Petroleum Jelly Taken Internally?

The pharmacy at our local shopping center has a front window display of some old medicine, including Mercurochrome and an old jar of Petroleum Jelly. The PJ is from a place in Toronto, and the jar and label look really old. One of the things I find fascinating is that the instructions are for both external and internal use (for coughs, sore throats, congestion). Did people really eat this stuff?


Yes, some still do, although the manufacturer of Vaseline labels the packages “for external use only.”

Robert Chesebrough took a spoonful every day–and he lived to be in his 90s.

I know I’ve related this before in some other thread, but my mom (who was born in 1918) told me that she and her high school friends made “diet” mayonnaise using mineral oil. :eek:

and if that isn’t the face of a man with loose stools…

Uh, you’re citing Stephon Marbury? Funny, but proves only that some idiot somewhere will eat petroleum jelly.

There were many weird remedies. I downloaded a candy making book from a hundred years ago. They had tar cough drops in there. Notes in the book says they likely mean pin tar which is something people actualy chewed back then too.

The Candy Maker’s Guide A Collection Of Choice Recipes For Sugar Boiling Compiled And Published By The Fletcher Mnf’g. Co.

I have seen consumable remedies that used turpentine, paraffin, kerosene, or coal tar. There are medicines that were sold that were poisonous. There’s nothing else like a good purgatory.

I always liked this after I found it Skunk Grease.

I think it’s still a main ingredient in hairball remedies for cats, although a lot use mineral oil. Katalax, is one that I think uses petroleum jelly. I’ll have to look at the stuff I have at home.

My grandmother used to do the spoonful of Vaseline when you were ill. But she was a big one for castor oil too.

My mother claims I ate a significant amount (1/2 jar) when I was a toddler. That was over 45 yrs ago.

Yep, MY grandmother gave us a spoonfull every night (when we were unlucky enough to be under her care).
I have no idea what it did for us…it is undigestible, so maybe it just makes things…squishy?:wink:

… which probably gave reason to change the company name to Chesebrough-Ponds.

I feed it to my cat - she won’t have anything to do with the hairball meds she needs, but she’ll eat Vaseline right off my finger. Cats is weird.

Oh, man. Can you imaging rubbing skunk on yourself…on purpose even!:eek:

On a similar note, my father used to eat Vicks VapoRub whenever he had a cold. Not any of the modern stuff they make now, but rather the older kind that came in the blue jar that you were supposed to rub on your chest. The stuff looked kind of like Vaseline, but I don’t know if it had any in it or not. Sure smelled stronger than Vaseline!

I had an aunt who would make us (as kids) eat Vick’s when we had a cold! For this reason, whenever we were in her care, I would not admit to having a cold or cold-like symptoms! Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

My dog once ate a cherry lip balm (basically the same stuff)…cleaned him out real good!

Seeing as there seems to be no factual information provided in this thread, I took it upon myself to take 2 seconds and google it, rather than posting some sort of personal anecdote. Quite miraculously, this has resulted in what appears to be fact-like information.

Overall, it appears to be relatively benign, but it is also perhaps best to be wary of coming into regular contact with it as long term use may have downsides (e.g. cancer). There is almost certainly no advantage to regular digestion as it just passes through you.

Really? I thought the information upthread was pretty clear. The answer is “Yes, petroleum jelly was used internally. Primarily with the belief that it acted as a stool softener/mild laxative and promoted ‘regularity’.”

Grandmothers were fond of it or a spoonful mineral oil (which is basically a much more liquidy version of petroleum jelly). It’s no longer really used in its pure form this way by humans anymore, but it’s used in veterinary medicine still, along iwth minerl oil, as a laxative for cats, ferrets, elephants, etc.