Notes on some Saps and Secretions used in Pharmacy.
By P. L. Simmonds, F.L.S.
Pinus species. Very many species of Pinus yield volatile oils used in pharmacy. Among others, P. palustris, Ait, or P. pinaster, P. Taeda, Pinus sylvestris, Lin., P. Pumilio, Hank., the P. Mugus, Scop., and others.
Pinus Abies, Lin., P. Picea, Du Roi, P. vulgaris, Abies excelsa, Dec., the silver fir.—This species furnishes the oleo-resin known as Strasburg turpentine, which resembles common turpentine, but has a more agreeable odor.
P. balsamea, Lin., Abies balsamea, Marshall, A. balsamifera, Michx.—The balsam fir yields the well-known oleo-resin, Canada turpentine, which is exported from Quebec in kegs or large barrels. Canada balsam is used for medicinal and manufacturing purposes. It is an ingredient in blistering paper and flexible collodion. It is highly valued and much employed as a menstruum for mounting microscopic objects, and makes a fine, transparent varnish for watercolor drawings, which does not become darker with time.
P. Australis, Michx., P. palustris, Mill.—This is the most valuable of all the American pines. From it are obtained the American "Thus," the concrete turpentine, the volatile oil from turpentine, and the resin. There are three principal descriptions of turpentine known in commerce, American, Bordeaux and Russian. Bordeaux, from P. pinaster, Ait.; Russian, from P. sylvestris, Lin.; Chian, from Pistacia Terebinthus, Lin.
P. Canadensis, Lin., Abies Canadensis, Michx. and DeC.—The hemlock spruce furnishes the concrete turpentine known as Canada pitch, which is official in the United States. It is slightly stimulant, like Burgundy pitch, and employed for similar purposes. A volatile oil is obtained from the leaves, which produces dangerous effects. The inner bark, being a powerful astringent, is used medicinally in America, but its chief application is for tanning. The young shoots are used in making spruce beer.
Turpentine is the general name for the oleo-resinous exudations of coniferous trees, which flows in the crude state from incisions made in the stems. The turpentines, as a rule, are yellowish-white, very viscid, transparent or translucent masses, of honey consistence and of acid reaction; of a peculiar, strong, mostly unpleasant odor, and generally of a burning, aromatic, bitter, disagreeable taste; they consist chiefly of resin and volatile oil. When distilled, this oleo-resin yields the volatile oil or "spirit of turpentine." England imports from 420,000 to 520,000 cwt of oil of turpentine, in barrels of 2 to 3 cwt., chiefly from the Southern States. Its medicinal properties are stimulant, diuretic, occasionally diaphoretic and anthelmintic. In large doses, purgative, sometimes causing nausea, vomiting and intoxication. Previous to 1846, the tariff of Great Britain was such as to exclude imports of spirits of turpentine and resin.
Turpentine especially affects the kidneys and the mucus of the genito-urinary organs. Externally rubifacient, employed as a liniment in chronic affections. The yellow, translucent resin, the residue of the distillation of the turpentines, is important as an ingredient of plasters and ointments, which are employed as stimulant applications to indolent and ill-conditioned ulcers.
Picea vulgaris Link., in the north of Europe, furnishes a quantity of resin, from which different products are obtained, among others, pitch. From Larix Europaea is obtained the resinous extract known as Briancon, or Venice turpentine, employed in consumption.
From P(inus). pinaster, Ait., P. maritima, Poir. and Dec. (the cluster pine). Galipot is obtained, also known as "Barras." It is employed, like American "Thus," in the preparation of certain plasters. The annual production from a tree ranges from 5 to 8 pounds.
P. religiosa, H. B. K.—The turpentine produced by this tree is similar in properties to the Venice turpentine. The local name of this tree in Mexico is Oyatmetl.
P. sylvestris, C. Bauhin.—Tar is procured by the destructive distillation of the fir in Northern Europe and America. That used in North America is chiefly obtained from P. palustris, Mill. (P. Australis, Michx.). The tar obtained in Europe is generally considered superior to that of America. The imports of tar into the United Kingdom were, in 1892, 132,000 barrels, and in 1893, 102,216 barrels, of about 30 gallons each. Tar acts as a stimulant, diuretic and diaphoretic, but is not much employed in medicine. It may be used internally in chronic catarrhal affections, and complaints of the urinary passages, also for some chronic skin diseases. Tar water used to be popular in England as a medicinal drink, and in France in most of the Duval and other cheap restaurants, gallons of "Eau de Goudron" are drank daily.
A kind of barrillin is prepared from the cambium sap of this pine. An oily substance, called "fir-wool spirit," has been introduced from Germany, recommended for external use in rheumatism, neuralgia, etc.
P. Larix, Lin., Abies Larix, Lamarck., Larix Europaea, Dec.—Larch bark is considered to be stimulant, astringent and diuretic. This tree furnishes Venice turpentine, the properties and uses of which are the same as those of the other turpentines.
P. nigra, Ait., when tapped, yields the essence of spruce, an infusion of which, with the leaves and branches, in water, sweetened with molasses, makes the chowder, or black beer, used by the fishermen of Newfoundland as an antiscorbutic.
P. Picea, Du Roi, P. Abies, Lin.—The resinous exudation from the spruce fir, commonly known as Burgundy pitch, is obtained chiefly in Finland and the Black Forest. It is a useful application as a plaster to the chest in chronic coughs and other pulmonary affections, to the loins in lumbago, and to the joints in rheumatism.
P. Taeda, Linn.—The oldfield, or frankincense, a fine American pine, furnishes similar products to P. sylvestris and P. Australis. It yields turpentine in good quantity, though of inferior quality, and exudes much resin.
P. Teocot, Schlecht.—The Brea turpentine produced resembles that of Bordeaux. It yields 17 per cent. of essential oil. The tree abounds in the mountains that surround the valley of Mexico, and in some other localities in that country. Its local name is Ocoto.
Pistacia Lentiscus, Lin.—This and P. Atlantica furnish the gum resin of commerce known as mastic. The largest consumption is in the east of Europe, where it is universally chewed like chicle gum in America, and thence derives its popular name. The women of Scio, Smyrna and Constantinople have almost always a piece of mastic in their mouths. It is asserted to be effectual in whitening the teeth, strengthening the gums, and sweetening the breath. Hence it is used by dentists, and also the inferior kinds for making varnishes, and is one of the ingredients in fumigation. It is obtained in the Greek archipelago, by making incisions in the bark of the tree. When good it occurs in pale yellow, brittle, transparent drops, of an astringent taste, slight agreeable odor, especially when heated. Such as inclines to black, green, or is dirty, should be avoided. The principal revenue of Chios, or Scio, is derived from this gum resin, of which some 4,000 to 5,000 cwt. are obtained. The picked first quality is sent to Constantinople, France and Austria, in small cases. Very little comes to England, only a few cases. The second and third qualities are used in the manufacture of mastic raki, a liqueur made with spirit, mixed with pulverized mastic, which is boiled and cooled. About 200,000 gallons of this are exported annually from Scio.
Pistacia Terebinthus, Linn.—The Chian turpentine of commerce was obtained from this tree in Scio. The produce was under 1,000 lbs. a year. As a medicine it is now obsolete. It is chiefly used in Greece, and other parts of the Levant, for preserving wine, and flavoring the spirituous cordial called Raki.
A resinous gum called Alk or Lik (whence the word Lac), flows so abundantly from the trees, even without incision, in Algeria, that it is often dangerous to sleep under them. It is supposed that this tree would yield good terebinthine.
The resins of Algeria are those from the teribinth cedar, juniper, Pinus halepensis, Mill, (of which there are large forests), Thuya articulata, Vahl., sandarac and mastic.
Pluchea balsamifera, Less. Blumea balsamifera, Dec. Conyza balsamifera, Lin.—This Eastern shrub has diaphoretic and expectorant properties, in lung diseases. It is the source of a kind of camphor known as Ngai, exported from the Chinese port of Hoihow, in the island of Hainan, to the extent of about 15,000 lbs. annually. The crude camphor is refined at Canton, and is then known as Ngai-pun, and about 10,000 lbs. are exported yearly from Canton.
Plumeria phagadaemia, Mart.—The milky juice is used in the Amazon valley of Brazil as a vermifuge, administered in coffee, with castor oil. It is also applied externally in rheumatism, and for the cure of ulcers, boils, dislocations, etc.
Populus balsamifera, Linn.—The leaf buds of this species, and of P. nigra, Lin., are gathered for medicinal purposes. Their resinous secretion is said to be diuretic and antiscorbutic. It is used to prevent rancidity in ointments, but paraffin is equally effectual.
Mimusops globosa Gaertner, Chicle gum, exudes from this and another species in Mexico, and is largely collected, being used in the United States for chewing. The exports from Mexico in 1892 were to the value of over $476,000.
Prosopis dulcis, H. B.—Mezquite is used in the preparation of mucilage, gum-drops, jujube-paste, etc. The gum, which exudes from the trunk and branches, is very soluble in water, and forms, when dissolved, a demulcent of a sweet, creamy and agreeable taste, but souring more readily, and probably containing a larger proportion of tannic and gallic acid than gum arable.
There are vast forests of the mezquite trees, embracing millions of acres, in the southwestern part of Texas, The process of gathering the gum is simple. The outside bark of the tree is scraped off, and the gum begins to exude and form in icicle-shaped masses, and, after one day's exposure in the autumn, is dry and hard enough to collect. Its color, however, unfits it for pharmaceutical purposes.
Prunus spinosa, Lin.—The acid, astringent juice of the fruit (the sloe), inspissated over a slow fire, has been used in France as a substitute for catechu. The leaves have that peculiar flavor which exists in Spiraea ulmaria, the American Gaultheria, and some other plants, which resembles the more delicate perfume of green tea, and hence they were said to be used as adulterants of tea. A water distilled from the blossoms is used as a medicmal vehicle in some parts of the continent.