Assessing sensory properties of the early modern medicine “Elixir amarum Hiaernei”

Nils-Otto Ahnfelt, Hjalmar Fors, Karin Wendin

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragPoster

12 Nedladdningar (Pure)



We are reworking the early modern medicine with focus on products, today known as Swedish Bitters or similar names, and historically as “Elixir amarum Hiaernei”. The history of the recipe dates back at least to mid-18th century. It was probably one of the Hiaerne-brothers, Ulrik Leonhard (1712-1758) or Christian Henric (1709-1794), who invented this universal medication. From a number of Linnaeus sources from later 18th century it is well known that odor, flavor and taste were used to assess pharmacological potential of medicinal herbals.

The purpose of this study was to assess ingredients of “Elixir amarum Hiaernei” from a sensory perspective.      


The ingredients in “Elixir amarum Hiaernei” according to the 18th century recipes: agarikon, aloe, gentian, myrrh, rhubarb, saffron, Theriac Andromachalis, zedoary together with alcohol and sugar.

These ingredients were assessed by a trained sensory panel using a slightly modified version of the Flavor Profile Method®. Each ingredient was evaluated with respect to odor, taste and flavor.


All ingredients were intense in taste, flavor and odor. The ingredients could be described due to its sensory characteristics, in which they differed largely. However, they had in common that they were high in bitterness.


The ingredients of this historic medication had intense tastes, flavors and odors in line with historical sources. It points for example out that the senses, especially olfaction, was of high importance for the apothecary during the 18th century. In order to find the right blend of ingredients the sensory profiles were of highest importance, both ingredients and blended medication were valuated due to this by physicians as well as patients. Sensory evaluation was also of major importance in the quality assessment of medical herbals by the early modern apothecary.


Sensory profiles of the medical ingredients will be presented at the Eurosense symposium.

StatusPublicerad - 2018
EvenemangEurosense2018 -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan.-01 → …


Period80-01-01 → …

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Historia (60101)


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