The balsamic exudate or concrete juice of Liquidambar styraciflua, Linné (Nat. Ord. Hamamelaceae). The sweet-gum tree of the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
Common Name: Sweet Gum.
Description.—An opaque, almost black, soft, adhesive, resinous mass, or hard masses breaking with a resinous fracture, of the pleasant odor of benzoin, and a bitterish, pungent, benzoinic taste. It softens in warm weather; becomes hard in cold weather. Soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, and fats and oils. Dose, 1 to 15 grains.
Principal Constituents.—The resin styrol, cinnamic acid, styracin, and storesin, a complex alcohol.
Action and Therapy.—External. King highly valued an ointment of liquidambar and lard or tallow, equal parts, as a softening and antiseptic application to ulcers and in anal fistulae with indurated edges, and especially for indolent ulcers and old sores upon the legs. Like many balsamic preparations it is said to benefit in parasitic skin diseases, as ringworm of the scalp and porrigo scutulata. It is also reputed to give relief in hemorrhoids. It should be tried in anal fissure, as it acts without causing pain. To render it more efficient, though probably at the risk of causing some pain, we would suggest the addition of a small amount of salicylic acid.
Internal. Like most balsams it is effectual in chronic coughs and catarrhs.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1922, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.