Turpentine. A concrete oleo-resin obtained from Pinus palustris Miller, and from other species of Pinus (Nat. Ord. Coniferae).

Oleum Terebinthinae

Oil of turpentine. A volatile oil distilled from turpentine. (IT. S. P.) Essence de térébinthine, Fr.; Terpentinol, Ger. Dose, τη v— oz ss.

Linimentum Terebinthinae

Liniment of turpentine. (Resin cerate, sixty-five parts; oil of turpentine, thirty-five parts.)

Oleum Terebinthinae Rectificatum

Rectified oil of turpentine. Dose, τη j—τη xxx. This should be dispensed on prescription.

Antagonists and Incompatibles

All remedies increasing waste, and the vaso-motor depressants, counterbalance the therapeutical actions of turpentine. In cases of poisoning the stomach should be promptly emptied, and anodynes and demulcents should be administered. Elimination should be favored, and the toxic symptoms treated according to the systemic indications. Ozonized oil of turpentine is an antidote to phosphorus, preventing the formation of phosphoric acid and converting the poison into an insoluble spermaceti-like substance. Turpentine worn in a vial about the neck prevents necrosis of the jaw and steatosis of organs in workmen engaged in manufactures employing phosphorus.


The diffusible and alcoholic stimulants favor the action of turpentine.

Physiological Actions

Turpentine-oil is a limpid, colorless fluid, having a strong, peculiar, and diffusive odor, and a hot and pungent taste. It is very slightly soluble in water. The oil exposed to the air absorbs oxygen (ozone), which it retains with great tenacity. Applied to the skin, turpentine causes heat, redness followed by a vesicular eruption, and sometimes by intractable ulcerations. A few drops produce a sense of heat at the epigastrium, and a large dose (medicinal) causes intense burning pain, nausea, eructations of the oil, intestinal irritation and purging (usually). Notwithstanding its slight solubility in water, turpentine diffuses into the blood with facility, and is quickly recognized in the breath, sweat, and urine. The action of the heart and arteries is increased by it, the arterial tension rises, and a general sense of warmth and exhilaration is experienced. In large doses (one or two ounces) vomiting, thirst, and a febrile state, are induced; the muscular strength is diminished, the power of co-ordination is impaired; exhilaration of mind, incoherence of ideas, and rambling insensibility, follow. In toxic doses there are complete muscular relaxation and profound insensibility with abolition of all reflex movements; the face is flushed or cyanosed, the pupils usually dilated, and the breathing labored and stertorous. All the organs by which turpentine is eliminated, especially the kidneys, suffer from extreme irritation when large doses have been swallowed. The skin is usually moist, and exhales a turpentine-odor; the bronchial secretion is increased, and convulsive coughing is induced; the urine is scanty and bloody, and there is violent strangury. The only fatal cases which have been reported have occurred in children (Taylor). From four to six ounces have not destroyed life in adults.

As regards its action on the organs of circulation, the author's experiments show that turpentine stimulates the vaso-motor nervous system when administered in moderate doses. A large quantity quickly exhausts the irritability of the sympathetic ganglia, the action of the heart becomes weak, and the arterial tension falls; the respiratory movements are at first stimulated, but afterward become shallow, and carbonic-acid poisoning supervenes. The brains of animals killed by turpentine smell strongly of it, and hence it may be concluded that it has a direct action on the cells of the cerebral lobes.

Turpentine has decided antiseptic power. It arrests fermentation processes, putrefaction, and is very destructive of minute organisms (vibrio, bacteria, etc.).

The vapor of turpentine inhaled produces nasal and bronchial irritation, frontal headache, and renal irritation, even bloody urine and strangury.

On post mortem after turpentine-poisoning, violent gastro-intestinal irritation, ecchymoses of the air-passages, congestion of the lungs, and hyperaemia of the kidneys, are noted.