Notes on some Saps and Secretions used in Pharmacy.
By P. L. Simmonds, F.L.S.
Butea frondosa, Roxb. [Butea monosperma] This Indian tree—the Dhak or Pulas—yields a gum which is sold as Bengal kino. It occurs in the form of fragmentary pieces of a deep claret color, mixed with similarly-shaped particles of gray bark. The purer qualities are met with in round tears, often bright claret colored and free from dirt. It may be purified by solution in water. The brilliant ruby-red colored tears are translucent and very brittle, heat rendering them more so, instead of melting the gum. With age, it darkens, and becomes opaque. In native medicine, in India, it is largely used as an astringent.
Camphora officinarum, Nees. [Cinnamomum camphora] The aggregate exports of camphor from China have increased considerably of late years. They were 22,231 cwt. in 1892, and 40,763 cwt. in 1893. The island of Formosa yields the principal quantities, the yearly output being now as much as 41,650 cwt., shipped from the ports of Tamsui and Tainan. The exports from Japan range from 3,000,000 to 4,500,000 cattsen, = 35,714 cwt. to 53,571 cwt.
Malay or Borneo camphor is obtained from Dryobalanops aromatica. The imports of crude camphor into the United States seem on the decline, having been 2,857,222 lbs. in 1887, and but 1,733,425 lbs. in 1893.
Canarium commune, Lin. [Canarium indicum] This tree yields the concrete resinous exudation, known as Manila Elemi. It has a fragrant, fennel-like odor, and is usually soft and unctuous to the touch. Its medicinal properties are analogous to those of turpentine, and it is for external use only. It is said, however, to have the same properties as copaiva.
C. edula [Dacryodes edulis], of Africa, exudes a similar resin.
C. strictum, Roxb. The black dammar tree, yields a brilliant resin, which is used medicinally in India as a substitute for Burgundy pitch.
Carica papaya, Lin. This tree has several valuable medicinal properties. The milky juice is among the best vermifuges known. The natives in India repeatedly use it for children. In the West Indies the powder of the seeds is used for the same purpose. The juice of the fruit is said to destroy freckles on the skin, caused by the sun's heat, and the negroes eniploy the leaves to wash linen, instead of soap. The fruit is pickled and preserved for curries. The milky, viscid juice of the fruit has a singular effect in rendering meat tender. It has this effect even if the meat is hung under the tree for two or three hours.
Cedrus Dedara, Loudon. This tall, handsome Indian tree yields a true resin, and, by destructive distillation, a dark-colored oil, resembling tar, which is used medicinally.
Cistus Creticus, Lin.
Labdanum, or Ladanum, is a viscous, resinous exudation from the above species, and also to some extent from C. ladaniferus, L., C. Ledon, Lam., C. laurifolius, L.,and C. monspiliensis, Lin. It is black brown, soft, of pleasant smell and bitter taste, and was once in high repute in medicine as a stimulant and expectorant, and recommended in chronic catarrh; but at present is chiefly used in perfumery. About 50 cwt. are annually collected in Crete, and some quantity also m Cyprus, and sent to Constantinople. Labdanum was formerly regarded by the Turks as a preventive against the plague, and they wore pieces as amulets, or affixed to their walking-sticks. They chiefly use it now for fumigation.
Cochlospermum Gossypium, DeC. [Cochlospermum religiosum] This tree and Sterculia urens yield a clear white gum, which can be employed as a substitute for tragacanth, and is exported to America. It is issued to the Government hospitals in Bombay instead of tragacanth, and is largely used in that city in the manufacture of sweetmeats.
Commia Cochinchinensis, Lour. [Excoecaria agallocha] This tree yields a white tenacious gum, of an emetic, purgative, deobstruent nature. If prudently administered, it is useful in obstinate dropsy and obstructions.
Copaifera Lansdorffii, Desf. This and some other species (C. officinalis, Lin., C. Martii, Hayne, C. Guianensis, Desf., and C. coriacea, Mart. [Copaifera martii]) are believed to yield the medicinal oleoresin. It is obtained chiefly from the Amazon district, by making incisions in the tree, and the sap flows so abundantly that as much as 12 pounds weight is collected in a few hours, and 42 quarts during the season. The source of copaiba is usually given as C. multijuga, but this is very questionable. In its medicinal action, copaiva is of great value as a diuretic and stimulant remedy in certain affections of the bladder and urethra; also in chronic bronchitis and other affections of the lungs and air passages, attended with excessive secretion. It has likewise been found serviceable in some chronic skin diseases, as leprosy and psoriasis. The imports into London are included with other balsams, therefore the quantity cannot be given. The imports into the United States, however, were, in 1888, 132,262 pounds; in 1889, 163,624 pounds, and in 1890, 206,240 pounds.
Dichopsis Gutta, Bentham [Palaquium gutta]; Isonandra Percha, Hooker; Isonandra Gutta, Lind.; Palaquium Gutta, Baillon and Burck. Guttapercha, although chiefly employed for various economic purposes, has also a few medicinal and surgical applications. Sheets softened in water, when applied to injured limbs, harden and form good splints; dissolved in chloroform, it is applied as a dressing for wounds, and various surgical instruments are made of it. The imports into Great Britain in 1890 were 70,162 cwt., of the value of nearly £800,000, and in 1893, 40,497 cwt., valued at £303,593.
Dipterocarpus laevis, Ham. [Dipterocarpus turbinatus]
The wood oil known in all the Indian bazaars as "Gurgun," is obtained by tapping certain trees of this order, and applying heat to the incision. Several species yield the oil, which has all the medical properties of some of the more esteemed balsams, especially as a substitute for capaiva, in gonorrhoea and certain skin diseases.
D. incanus, Roxb. [Dipterocarpus alatus], is reported to furnish the largest proportions of the best sort. The following is Roxburgh's account of the manner of obtaining this oil from D. turbinatus, Gaert.: "This tree is famous over all the eastern parts of India and the Malay Islands, on account of its yielding a thin, liquid balsam, commonly called 'wood oil,' which is much used in painting ships, houses, etc. To procure the balsam, a large notch is cut into the trunk of the tree, near the earth, and, say, about 30 inches from the ground, where a fire is kept up, until the wood is charred, soon after which the liquid begins to ooze out. A gutter is cut in the wood to conduct the liquid into a vessel placed to receive it. The average product of the best trees during the season is said to be sometimes 40 gallons. It is found necessary, every three or four weeks, to cut off the old charred surfaces, and burn them afresh; in large, healthy trees abounding in balsam, they even cut a second notch in some other part of the tree, and char it as the first. These operations are performed from November to February. Should any of the trees appear sickly the following season, one or more year's respite is given them."
This oleo-resin has been used in the cure of leprosy. Large quantities are exported from Burma to Europe, as it has become an important drug in trade. From the port of Hankow, in China, in 1893, 403,200 cwt. of this oil was exported.