Sagapenum is a gum-resin obtained from a species of Ferula, said by some authorities to be Ferula Persica, Willd., and by others F. Szoritsiana, DC. (N.O. Umbelliferae), growing in Arabia and Persia. It is imported in varying quantities into India by the Persian Gulf and coasts of Arabia, generally arriving in masses of 4 to 10 pounds in weight and tied up in coarse cloth, but occasionally parcels of fine, separate tears are to be seen; most of it, however, comes to London. Sagapenum occurs in yellow or yellowish-red, semi-transparent, agglomerated granules, resembling galbanum, but having a darker colour. When fresh some of the tears have a greenish tinge and are more or less opaque; but on keeping they become brownish-yellow and translucent. The odour is alliaceous, somewhat similar to but less disagreeable than that of asafetida, and more powerful than that of galbanum, becoming more pronounced on heating. The taste is bitter and acrid. On breaking a tear the fractured surface does not appear pink as in the case of asafetida. It softens with the heat of the hand, but does not completely melt at a higher temperature. On dry distillation it yields umbelliferone, and on fusion with potassium hydroxide resorcin. It is only partially soluble in alcohol and in ether, and tire ethereal solution is not clouded by the addition of alcohol. Ferric chloride colours its solutions black. The volatile oil is very fluid, lighter than water, pale yellow, and has the characteristic odour of the gum-resin.
Constituents.—It contains from 50 to 60 per cent. of resin, 23 to 30 per cent. of gum, 3 to 11 per cent. of volatile oil containing sulphur, and 1 to 4 per cent. of bassorin, together with calcium malate and phosphate, and small amounts of sulphur and impurities; the resin contains sagaresinotannol and umbelliferone. Although it resembles galbanum in many ways it may be distinguished by its solubility in petroleum spirit, sagapenum yielding a much larger also amount of resin than galbanum, the volatile oil contains sulphur, that of galbanum being free from it. A mixture of galbanum and asafetida is sometimes sold as sagapenum.
Action and Uses.—Sagapenum has been employed similarly to asafetida and galbanum in amenorrhoea and hysteria, but it is now rarely used.
Dose.—6 to 20 decigrams (10 to 30 grains).