The Concrete Juice of an Unknown Plant.
History. — The plant from which the gum-resin Galbanum is obtained, is unknown ; various plants have at different times been supposed to afford it, but as there is no certainty in relation to the subject, it is scarcely necessary to refer to them. Galbanum is brought from the Levant, and from India. It is generally in masses of whitish, reddish, or yellowish tears, irregularly agglutinated by a darker colored yellowish-brown, or greenish substance, more or less translucent, of a peculiar, disagreeable odor, and a bitterish, warm, and acrid taste. Sometimes, though rarely, it has been obtained in the state of distinct roundish tears, about the size of a pea, of a yellowish-white or pale brownish-yellow color, shining externally, and translucent. In cool weather, galbanum has the consistence of wax ; in summer it softens, and is rendered ductile and adhesive by the heat of the hand. As it is generally mixed with pieces of stalks, seeds, or other foreign matters, it should be melted and strained previous to using it. Its specific gravity is 1.212. It is soluble in diluted alcohol ; when triturated with water, wine or vinegar, it forms an imperfect, not permanent, milky solution. Alcohol dissolves all except the gum. Diluted alcohol is its proper solvent. Ether dissolves the resin and volatile oil, leaving all the gum. It consists of resin, soluble gum, bassorin, volatile oil, traces of supermalate of lime, and some impurities. The volatile oil obtained by distillation with water, is colorless, odoriferous, and becomes yellowish by age; it is lighter than water.
A dark-brown or blackish color, permanent softness, the absence of whitish grains, a deficiency in odor and taste, and a large amount of impurities in connection with the gum-resin, are signs of inferiority.
Properties and Uses. — Stimulant, expectorant, and antispasmodic. Used in chronic affections of the bronchial mucous membrane, amenorrhea, and chronic rheumatism. Externally, employed in the form of plaster to indolent tumors, and in tincture to scrofulous ophthalmia, and irritability or weakness of the eyes. Dose, from ten to twenty grains, in pill, or triturated with water, sugar, and gum arabic. It is less energetic than assafoetida, and seems to hold a middle place between this and ammoniac, so far so relates to activity.