Notes on some Saps and Secretions used in Pharmacy.
By P. L. Simmonds, F.L.S.
Garcinia, sp. The yellow gum resin known as gamboge and used as a pigment and in medicine is believed to be obtained from different species of this family. From G. cochin chinensis, Chois., G. Morella, Desv., G. pictoria, Roxb., G. Hanburii, Hook. fil. Several Indian species of Garcinia seem to furnish gamboge.
It is chiefly received from Siam in the form of pipe or roll, and in cylindrical masses. It has a faint odor, and an acrid, rancid, afterwards sweetish taste. It is employed medicinally in the treatment of dropsical affections, amenorrhea and obstinate constipation, attended with torpidity of the bowels, and has frequently been found effectual in the expulsion of the tape-worm. It is a valuable drastic and hydragogue cathartic, and also possesses anthelmintic and diuretic properties. It consists of 75 per cent. of resin and 15 of gum.
On the Continent of Europe it is known as "gum gutte," from the mode of its preparation. When the sap of the tree is in active circulation, the leaves and young branches are broken off, and the yellow juice that flows from the wounds is collected in cocoanut shells, or twisted leaves, of the plant itself. This is afterwards poured into larger vessels, made of clay, and dried in the sun until it is of a proper consistence.
G. bowa, Roxb. (I can only find G. cowa, not G. bowa. -Henriette), yields a kind of gamboge of a somewhat paler color than that produced by G. Morella.
Gardenia lucida, Roxb. A fragrant exudation, known in India as "Dikamale resin," is procured from the tops of the branches. It is extensively used in Indian hospitals as a slight dressing for open wounds, to keep away flies from the sores, on account of its strong aroma.
Guaiacum officinale, Lin. A medicinal resin is obtained from the stem of this tree, called lignum vitae. It exudes spontaneously, and is partly obtained by extracting with alcohol. The resin is obtained most copiously by wounding the tree, which is usually done in May. Another method is by heat. The trunk and larger limbs being sawn into billets of about three feet in length, an angular hole is bored lengthwise in each, and one end of the billets so placed on a fire that a calabash may receive the melted resin, which runs through the hole as the wood burns. It is also obtained in small quantities by boiling chips or shavings of wood in water, with common salt. The resin swims on the top and may be skimmed off.
The resin is inside reddish or greenish-brown, brittle, gray-white when pulverized, turns greenish in the air, has a balsamic odor and a sweetish bitter taste, which is at the same time acrid and irritating to the throat. The resin is chiefly used in gout, chronic rheumatism, etc. A decoction of the capsules, wood or bark is also used in medicine as a sudorific. A tincture made of the resin diluted with water is used to cleanse the mouth, strengthen the gums and relieve the toothache.
The British imports are small, seldom exceeding thirty or forty packages in a year. The guaiacum in tears is supposed to be the product of G. sanctum, Lin.
Humirium floribundum, Mart. This plant, in Brazil, yields from its trunk, when wounded, a fragrant, limpid, pale-yellow balsam, called Umiri, possessing the same medicinal qualities as Balsam of Copaiva. It is used by the natives for gonorrhoea, chronic cystitis, bronchitis, and all diseases attended with excessive secretion. A decoction of the bark is used as a remedy for coughs and derangement of the stomach. Another species, H. balsamiferum, Aubl., yields a similar balsam in Guiana.
Hymenaea Courbasil, Lin. A fine, transparent, fragant gum-resin exudes from this tree. In solution it has been given internally in doses of a teaspoonful for rheumatic and pseudo-syphilitic complaints, and employed externally as an embrocation. In Brazil the resin is mixed with sugar and rum, so as to make an agreeable emulsion or syrup, which is administered in tedious coughs, weakness of the lungs, spitting of blood and incipient phthisis pulmonalis. A decoction of the inner bark is said to act as a vermifuge.
Icica Tacamahaca, Kth. The fragrant, bitter resin of the above species is used in Brazil for making ointments. Another Tacamahaca from Elaphrium tomentosa, Jacqu., fetches in Mexico $l a pound. The resin of Icica heptaphylla, Aubl., in Venezuela, takes the properties of Thus. When liquid it is a valuable remedy for coughs. A decoction of the bark is an emetic in fevers. The Calophyllum Calaba, Lin., yields East Indian Tacamahaca.
Icica icicariba, DeC., produces a great deal of the resin passing under the name of "Almaciga," which is much used in medicine and the arts. It is found in the provinces of Maranham, Para and Amazon, in Brazil. Another Icica, known as "Pave de brea," also furnishes it in the same provinces. Some of the resin known as Almaciga is said to be furnished by Bursera balsamifera, Pers., Hedwigia balsamifera, Sw., and is aromatic like incense. Elemi proper is from I. icicariba, DeC., and I. aracouchini, Aubl., but is often replaced by the resin of other species of the same genus. The odorous resin which exudes from the trunk, gives off, in burning, a lively, agreeable odor. This is used as incense in the churches of French Guiana, It is sometimes used medicinally as balsam of Araconchi, but there is little demand for it in commerce. On wounding the bark of the Jamaica birch (Bursera gummifera, Jacq.), a white, resinous sap exudes, which soon hardens and is in no way different from gum Elemi.
Elaphrium Jacquinianum and E. elemiferum, natives of Mexico, also produce a fragrant balsamic, glutinous resin, which furnishes one of the sorts of Elemi. Elemi is very friable, and, when heated, puffs up and melts. In boiling water it agglomerates without melting; slightly soluble in ether, insoluble in acetic acid and caustic soda, slightly soluble in carbonic sulphide, soluble in turpentine, slightly soluble in boiling linseed oil, benzine and oil of naphtha. Sulphuric acid dissolves it, coloring it a dark bistre; nitric acid colors it a dirty yellow without dissolving it, and ammonia does not act upon it. What is known as Manila elemi is believed to be a resinous exudation from Canarium commune, Lin. In burning, elemi gives out a lively and agreeable odor, hence it is used for incense in some churches.