Medicine from the Essence of Spruce

[ Medicine from the Essence of Spruce ] Captain Ball

Contributor Role
Contributor Name
Captain Ball
Contributor Role
Contributor Name
Mr. Bean, Purser of the Ship Argonaut

Date: 1797/02/07

Publication Format


food poisoning

spruce essence

Nova Scotia

Source: Royal Gazette and the Nova Scotia Advertiser.
Institution: Nova Scotia Archives | Source Origin: Nova Scotia Newspapers on Microfilm | Reference: Consult the Nova Scotia Archives' "Nova Scotia Newspapers on Microfilm" list (Royal Gazette) for a complete account of microfilm reels for this paper. EMMR includes recipes from Microfilm Reels 8162, 8163, 8165, and 8167.


Extracts from letters by two naval officers describing the successful use of spruce essence as a remedy for food poisoning and fever. Vol. 8 No. 445, Microfilm Reel 8167.


                         HALIFAX, Jan. 26.
              Extract from Capt. Ball’s Letter.
  “A greater proportion of Officers both in the army
and navy have died than privates, or sailors, which I
ascribe to their eating too much putrescent food. The
Physician General told me last week that this fever had
baffled the skill of all the faculty, both English and
French; but a master of transport had found out a me-
dicine in the Essence of Spruce which had cured a great
many people. It has succeeded with all men lately at-
tacked: and it is equally well spoken of in the other
ships. We only began trying it for three days before
we failed. The proportion is three table spoonfulls of
Essence to a quart of warm water; When cool it maybe
taken in small tumblers, one every half hour or an hours in-
terval; less maydo for a week constitution. Three tum-
lers have proved a cure. It some times acts as purgative, 
with some people it has not any sensible effect but the
symptoms gradually going away. I had caught the fe-
ver, and of taking three tumblers of this medicine the
symptoms went away without any sensible operation.”
    I have frequently felt the putrid Effluvium in my
throat, which causes this melancholy fever soon after I
inhaled it, which got of by washing my mouth, and
drinking plentifully of light liquors. It has the taste
of Tobacco

Extract of a letter from Mr. M. Bean, Purser of His
                   Majesty’s Ship Argonaut.
   “Emetics and bleeding have been in general unsuc-
c[e]ssful. The former weakens the stomach so much 
that it refuses to retain any thing afterwards, and blee-
ding rather accelerates the progress of the disease. We
have lately found that the Essence of spruce has been
efficacious and has relieved several in the course of four
or five hours. 
    The mixture is three table spoonfulls of Essence dis-
solved in a quart bottle of hot water, and taken cold
about a tumbler full every hour till three tumblers have
been taken, keeping the patient in open air and walk-
ing if he is able; but when the fever is entirely gone 
off the patient may go below. When the spruce begins
to purge which it general does more or less, the taking
should be discontinued.