Friday, 21 February 2014

Poland's universal panacea

One of the things that puzzled me moving to Poland 17 years ago was the entirely different composition of the typical home first-aid cabinet. Conspicuous by their absence in Polish medicine chests are disinfectants such as TCP, Dettol, Savlon or Germolene. None of these British household-name products are seen stocking the parapharmaceutical shelves of hypermarkets or pharmacies in Poland.

Instead, the medicinal compound most efficacious in every case here is Amol - and it is just as unknown in the UK as TCP is in Poland. But so much more pleasant than TCP - in smell as well as taste. Rather than the phenolic stench of TCP, Amol possesses a fresh, mentholated scent; it contains cinnamon, peppermint, clove, citronella, melissa and lemon oil mixed with 67% alcohol.

The German term for Amol is Heilkräutergeist or spirit of medicinal herbs; it is meant to have been devised by Carmelite monks centuries ago - indeed some tell of it being used on the Crusades.

Amol cures everything from colds, headaches, muscle pains, insect bites, bloating and dyspepsia. And online, you'll find that it can be used to cure dozens of other maladies. Every babcia swears by it - Amol is the nearest thing you can get to a universal panacea.

I use it in the sauna; 15 to 20 drops onto the heated rocks; each one sizzles on contact evaporating instantly. Breathing in the vapour is very pleasant as it penetrates your respiratory system.

After 17 years, I too have ceased to see the sense of TCP and prefer Amol for all petty ailments. Interestingly enough, this medicinal compound of German origin is now manufactured by a Japanese pharmaceutical company in Poland - Takeda Pharma (which acquired the previous manufacturer, Nycomed). Worth taking a look at the website, which has some amusing ads in English, German and Polish going back to 1907.

Above: by appointment to His Holiness, Pope Pius X. Pre-WWI ad (Pius X died in 1914, the price is quoted in pfennigs) Then as now, universal panaceas have always sold well. Priced at 29.95 złotys for a 250ml bottle.

This time last year:
Of taxis, deflation, crisis and strikes

This time two years ago:
Lent starts again

This time three years ago:
Art Quiz

This time four years ago:
A month before Spring Equinox

This time five years ago:
The beauty of winter
[some of my finest winter photos]


Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly. It was out with the TCP and in with the Amol long ago. It is a better advert for Polish tastes than Prince Polo. Who needs synthetic "room fresheners" when there is Amol? It seems to reduce snoring too!

AndrzejK said...

Nothing wrong with TCP, Dettol or Izal toilet paper. An empire was built on less..........

Oh and Victory V throat lozenges.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Just brought a bottle of Dettol back from the UK and I had a bottle of Amol in the cupboard all the time!

I've only ever used it for mozzie bites but I shall revise my attitude for the future.

Unknown said...

After extensive study of herbal medicine and remedies, I came across Amol and realized it contained everything except tumeric that I would normally grow or purchase to treat common ailments. My Polish grandma probably had some if I would have asked. She raised five children during the depression on this stuff.