Aqua omnium florum

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A cow pat.

Aqua omnium florum or all-flower water was water distilled from cow-dung in May, when the cows ate fresh grass with meadow flowers. It was also known less euphemistically as aqua stercoris vaccini stillatitia (distilled water of cow dung).[1] This was used as a medicine to treat a variety of ailments including gout, rheumatism and tuberculosis.[2][3]

The 17th century court physician George Bate favoured it and it appeared in the Pharmacopœia BateanaBate's Dispensatory.[4] Recipes included:[2]

cow dung, gathered in May, adding to it a third of white wine and then distilled

fresh cow-dung and snails with their shells bruised equal parts, mix and distill in a common still

℞ Fresh cow dung gathered in the morning; spring or rain water; mix and digest twenty-four hours, let it settle, and then decant the clear brown tincture.

The latter prescription was used as a panacea by a female doctor in Bate's time. Many incurable cases were brought to her which she treated in this way and she made a great fortune of £20,000 from this practice.[2]

Urina vaccina[edit]

Cow tea or urina vaccina (cow's urine) was sometimes called aqua omnium florum too.[1] This was used as a purgative for which the dosage would be "half a pint drank warm from the cow".[5] It was drunk by women in May to clear their complexion.[1]

Indian traditional medicine[edit]

Cow dung, urine and other bovine products are still used extensively in the traditional Hindu medicine, Ayurveda.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Charles Alston (1770), Lectures on the Materia Medica, Vol. 2 (Lecture 82), Edward Dilly, p. 551
  2. ^ a b c T. Laycock (1858), "On the New Pharmacopœia", The Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, Vol. XVIII: 312–313
  3. ^ Samuel Frederick Gray (1821), A Supplement to the Pharmacopœia, Thomas and George Underwood, p. 310
  4. ^ Saint Bartholomew's Hospital Reports, 1884, p. 299
  5. ^ Samuel Frederick Gray (1836), "Animal Secretions and Excretions", A Supplement to the Pharmacopœia and Treatise on Pharmacology in General (6th ed.), Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, p. 179
  6. ^ Rahul Bedi (16 Mar 2005), "Cow dung becomes a cure-all in India", Daily Telegraph