Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Oleum jecoris aselli

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oleum jecoris morrhua



Traditional name

Italian: olio di fegato di merluzzo
English: cod liver oil

Used parts

Oil obtained from the livers of Gadus morrhua and some other allied fishes: trituration.


Animalia; Chordata / Vertebrata - Vertebrates; Pisces - Fishes; Gadiformes; Gadidae


Original proving

Proved by Neidhard

proving of Herbert Moellinger, 1998

Description of the substance

Besides the high nutritive value of the flesh, the liver oil has been a source of vitamins A and D for centuries. Cod-liver oil contains 15-20% saturated fatty acids and 80-90% unsaturated fatty acids.

This oil is principally procured from the common cod, termed asellus major; hence the name oleum jecoris aselli.
The fish — oils of commerce are either obtained exclusively from the liver, or are procured from the adipose tissue diffused through the body of the animal generally. In the former we are prepared to find bile — constituents which are not obtainable from the latter. The oils obtained from the livers of the different species composing the tribe gadidae, or the cod — tribe, appear to be very similar in their physical and chemical qualities, and there is good reason for believing that they agree in their medicinal properties. In different countries the mode of preparing the oil varies somewhat. Pennent, in his Arctic Zoology, furnishes the following description of the mode in which the oil is prepared by Newfoundland Fishermen: "They take a half tub and, boring a hole through the bottom, press hard down into it a layer of spruce boughs, upon which they place the livers, and expose the whole apparatus to as sunny a place as possible. As the livers corrupt, the oil runs from them, and, straining itself through the spruce boughs, is caught in the vessel set under the hole in the tub's bottom". We are informed by Pereira that at Newhaven, near Edinburgh, the fishermen simply boil the livers in a iron pot and then filter the oil through a towel containing a little sand.
     Of late great pains are taken to prepare a pure article of cod — liver oil. Large capital is invested in its manufacture. To prepare the best brands, the fish are taken to the shore, the fresh livers are removed and placed into a large boiler; currents of steam are forced at a very high pressure through the mass of livers, tearing them to pieces and melting out their oil.
     We generally meet with three kinds of cod — liver oil, pale — yellow, brown — yellow, and dark — brown. The finest oil is that which is most devoid of color, odor and flavour. The oil as contained in the cells of the fresh liver is nearly colorless, and the brownish color possessed by the ordinary cod — oil is due to coloring matters derived from the decomposing hepatic tissues and fluids, or from the action of air on the oil. Chemical analysis lends no support to the opinion at one time entertained, that the brown oil is superior, as a therapeutical agent, to the pale oil. Chemistry has not discovered any substances in the brown oil which would confer on it superior activity as a medicine. On the other hand, the disgusting odor and flavor and nauseating qualities of the brown oil preclude its repeated use.
Iodine is sometimes admixed by fraudulent persons with train — oil to imitate cod — liver oil. The presence of this substance may be readily detected by adding a solution of starch and a few drops of sulphuric acid, by which the blue iodide of starch is produced; or the suspected oil may be shaken with alcohol which abstracts the iodine.
Sulphuric acid furnishes a test for the presence of bile in cod — liver. De Jongh, a Dutch chemist, who made a most elaborate analysis of cod — liver oil in the laboratory of Mulder, another Dutch chemist of immortal renown in the history of physiology, has shown that all the essential constituents of bile are contained in cod — liver oil. Hence, if these constituents are not contained in the oil, we may conclude that the oil was not obtained from the liver of the fish, but from other parts of its body. If bile is present in the oil, and a drop of concentrated sulphuric acid be added to it, it must strike a fine violet — red color. [Hemple]

    Gadus morrhua, or Atlantic cod, belongs to a family of mainly marine fish. All the fish in this family have a large oil-bearing liver. The cod is an olive-green to brownish fish with a silvery belly, a small strand on the chin, and a white stripe along the flanks. The sharp teeth can be quite well developed. In the first year of life, it quickly grows to a length of 20 to 30 centimetres, and can eventually reach a maximum of 1.5 metres and a weight of 95 kg. Since it is not so sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, it is found in polar as well as temperate regions. The young fish prefer to remain in coastal waters, while adults like the open sea, in which they hunt for food at depths of up to 600 metres. A voracious omnivore, it swims along the sea bed like a vacuum cleaner, searching for crustaceans, molluscs, worms and fish. Its preference for herring, which prompts it to follow migrating schools of herring, makes it a formidable rival of herring fishermen.
     When winter comes, cod migrate in huge numbers to the coast in order to spawn. They are extremely fertile and a female can produce up to 9 million eggs. Fertilisation of the tiny eggs, which float to the surface, only occurs when the eggs coincidentally come into contact with milt. Following this, the fish again swim back to the open sea.
     Besides the high nutritive value of the flesh, the liver oil has been a source of vitamins A and D for centuries. Cod-liver oil contains 15-20% saturated fatty acids and 80-90% unsaturated fatty acids. In the past, it was an important remedy against rachitis and other avitaminoses; nowadays it has been superseded by synthetic vitamins. Cod-liver oil also contains a relatively high content of iodine. "A traditional source of vitamin D, cod-liver oil has long been the nightmare of many children. Vitamin D is necessary, in small doses, for growth; it prevents rickets. However, in excessive doses, it hinders growth [in the Mediterranean region, which enjoys an exceptional amount of sunlight, people are relatively small …]."
    Proved by Neidhard. Provings made with De Jongh's Norwegian oil, an "oil obtained from the liver of various species of fish, mostly of the genus Gadus, especially from the species Gadus morrhua [the Newfoundland cod]." Neidhard recorded the effects of tablespoonfuls of the oil; not all participants were 'healthy provers'; several of them had lung troubles. Dr. Spear relates the "effects of large doses two or three times a day [no other cause could be assigned for death by pneumonia]." !!