Amber Healing Properties: Best of Amber Through Years

Amber has been known for centuries for its healing properties – it was used for skin treatment, teeth strengthening, headache relief, elimination of seizures, asthma attack relief and many others. It was taken as the powder or infusion, worn as an amulet, rubbed into the skin in the form of ointments, injected by enemas, or inhaled as a cleansing aroma. Greeks used amber to treat patients from almost all known diseases. The smoke from the burning amber revealed its hemostatic and anti-tuberculosis effects. Amber healing properties were noticed among the parishioners in churches where amber was used as incense, asthma, coughs, colds disappeared.

Hippocrates (430-377 BC), on of the most famous physicians of antiquity, was the first to mention the healing properties of amber in his notes. The most complete and systematic approach in describing amber healing effects was given by Pliny the Elder (23-79AD). In his “The natural History of Precious Stones” he combined and systemized the information acquired from over 30 sources. Natural amber had been scrupulously studied by many other prominent scientists and researches including Claudius Galen, the famous Roman doctor and naturalist; central Asian scientist-encyclopedist Biruni. A fairy high level of knowledge of amber healing properties existed in countries of the Arab East and Central Asia where they were described in detailed by Al-Razi and Abu Ali Ibn-Sina. Ibn-Sina did not only substantiated the reasons for grinding amber for medical purposes, but also provided numerous recipes for using amber for various diseases in his famous work “The Canon of Medicine”.

Amber Healing Properties - Abu Ali Ibn-Sina
Amber Healing Properties - Hyppocrates
Amber Healing Properties - Pliny the Elder

One of the first detailed descriptions of extracting succinic acid from amber and the way of using it for medical purposes was done by V.B.Hakobyan in the ancient Armenian medical treatise of 1492. From the XVI century we can observe multiple references of amber and its medical effects. Andreas Aurifaber in his “Succini Historia” work published in 1551, gives 46 recipes for the use of amber in medicine, partly borrowed from ancient authors, partly apparently, his own. Amber was widely used as a remedy throughout Europe.

XVII-XVIII is considered the triumph of natural amber medicine. During this period, a significant number of dissertations appeared on the study of the physical and healing properties of amber. Amber compositions were made in pharmacies in the form of lotions, potions, and ointments. Amber “heals, dries, and dissolves; strengthens the heart and brain, revives animal and vital substance to life with the assistance of its sweet sulfur; it is used in aromatic incense to improve bad air and ward off infections”. In most countries has retained its place in the medical arsenal of doctors and pharmacies. In those times, amber started to be used in manufacturing of medical products. Transparent pale pieces of amber were used to make amber optics. For the first time, magnifying glasses, loupes and glasses from amber were made in 1691 by the famous master od that time – Christian Porshin, who knew a secret of the complete discoloration of the yellow transparent amber.

Since the end of the XVIII century, because of the development of pharmacy, synthetic medicines started gradually replacing traditional methods of treatment with herbs, honey, clay, leeches and amber was also left aside. The last nail in the coffin was that amber was believed to have various magical properties. Therefore, it was easily although undeservedly included in the list of unscientific means. Then, the study of amber continued only with the aim of elucidating its new physicochemical properties, as well as for the industrial production of amber oil, varnish, rosin, succinic acid, which were partially used for medical purposes. In the publication “Pharmacology of the United States” dated 1898 it was recommended to take the purified amber oil orally for spasms and externally of rheumatism. Amber oil, obtained during distillation process, was considered a potent component for the preparation of various grinding.

It is worth noting that in those years, in China a balm made from succinic acid and opium was used as a sedative. Amber oil with ammonia was widely used for fainting. Amber was appreciated thanks to a drink called “lammer-vine”, which was a concentrate of unknown composition in which amber was dissolved. The drink was considered the elixir of immortality.

In Poland, amber tincture is still considered an excellent remedy for colds, throat and respiratory tract diseases. Amber powder is sniffed like tobacco for acute respiratory infections, and an amber necklace is worn to protect against goiter.

Since the end of the XIX century as amber has disinfecting purposes, it started to be used to manufacture smoking accessories like mouthpieces for pipes and cigarettes. In the XX century clear transparent pressed amber was used in Germany to make special medical glassware. The negligible wettability of the amber and its ability to prevent hemolysis – the process of red blood cells destruction – made it possible to make various items for blood transfusion from amber as well as dishes for conservation.

The second half of the XX century is characterized by an increased interest in physicochemical properties and composition study of amber. As up to 90% of the world’s amber reserves are located in Kaliningrad region, amber factory was opened there and the production of amber oil, varnish, succinic acid and its derivatives was turned to the industrial basis. Various medicines based on the produced material found their application in medicine: vitamin D3, cortisone acetate, mercury succinic acid, iodol antiseptic, sucsilen, succimer, predion etc.

In other countries, homeopaths use natural amber and based on succinic acid and amber oil, substances that make up toothpaste, soap, and creams were produced. The greatest interest for the last 30 years has been paid to the study of the mechanisms of medical properties of succinic acid and its derivatives and the way they work.

Bonus:

Amber Tincture Recipe:

The Arabs and Chinese appreciated this medicine for the fact that it gives long life, increases strength, relieves fatigue, and treats stomach and intestines.

To make this Amber tincture you will need a dark glass bottle, 15 or more pieces of unprocessed amber per 0.5L of water. Place amber pieces into the bottle and add water, close the bottle with the cork. Keep it in a dark cool place for a month.

Take one dessert spoon before food.

Consult your doctor before taking.

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