Albarello drug jar for 'the Blessed Laxative', Italy, 1601-1700
The inscription tells us much about the contents of the jar. Benedicta lar is a shortened version of Benedicta Laxativa – “the Blessed Laxative”. This preparation was so called to avoid confusion with similar but less valuable preparations. Made from a mixture of crushed seeds, plants, sugar and honey, the laxative was used to loosen and purge phlegm from the body. It was believed an excessive amount of cold phlegm, one of the four humours, caused trouble with the joints, such as arthritis and gout.
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The fluids of the body whose balance is essential to well-being. They are blood, choler (yellow bile), phlegm, and melancholy (black bile). The system of the humours was closely related to the theory of the elements by the Ancient Greeks (especially Hippocrates), who were the first society to widely embrace the theory and apply it to medical practice. In Ancient Roman culture, the theory of the humours was embraced by Galen. During the neo-classical revival in western culture, the theory of the humours was a dominant form of medical practice. Its legacy in the form of activities such as blood-letting continued in England into the eighteenth century.
The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.
A form of jar, typically from Medieval Spain, used for storing drugs. The word ‘albarello’ is of Spanish origin but historians appear divided over whether or not the design of the jar originated in Spain, Morocco or China. The shape of the waisted jar is distinctive.
Mucus produced by the respiratory system, and expelled by coughing. Healthy phlegm is normally clear and white.