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the reddish-brown and extremely bitter tincture of opium is called laudanum. it contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine, and its high morphine concentration makes it a potent narcotic. laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines.