Bdellium.—Under this name have been included various gum resins having little or nothing in common. The commercial Bdelliums are naturally divided into the Indian and the African, but E. M. Holmes, in an elaborate study (P. J., lxi), recognizes five commercial varieties of African Bdellium—namely,
- Perfumed Bdellium, which is believed to be collected in Northeastern Africa;
- African Bdellium;
- Opaque Bdellium;
- Hotai Bdellium from the Somaliland, and
- A non-aromatic acrid gum resin.
Perfumed Bdellium, or Babaghadi, closely resembles in appearance Somali myrrh, but has a less bitter, more acrid and peculiar taste which distinguishes it at once from myrrh. African Bdellium, proper, occurs in hard, roundish pieces, of a pale to dark grayish-brown color with a resinous unstreaked fracture, dotted with glistening points. The odor is said to recall that of cedar wood; the taste is slightly acrid but not bitter. Opaque Bdellium is of a pale brown color and has a bitter, slightly acrid taste and cedar-like odor; it occurs in tough, roundish pieces about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter. Hotai Resin resembles opaque bdellium, but is distinguished by its lack of odor, its slightly soapy taste, and its brittleness. These four bdelliums of Holmes are for the most part collected in Somaliland. They are the product of different species of Commiphora, small trees or large shrubs which suggest in appearance the English hawthorn. The species are by Holmes divided into four groups. (See P. J., lxxii.) According to A. Engler, the resin of Commiphora roxburghiana (Stocks) Engl. is the commercial Gugul, or India Bdellium, which is employed in the East Indies as a remedy for leprosy, rheumatism, and syphilis. Bdellium sometimes cornea mixed with gum arabic and gum Senegal. It is either in small roundish pieces, of a reddish color, semi-transparent, and brittle, with a wax-like fracture, or in large irregular lumps, of a dark brownish-red color, less transparent, somewhat tenacious, and adhering to the teeth when chewed. It has an odor and taste like that of myrrh, but weaker. It is infusible and inflammable, diffusing while it burns a balsamic odor. According to Pelletier, it consists of 59 per cent. of resin, 9.2 of gum, 30.6 of bassorin, and 1.2 of volatile oil, including loss. In medicinal properties it is analogous to myrrh, and was formerly used for the same purposes. In Europe it is still occasionally employed in plasters. The dose is from ten to forty grains (0.65-2.6 Gm.).