Abies canadensis. Hemlock spruce.

Botanical name: 

Also see: Abies balsamea. Balm of Gilead. - Abies canadensis. Hemlock spruce. - Abies excelsa. Norway Pine. - Abies larix. Larch. - Abies nigra. Black spruce. Double spruce. - Abies picea. Silver pine.

Nat. Ord. — Pinaceae. Sex. Syst. — Monoecia Monadelphia.

The prepared concrete juice, Canada pitch, Gum hemlock.

Description. — This tree sometimes attains the hight of eighty feet, with a trunk two or three feet in diameter. The leaves are very numerous, about half an inch in length, linear, flat, obtuse, denticulate, and irregularly arranged in two rows. The cones or strobiles, are oval, of few scales, pendulous, about three-quarters of an inch long, and terminal or at the ends of the branches.

History. — The foliage of this tree is delicate, bright green above, and silvery- white underneath. Hemlock Spruce is abundant in Canada, Nova Scotia, and the elevated and mountainous regions of New England and the Middle States. Its timber is very coarse-grained, and its bark contains an astringent principle, and is much used for tanning purposes. The pitch or juice exudes spontaneously, and hardens upon the bark, from which it is obtained by boiling fragments of the bark thus incrusted, in water, and skimming off the pitch which rises to the surface. A second boiling still further purifies it.

Canada Pitch is hard, brittle, quite opake, of a dark yellowish brown color, which becomes still darker by exposure to the air; of a weak, peculiar odor, and scarcely any taste. It softens and becomes adhesive with a moderate heat, and melts at 198° F. It consists of resin, and a small portion of essential oil.

Properties and Uses. — Gum Hemlock is a gentle rubefacient, and is sometimes employed for the same purposes as Burgundy pitch, which it resembles in its properties. The tincture of the hemlock pitch is diuretic and stimulant. The volatile oil, oil of hemlock, has been used to produce abortion, but it is dangerous. As a liniment, this oil has been used in croup, rheumatism, and other affections requiring a stimulating local application. The essence of hemlock is diuretic and stimulant; Dr. W. K. Everson states it to be a superior remedy in gastric irritation, to allay vomiting in cholera-morbus, etc.; the dose is five or ten drops in water, every ten or twenty minutes, until relief is afforded. I have found the following preparation very beneficial as an internal agent, in rheumatism, colic, flatulency, acid-stomach, pains or soreness of the chest or stomach, languor, depression of spirits, hysterics, pyrosis, and many other chronic and painful affections. Take of Balsam Tolu, Gum Guaiacum, Gum Hemlock, Gum Myrrh, of each, coarsely powdered, two ounces, Oil of Hemlock three ounces, Oil of Wintergreen two ounces, Alcohol one gallon. Mix and allow them to macerate for two weeks, frequently agitating. The dose is a fluidrachm in half a wineglass of sweetened water ; or in severe cases, it may be increased to half an ounce. I have employed this preparation for several years, and can confidently recommend it to the profession as an effectual agent in the above disorders. A strong decoction of the bark of this tree is beneficial in leucorrhea, prolapsus-uteri, diarrhea, etc., administered internally, and used in enema; it is likewise of service, as a local application, in gangrene.

The American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854, was written by John King, M. D.