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Turpentine has been use as a natural medicine for thousands of years. Turpentine is made by distilling resin from pine trees. Today, manufacturing industries use turpentine to make varnishes, paint thinner and to create aromatics. For a more comprehensive list of medicinal plants, go here.

While not as common as it once was, the use of turpentine for home health remedies continues-- but with extreme caution. If used improperly, turpentine vapor can be hazardous. It can damage the lungs, central nervous system, eyes and skin. If consumed, turpentine may damage the kidneys. It is also flammable.

Cuts and Abrasions

Turpentine was once a common home remedy for treating minor cuts and abrasions. People would place a small amount of turpentine on a piece of cotton wool and bind it to the wound. When the cotton wool dried, they would add a few more drops of turpentine to the material. The purpose was to keep the wound clean; turpentine was thought to have antiseptic qualities. Skin exposed to turpentine may become irritated and swollen, however.

Breathing Problems

Although turpentine is hazardous to lungs, it was also thought to ease breathing difficulties if rubbed on to the chest and back in small quantities. This belief is still current. In Latvia, for example, you can buy turpentine at pharmacies. The turpentine comes in the form of an ointment. This makes it easier to apply as well as control the dosage. Other home remedies suggest adding turpentine in liquid form to hot water and breathing-in the fumes to clear nasal blockages. Please note that this practice can harm the lungs.


Pneumonia is a serious condition. Sufferers should seek professional advice. Nevertheless, there are various old home remedies that aim to treat pneumonia. One of these involves turpentine. To treat pneumonia, turpentine oil was massaged over the ribs. Meanwhile, cotton wool or a cloth was warmed in front of a fire. Once the turpentine oil has been applied, the cotton wool was wrapped around the torso. This treatment is intended to relieve the pain that pneumonia causes.


Sprains occur in all parts of the body and vary in severity. Common locations include the legs, feet and arms. Sprains can cause swelling, pain, bruising and mobility difficulties. One old home remedy for sprains uses a blend of honey, turpentine and camphor oil in equal quantities. The mix is rubbed onto the sprain. Another way to treat sprains using turpentine involves blending it with an equal amount of sunflower oil and massaging the mixture into the affected area.