Blue and white albarello vase, from Albisola or Savona, Italy, used for benedicta lar., 1600-1690
The inscription tells us much about the contents of the jar. Benedicta lar is a shortened version of Benedicta Laxativa – “the Blessed Laxative”. This preparation was so called to avoid confusion with similar but less valuable preparations. Made from a mixture of crushed seeds, plants, sugar and honey, the laxative was used to loosen and purge phlegm from the body. It was believed an excessive amount of cold phlegm, one of the four humours, caused trouble with the joints, such as arthritis and gout.