Notes on some Saps and Secretions used in Pharmacy. (cont'd)
By P. L. Simmonds, F.L.S.
Dorema ammoniacum, Don. (Diserneston gummiferum, Sp. and Jaub.; Peucedanum ammoniacum, Nees.)
This fetid gum resin, having properties similar to asafoetida, comes in mass and in tears from Persia.
Lump ammoniacum resembles galbanum, while that in tears is somewhat like olibanum, but has a smooth surface outside, and an opaque fracture. It is used in medicine as an antispasmodic, stimulant and expectorant, in chronic catarrh, bronchial affections and asthma, and also for some plasters.
The imports into London are not large, and average about lOO packages, but fluctuate; in 1891, only 46 packages were received, but in 1892, 279 cases of 1 ½ cwt. each, and in 1893, 45 cases.
It is called "Uschekh" in Persia; in that country it is much used as an inward medicament, and also frequently for greasing the spinning wheels, as it is very cheap.
Dracaena species. The dragon's blood of Africa has been known in medicine from the earliest historical times. About 200 chests in mass or blocks come into London yearly. It is the resinous exudation of several different plants, is dark red-brown, and, when pulverized, carmine red, without taste or smell.
The African from Somali land is yielded by D. Schizantha, and that of Socotra by D. Ombet [Dracaena draco]. The resin exudes, after the bark has been scraped, in about a fortnight. The Socotra kind is exported from Aden to Bombay.
Dragon's blood was formerly referred to Dracaena Draco, Lin., and Calamus Draco, Lin. [Daemonorops draco] The Sumatra dragon's blood appears in commerce in the form of reeds or sticks about a foot long wrapped in palm leaves. It is, sometimes, employed in the composition of tooth-powders, but seldom now in medicine. Pterocarpus Draco [Pterocarpus officinalis] also yields dragon's blood, and other species kino.
Eperua falcata, Aubl., Dimorpha falcata, Swartz. The Wallaba resin obtained from this tree in Guiana is inflammable and gives a bright light.
Its styptic and curative powers in cuts and bruises are well appreciated by the Indians and other natives of the Colony. An oil obtained from the wood is also used as a dressing for incised wounds.
Eucalyptus rostrata, Schlechtendal [Eucalyptus camaldulensis]. An exudation from this tree is a most invaluable medicine in certain disorders. It exudes in a fluid state from the bark, and in some instances between the different layers of the wood, and by the evaporation of the watery particles by which it is held in solution, it concretes into a beautiful ruby-colored gum, which, when exposed for a length of time to the air and sun, assumes a black color from an imperfect oxidation, losing at the same time its astringency. This gum is an original astringent principle, analogous in some respects to tannin, the basis of other vegetable astringents, but by no means identical with that compound.
It is more effective than catechu, or Indian kinos, although it contains a less amount of astringent matter.
Dr. J. Sutherland, of Bathurst, Australia, in a communication to my Technologist (vol. 3, p. 69), thus speaks of it:
"As a medicine, it is a more powerful astringent than any in our Pharmacopoeias, and justly merits a place among the legitimate articles of the Materia Medica. I have prescribed it in a variety of disorders in which astringents are indicated, and found it peculiarly serviceable in certain stages of diarrhoea and dysentery, in passive haemorrhage, as an injection in leucorrhoea, gonorrhoea and gleet, in scurvy of the gums; as a gargle when the acute symptoms have subsided, in relaxation of the uvula, in haemorrhoids; in the form of an ointment made by dissolving a drachm of the gum in a teaspoonful of water, and, when intimately mixed, rubbing it up with an ounce of lard. The dose for internal administration varies from one or two grains to twenty, dissolved in water."
Euphorbia officinarum, Lin., or E. resinifera, Berg. The above, E. canariensis, Lin., and some other fleshy species, produce the saline, waxy resin, called in the shops "Gum Euphorbium," which is the inspissated, milky juice of these plants. It is chiefly obtained in the neighborhood of Mogadore and called "Dergmuce." It is used as a vesicant in veterinary medicine, but is seldom employed otherwise. The inhabitants of the lower regions of the Atlas Range make incisions in the branches of the plant, and, from these, the milky sap exudes, which is so acrid that it excoriates the fingers when applied to them. This exuded juice hardens by the heat of the sun, and forms a whitish-yellow solid, which drops off in the month of September and forms the Euphorbium of commerce. It causes considerable irritation of the nostrils and eyes when powdered. E. Antiquorum, Lin., yields a hydrocarbon, gutta-percha-like substance, known as "Cattimandoo," which is the Dorf of the Hindus—a much-prized medicine.
Feronium elephantum, Corr. [Limonia acidissima]; Crataeva Valanga, Kon. This tree yields a brownish or reddish gum with a small proportion of clear, yellow tears, soluble in water. The Pharmacopoeia of India pronounces it as superior to gum arabic for medicinal purposes.
Ficus elastica, Roxburgh; Urostigma clasticum, Miqu. To give some idea of the vastly increasing extent to which rubber, obtained from various elastic saps, is now required, it may be stated that the British imports of caoutchouc, in 1893, were 293,373 cwt., and the United States import even more. The combined imports of India-rubber and gutta-percha into the United Kingdom in 1893, were about 324,000 cwt. Great Britain also imports about 3,250,000 pounds of rubber manufactures. At Wedzell's factories, in Munden and Hildesheim alone, there were produced, a few years ago, over 100.000 pounds of surgical articles from it.
Fraxinus ornus, Lin.; F. rotundifolia, Lam.; Ornus Europaea, Pers.; or Ornus rotundifolia. The sweet exudation, known as "Manna," is chiefly the concrete juice obtained by incising the bark of the ash and collecting it on pieces of stick, hence, called flaky manna. The best is in oblong, light, friable pieces, of a whitish color and somewhat transparent, with a sweetish, sharp taste and a weak smell. The inferior kinds are moist, unctuous and dark-colored. It is a mild aperient medicine. Each hectare (of two and one-half acres) planted with the ash—4,000 to 5,000 trees—produces on an average nearly 2,000 pounds of manna. It used to be produced in Calabria, but that exported comes chiefly now from Palermo, in tin boxes weighing about 14 pounds. Small flake- manna is sent out in cases of about 120 pounds, large flake-manna, in cases of half that size. The export of manna from Italy, in 1884, was about 446,000 pounds. Spurious manna is known by its uniform color and freedom from the slight impurities, as well as from the peculiar odor and slight bitterness of true manna.
Calabria was, many years ago, the only source of the manna of commerce, but the production there has ceased, and, as stated above, Sicily is now the chief seat of production. Manna is nutritious, particularly when recent. It is a mild laxative, does not excite inflammation, useful for children and delicate females, usually operating mildly, but in some cases produces flatulence and pain.
In certain cases, the leaves of Larix Europaea [Larix decidua] exude a species of manna called "Manna of Briancon," which is eaten in Russia. Another kind is from Tamarix mannifera [Tamarix nilotica], and the Oriental manna of the desert from Alhagi maurorum, DeC, A. mannifera, Desf. The sugary secretion obtained naturally from this plant is chiefly collected in Khorasan, Kurdistan and Hamadan, and imported into Bombay. As a medicine its effects correspond to those of the ash manna.
The Arabs who cross the deserts avail themselves of the manna of the camel's thorn (Alhagi camelorum, Fisch. [Alhagi maurorum]). It is found in the morning on the ground round the plant, during several days of the summer, and is collected before the sun can melt it. It occurs in small, round, unequal grains, the size of coriander seed, of a yellowish white or greenish yellow color, caking together and forming an opaque mass, in which are found portions of the thorns and points of the plant. This manna is inodorous, its flavor is sweetly saccharine, followed by slight acidity. The Khergese use it for various kinds of sweetmeats. The inhabitants collect these exudations and make them into loaves or cakes. These soon become of a black color, owing to a kind of fermentation, produced by the air and moisture. The flavor of these manna loaves resembles that of senna in taste; they also resemble senna combined with sweetness. These two characters lead one to suppose that this manna is more purgative than nutritive. Some authors, as Halle and Guillamin, state that this constituted the manna of the Hebrews, but it is more generally supposed that the Lecanora affinis, Eversm, was the substance upon which the Israelites fed in the wilderness.
Some kinds of manna are obtained in Kurdistan from the dwarf oak, tamarisk, and other trees, but are seldom met with in commerce, being used up locally.
A kind of manna is found in small quantities on the branches of the cedar of Lebanon, in the form of transparent, resinous drops, indubitably the result of the puncture of an insect, like the lerp of Australia. The monks collect this manna and prepare with it various electuaries and ointments, which are sold to strangers visiting the monasteries. This cedar manna enjoys a considerable reputation in Syria as a remedy in phthisis.
The imports of manna into the United States were as follows: in 1888, 31,703 pounds; in 1889, 25,246 pounds; and in 1890, 43,509 pounds.