heats, attenuates, and resolves cold matter, especially in the Brain and Nerves, which it admirably respects and strengthens; hence good in Convulsions, Palsy, Sciatica, all Gouts, and roborates the Joints'. (Cooke)
Oil of Frogs
Frogs 12 in number
Olive Oil 1½ lbs.
Boil them for an hour, then express the Oil out.
‘It cures Redness of the Face and Impetigo, helps Erysipelas, and Gangrene, and is a specific against Cancers’. (Bates)
It is also a good application to Gout, and all hot pains and inflammations. Salmon said it is good for all the above purposes, but said the Oil of Toads is better.
Oil of Pill Millipedes
Made as Oil of Camomile, but only one infusion is required.
Its main use is to be dropped into the ear for Earache.
It is also be applied to Scrofula and Tumors. (Salmon)
Oil of Scorpions
Bitter Almond Oil 2 lbs.
Set in the Sun for 40 days, then strain.
Dose: 5 drops–1 dram, with white wine
This oil is applied over the kidneys to help break Kidney Stones, and also for Anuria. This was occasionally taken internally for Stones, and to promote urine in stoppage of Urine and Strangury.
Applied to Cramps, Joint Pain and Lumbago. This can also be applied to malignant Sores, and to Purpura.
An older version:
‘Put a common Scorpion into 7 1⁄2 oz. of Oil in the Wane of the Moon, and keep it by you, and anoint anyone’s back, and the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet; but you must anoint the back from top to bottom, and the forehead, and the head before the hour of the fit, it will cure a Tertian, a Quartan, and a Quotidian Ague. It also helps Lunatics, and those possessed by the Devil’. (Magic of Kirani, 1685)
There were many compound versions of Oil of Scorpions.
Oil of Toads
Toads 3 or 4
Olive Oil 2 lbs.
Boil them for an hour, or until they fall apart (they may not disintegrate if they are dried). A stronger version boiled 8 Toads in 1⁄2 lb. of Olive oil.
Another version used oil wherein Sage, Sow Thistle, Orris root and Gentian had been decocted. Yet another version boiled Toads in Oil of Sheep’s feet (Neat’s feet oil) wherein Sulphur had been previously boiled.
‘It is good against pustules of the Lips, and Cancers of the Breasts; it is also prevalent against the Dropsy, and provokes Urine, being anointed on the Reins’. (Bates)
Lazarus Riverius said it was ‘very good against all cold Pains, against Scabs, Morphew, and Dropsy; use it hot’.
It was applied to all sorts of eruptions of the skin, such as ‘Boils, Pimples, Carbuncles, Wheals and Morphew etc.’
It was also applied to toxic Swellings, Tumors, Cancer and Gout. That prepared with oil that has had Sulphur boiled in it was also applied to Tumors and Swellings.
Oil of Vipers
Take Snakes or Adders when fat (Summer). Remove
their heads and skin and Gut them. Put them in a
glass gourd, and pour over them well rectified Spirit of
Wine, enough to cover them by 6 finger widths. Seal
the glass well, and set in a Balneum [water bath] until
everything has become an Oil. Keep this Oil in a well
stopped bottle for use.
Excellent for Paralysis, Dead Palsy, Neuralgia, Gout, Arthritis, Rheumatism, when used topically. It is worth noting that American Indians prescribed a Rattlesnake Oil for Rheumatism and Lameness, and the Chinese use Vipers similarly for Numbness, Paralysis, Tremors etc.
It is also a useful application to Itching, Rashes, Tinea, Leukoderma, Inveterate Ulcers, Fistulas, Leprosy, Scrofula, Tumors etc.
A few drops of this oil was dropped warm into the ears of those who were Deaf, or had other ear problems. A German physician used this as his main medicine and was said to have cured some that were born deaf.
Applied to the temples it benefits Eyesight.