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Oil of Ben.

Oil of Ben. Behen Oil.—This is a fixed oil extracted from the seeds of Moringa arabica Pers. (Fam. Moringaceae), and from M. pterygosperma Gaertn. (M. Oleifera Lam.). It should not be confounded with oil of benne from Sesamum indicum L. (Fam. Pedaliaceae). These are trees of the Fam. Moringaceae, inhabiting different parts of India, Arabia, Syria, etc., and introduced into the West Indies. The leaves and other parts have an acrid property, which has probably given the name of horseradish tree to M. pterygosperma. According to Henry Schachan (Nouv. Rem., 1890), the tincture of the root is very actively diuretic and useful in cardiac dropsy. The oil of the seeds has long been known, though used in the arts rather than in medicine. It is prepared in Europe from the seeds brought from Egypt; and it would appear, from the statements of Macfadyen, that the idea generally prevailing that it is also extracted in the West Indies is incorrect. The oil has a sp. gr. of from 0.912 to 0.917; it solidifies at about 0° C. ( 32° F.); indeed at 7° C. (44.6° F.) it begins to deposit the solid fats. It is inodorous, clear, and nearly colorless, and keeps long without becoming rancid. It resembles olive oil, and is used for similar purposes. Merat and De Lens say that it is purgative; but most of the fixed oils are so in sufficient doses. According to Volcker, the oil contains palmitin, olein, and a peculiar fatty matter yielding an acid by saponification, which he names benic (or behenic) acid. (J. P. C., xvi, 77.) Heintz considered benic acid as simply a mixture of palmitic and myristic acids. (Pogg. Ann., xcii, 601.) It is, however, now recognized as one of the normal fatty acid series, possessing the formula C22H44O2.


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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