A New Poor Man’s Friend Ointment Recipe

Here’s a fun bit of a recipe I just recently dug up called Poor Man’s Friend ointment. It’s merits are interesting to say the least.

About the Original Ointment

According to John Ezard’s article in The Guardian , “The Poor Man’s Friend, which was sold all over the world as a miracle cure for aches and pains for more than 200 years, gave up its secrets yesterday (August 6, 2003) when its recipe was disclosed.

It turns out to have been 95% lard and beeswax. It has been long been suspected in modern medical circles to be “largely made of lard and sulphur”.

A leading London dermatologist last night gave a clean bill of health to Giles Roberts’ quack ointment, concocted in Dorset in the 1790s.

Dr Frances Lawlor said it would do “quite a lot of good” if tried today – although she would not immediately want to rub it into her own skin.

The Poor Man’s Friend was sold in little jars. But a recipe for making a vat of it has been found among Roberts family papers by relatives of the pharmacist who bought the inventor’s shop in East Street, Bridport, in the 1970s.

The recipe and other documents are expected to fetch up to £6,000 when put up for sale by the Dorchester auctioneer Duke’s on August 15.

Roberts opened the shop as an unqualified doctor in 1788 but was licensed after studying medicine at London hospitals. Among his patent medicines was one labelled ‘Anti-Venereal Specific Drops’.

But his star product was the Poor Man’s Friend, advertised as a miracle cure for “headache, bruises, gout, etc.” In 1797, Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary degree. His customers were grateful enough for his gravestone to be inscribed “His Memory is Cherished Especially by the Poor with Grateful Feelings.”

One correspondent wrote in 1966 after hearing of the product’s demise: “This is sad news as over the years my wife and I have found this ointment to be quite remarkable in curing odd skin complaints including eczema in our dogs’ ears.”

Now here is why the ointment worked so well. The 5% that was not lard and wax was made up of interesting things indeed; 22 oz. Calamel, 1.5 oz. red powder (comprised of venetian red, vermillion, oxide of bismuth, and oxide of zinc), 11 oz. sugar of lead, 10 oz. red precipitate, 6.5 oz. rose essential oil, 1 oz. bergamot essential oil and .5 oz. lavender oil.

Poor Man’s Friend Ointment Recipe:

Simply dilute in 15 drops of your favorite carrier oil and you have one fantastic “cure-all” ointment. Rose oil is incredibly complex and is known to be anti-inflammatory, a relaxant, reduces scarring and has an anti-ulcer property. Bergamot oil is calming, lends hormonal support, is anti-bacterial and antidepressant. Lavender oil is antiseptic, antifungal, analgesic, antitumoral, anticonvulsant, vasodilating, relaxant, anti-inflammatory, reduces blood fat/cholesterol, and combats excess sebum on skin. Combine them into a synergistic blend and you have a power-packed oil for sure.

I do not recommend using calamel(calomel (mercurous chloride)) but you could throw in some zinc oxide (deodorizer and antibacterial action). In my thinking, though, that would ruin the effect.

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