Guaiacum. Guaiacum officinale.

Synonyms—Guaiacum wood, Lignum vitae, Lignum sanctum, Lignum benedictum.

A resin and essential oil.


Tincture. The resin or gum guaiac. While we have described the wood and the tree from which the resin is obtained, the medicinal principle is located in the gum from the wood, which is procured by natural exudation. A wound in the bark of the tree will permit the exudation of the juice. The gum can also be obtained from the chips of the wood boiled in salt and water. At other times large pieces of the wood are heated, the heat causing the gum to exude. The gum is met with, in amorphous hard dense masses, of varying sizes. It has a sweetish, faintly bitter taste, somewhat acrid. It becomes tough when chewed and may be melted with a moderate heat. When cold it may be readily reduced to powder. It is practically insoluble in water. The resin contains guaiacol, guaiacolum, kersol and protocatechuic acid.
The dose of the powdered resin is from one to twenty grains.
The dose of the tincture is from one to four drams.
The ammoniated tincture may be given in doses of from ten to forty minims.

Specific SymptomatologyInflamed tonsils, swollen, tumid and painful. Painful deglutitions. Dribbling of saliva. Persistent dryness of the throat, with difficulty in swallowing. Rheumatic difficulty, accompanying tonsilitis. Rheumatic disease, accompanied with any soreness of the throat.

Therapy—This remedy is a most active astringent in full doses, and yet in overdoses it acts as a cathartic. In medium doses it influences acute dysentery and diarrhea, and other relaxed conditions of the bowels. In very small doses, from the one-twenty-fifth to the one-tenth of a grain of the resin, it is said to cure some cases of habitual constipation, those depending upon extreme atonicity.

Prof. Locke says the remedy is not available when there is a high degree of inflammation, with great vascular excitement.

The agent has long been used as a remedy for chronic rheumatism. It seems to influence the elimination in a satisfactory manner. In rheumatic sore throat and rheumatic pharyngitis, it is a good remedy. The indications for rhus toxicodendron will often be found present with the indications for this agent. Guaiacum of old, had a reputation in the cure of syphilis. It has alterative properties and is useful in some cases of skin disease of a chronic character, but we have superior remedies.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.