Notes on some Saps and Secretions used in Pharmacy, cont'd.
Pterocarpus marsupium, Roxb, The reddish gum, resin which exudes from the bark of this tree forms one of the best kinos of commerce, containing about 75 per cent. of tannic acid, and has been known in Europe for upwards of a century. It is the dried sap which exudes copiously, on the stem being artificially wounded. It becomes brittle on hardening, and is very astringent. It is exported in considerable quantities from Malabar. Another kind of kino is from Butea frondosa. Nearly all the Australian Eucalypti exude astringent gum resins in considerable quantity, resembling Kino in appearance and property. Kino is commonly used in medicine for its astringent properties, especially in diarrhoea, chronic dysentery and other such cases.
P. Santalinus, Lin.—The essential oil of nosandus wood, or "sandalwood," as it is sometimes called, is prescribed for gonorrhoea. This tree also yields a kind of dragon's blood.
Rhus Metopium, Lin.—This tree is known in the West Indies as the false hog gum tree. From the bark, when wounded, a transparent juice exudes, which is used on plasters as a substitute for Burgundy pitch, also in medicine as a substitute for balsam of copaiba. The milky juice of some other species of Rhus, especially of R. radicans, Lin., a variety of R. Toxicodendron, Michx , is exceedingly poisonous.
Saccharum officinarum, Lin.—One-half of the sugar now made in the world is produced from beet root, which, however well prepared, is inferior to that obtained from the sap of the sugar cane. The latter alone is prescribed in the Pharmacopoeias; it is demulcent, given in catarrhal affections, in the form of candy, syrup, etc. It is also employed in pharmacy to render oils miscible with water, and enters into the composition of several mixtures and pills, and all the confections, syrups and lozenges.
Molasses is the drainage from raw or muscovado sugar. It is sometimes sold as "golden syrup." Treacle, which is darker and thicker, is that which drains from refined sugar in the moulds. Treacle is slightly laxative, and is used in pharmacy to give cohesiveness to pill masses. To persons disposed to dyspepsia and bilious habits, sugar in excess becomes more hurtful than otherwise. Sugar, when concentrated, is highly antiseptic, and, from a knowledge of its possessing this principle, it is frequently employed in the preservation of vegetable, animal and medicinal substances. In cases of poisoning by copper, arsenic, or corrosive sublimate, sugar has been successfully employed as an antidote; and white sugar finely pulverized is occasionally sprinkled upon ulcers with unhealthy granulations.
Salix tetrasperma, Roxb.—At the commencement of the hot season in India, the upper surface of the leaves of this tree are occasionally covered with a sugary exudation, which dries up in thin white flakes to a sugar or manna. The same trees often yield this exudation several years in succession, but it appears to be confined to a few trees and is not common. Two or three other species of Salix have also been observed to yield a saccharine exudation—S. fragilis, in Persia; S. Chilensis, in Chili, and a species in the Punjab.
Styrax benzoin, Dryand.; Benzoin officinalis, Hayne; Lithocarpus Benzoin, Blume.—Benzoin, known in commerce as "Gum Benjamin" is an odoriferous or balsamic gum resin, an exudation from the stem of trees in Siam and Sumatra, and imported in small chests of 2 ½ cwts. These two qualities are chiefly used in medicine; the one in tears from Siam, and the other, in agglutinated masses from the far East. The former is the purest and has the strongest odor. Its medicinal properties are stimulant, expectorant and styptic. It is used also in perfumery, for incense, and in making aromatic pastilles, coating court-plaster and for healing wounds.
The imports into London were, in 1891: 3,464 chests; 1892, 2,655 chests; and in 1893, 3,163 chests. Benzoin was formerly employed in chronic bronchitis and dysentery, but is now chiefly used in the tincture known as "friar's balsam," as a styptic and stimulant to wounds and old ulcers. Benzoic acid is stimulant and diuretic, and also a valuable antiseptic.
Tabashur, a word of Sanscrit origin; Tavakshiri meaning cow's milk. This secretion is procured from the joints, or internodes, of the female bamboo, Bambuso arundinacea, W. It so far resembles silex as to form a kind of glass when fused with alkalies. It is also unaffected by fire and acids. It is called "bamboo salt," and is employed medicinally in the East as a tonic and astringent in the cure of all sorts of paralytic complaints, flatulencies and poisons. This hydrate of alumina is often found in the soil where a plantation of bamboos has been burnt. P. Smith gives the following analysis of its composition:
|Peroxide of iron||0.90|
Beesha Rhudii, Kunth. (Melocanna bambusoides, Tim.), yields more or less of the Tabashur; sometimes, it is said, the cavity is nearly filled with this silicious crystallization.
Toluifera balsamum, Lin.; Myroxylon Toluifera, H. B. K.; Myrospermum toluiferum, A. Rech.—There are many other synonyms of this tree.
There is great confusion yet as to the origin of the two balsams, Peru and Tolu. The exudation known as "balsam of Tolu" is obtained by incisions in the trunk. When in the first state it is thickish, yellow, becomes slowly darker and solid, and has a very pleasant odor and an agreeable taste. It is chiefly obtained in New Granada, and exudes only from the tree during the heat of the day. The tree inhabits the mountains and banks of the River Magdalena. The balsam, which contains cinnamic acid, is used as a stimulant expectorant, and for flavoring by confectioners and perfumers. It is largely imported into the United States, the imports averaging 42,000 pounds in the three years ending 1890. In the form of lozenges it is a popular and agreeable remedy for appeasing troublesome coughs, and gives a pleasant odor to lip salve,
Toluifera Pereirae (Roxb.) Baillon; Myroxlon peruiferum, Lin. fil.; Myrospermum Salvatoriense.—This balsam tree, like Tolu, has received many synonyms from different authors. The balsam is a beautiful tree, averaging 100 feet in height and 20 inches in diameter. It grows almost exclusively on the coast of Salvador, comprised by the southern shores of the departments of Sonsonate and Libertad. It is known locally as quinquino, or white balsam, when first obtained, but this name is also given to a balsam from the pressed fruit. It is a transparent deep reddish brown, or black liquid, similar in color and consistence to dark molasses, smells vanilla-like, but somewhat empyreumatic, tastes a little bitter, sharp and burning.
There are two methods of extracting the liquid. The first consists in scraping the skin of the bark to the depth of one-tenth of an inch with a sharp machete in small spaces some twelve to fifteen inches square, all along the trunk and stout branches of the trees. Immediately after this operation, the portions scraped are heated with burning torches made out of the dried branches of a tree, and after this pieces of old cotton cloth are spread on the warmed and half-charred bark. By punching the edges of the cloth against the tree with the point of the machete, they are made to adhere. In this condition they are left for twenty-four and even forty-eight hours, when the rags are gathered and submitted to a decoction in large iron pots. After this the rags are subjected, while still hot, to great pressure in an Indian machine made of strong ropes and wooden levers worked by hand. The balsam oozes out and falls into a receptacle, where it is allowed to cool. This is called raw balsam. To refine it they boil it again and drain it, after which they pack it in iron cans ready for market. The other method of extracting balsam consists in entirely barking the trunk and heavy branches of the tree, a process which, as a rule, kills it outright, and at best renders it useless for several years. The bark is finely ground, boiled and submitted to pressure in order to extract the oil, which is considered of an inferior quality to that obtained by the system first described. Both methods are defective, but the latter is ruinous, and is forbidden by the authorities. The name of "Peruvian balsam" was given to this article because it was first sent from Salvador to Peru, in the time of the Spaniards, and from Callao reshipped to England.
About 6,000 pounds of the balsam go to the United States annually. Thirty years ago, many thousand pounds of it were received in England, but the imports there rarely exceed now 2,000 pounds. It is a warm and stimulating tonic and expectorant, useful in chronic catarrh, asthma and other pectoral complaints and rheumatism. Externally it is much used in Europe, in the treatment of scabies, as being equally effective, and more agreeable than sulphur in its application.
The balsams of Tolu and Peru are employed occasionally medicinally in the state of syrup or tincture, particularly in cough mixtures; their fragrance also renders them pleasant adjuncts to chocolate, liqueurs and other articles.
Balsam of Peru is seldom met with in commerce unadulterated. The best test is its specific gravity, which ought to be between 1.14 and 1.16. The difficulty of taking the specific gravity is best overcome by making a solution of one part of chloride of sodium in five parts of water, the specific gravity of which is 1.125. In this liquor a drop of Peru balsam, if pure, ought to sink down. (Other tests were given in Vol. 66, p 100.)
Uncaria Gambir, Roxb. Nauclea Gambir, Hunter.—This plant yields the extract known as pale catechu in pharmacy, which is largely imported into Europe from Singapore, under the commercial name of Gambier, and frequently under the old erroneous designation of "Terra japonica." It is like cutch, a powerful astringent, useful chiefly in diarrhoea. Lozenges are said to be the best medium of administering it in relaxed condition of the throat, uvula and tonsils, in sponginess of the gums, salivation, etc. They may be employed in pyrosis and other cases in which astringents are indicated. This extract contains only about half the astringent matter of that obtained from the trunk of Acacia Catechu. (Tests to determine the two are given, Vol. 66, p. 105.).
The exports from Singapore average over 40,000 tons, of which more than half comes to England, to be chiefly used by tanners and dyers, and about 13,000 tons to the United States.
Unona Narum, Dun.; Uvaria Narum, Bl.; U. Zeylanica, Lam.— A greenish, sweet-smelling oil; is obtained in Malabar by distilling the roots of this evergreen climber, which is used medicinally as a stimulant in rheumatism. The seeds are carminative.
Vateria indica, Lin.; Elaeocarpus copallinus, Retz.—The resin from this tree is the white dammar, or Indian copal, known also as "piney varnish." Under the influence of gentle heat, it combines with wax and oil, and forms an excellent resinous ointment.
Xanthorrhoea Tatei, Mueller.—This, one of the largest of the so-called "Australian grape trees," furnishes the "black-boy gum," a balsamic resin of a bright yellow color and pleasant fragrant odor, when burned as incense. It is used for the manufacture of sealing wax, and picric acid (which it yields in large percentages), and for varnishes. It is also known as "gum acroides." It tastes slightly astringent and aromatic, like storax or benzoin, containing benzoic and cinnamic acids. This resin is also commercially obtained from X. resinosa, Persoon; X. quadrangulata, Mueller, of South Australia; X. Preissic, Endlicher, of West Australia, and X. hastilis, and X. Australis, R. Brown, of New South Wales.