Galbanum. Ferula galbaniflua.
Galbanum. Br. 1898. Gummi-Resina Galbanum. Galbanum, Fr. Cod. Galbanum, P. G. Galban, Mutterharz, G. Galbano, It., Sp.—"A gum-resin obtained from Ferula galbaniflua, Boiss. and Buhse, and probably from other species." Br., 1898. This gum resin was not admitted to the British Pharmacopoeia, 1914. It was also formerly official in the U. S. Pharmacopoeia, but was dropped in the 1890 revision. There has been some confusion as to the plant yielding galbanum. It is fairly well established now through the studies of the German traveller, F. A. Buhse, that it is a species of Ferula. He stated that in 1848 he met with the galbanum plant on the declivities of the Demavend, near the southern coast of the Caspian. He saw the gum-resin exuding spontaneously from the plant, and was informed by the natives that the drug was collected from it. The plant is the F. galbaniflua Bossier and Buhse. Buhse also stated that the Persian galbanum is yielded by a second plant, which is doubtfully distant from F. galbaniflua, the F. rubricaulis Boissier. Schumann considers this identical with F. galbaniflua. Holmes is of the opinion (P. J., 1891, 194) that "Levant" galbanum is yielded by Ferula galbaniflua, and its variety ß-Ancheri; that solid "Persian" comes possibly from F. Schair Borscz, while the liquid "Persian," judging from the fruits found in it, derived from an undescribed species allied to F. galbaniflua. It would appear that all the varieties of galbanum of commerce come through Persia. Galbanum is said to be obtained by making incisions into the stem, or cutting it off a short distance above the root. A cream-colored juice exudes, which concretes upon exposure to the air. A portion of juice also exudes spontaneously from the joints, and hardens in the shape of tears.
Galbanum usually appears in the form of masses composed of whitish, reddish, or yellowish tears, from the size of a pin's head to that of a pea and larger, irregularly agglutinated by a darker colored yellowish-brown or greenish substance, more or less translucent, and generally mixed with pieces of stems, seeds, or other foreign matters. It is also found, though rarely, in our markets, in the state of distinct roundish tears, about as large as a pea, of a yellowish-white or pale brownish-yellow color, shining externally as if varnished, translucent, and often adhering together. Galbanum has in cool weather the consistence of firm wax, but softens in summer, and by the heat of the hand is rendered ductile and adhesive. At 180° C. (212° F.) it is sufficiently liquid to admit of straining, and it generally requires to be strained before it can be used. It is of a dark-brown or blackish color, and of a soft consistence. The absence of whitish grains, a deficiency in the characteristic odor and taste, and the intermixture of earthly impurities are signs of inferiority. According to Hirschsohm (Ph. Z. R., 1893, 353), galbanum of commerce differs from that formerly found in the market; its consistence is now like that of white turpentine, although the odor is still that of Levant galbanum; the greatest difference is shown in the action of strong acids and solvents on it. (See A. J. P., 1893, 384.)
The odor of galbanum is peculiar and disagreeable; its taste bitterish, warm, and acrid; its sp. gr. 1.212. Triturated with water, it forms an imperfect milky solution, which on standing deposits the greater portion of what was taken up. Wine and vinegar act upon it in a similar manner. Alcohol dissolves a considerable proportion, forming a yellow tincture, which has the odor and taste of galbanum, and becomes milky with water, but affords no precipitate. In diluted alcohol it is wholly soluble, with the exception of impurities, Ether dissolves the greater portion. "When moistened with alcohol, galbanum acquires a purple color on the addition of a little hydrochloric acid." U. S., 1880. According to Conrady, the composition of galbanum is as follows: ethereal oil, 9.5 per cent.; resin, soluble in alcohol, 63.5 per cent.; gum and impurities, 27 per cent. The purified resin was found by Conrady to contain about 20 per cent. of combined umbelliferone, about 0.23 per cent. of free umbelliferone, and about 50 per cent. of galbaresino-tannol. This latter representative of the class of resino-tannols, first established by Tschirch, was proved to have the alcohol character by forming the acetyl and benzoyl derivatives. Conrady also considers that the umbelliferone is combined with this galbaresino-tannol in the form of an ester. The volatile oil which is obtained from galbanum to the extent of about 10 per cent. he found to consist essentially of a hydrocarbon of the formula C10H16, with small amounts of a sesquiterpene, C15H24. The terpene has been identified as d-pinene by the terpin hydrate formation, while the sesquiterpene, according to Wallach, is cadinene, identified by the formation of its chlorhydrate fusing at 117° to 118° C. (242.6° to 244.4° F.). (Gildemeister and Hoffman, Aetherische Oele, p. 753.) When the oil is extracted by solvents it is free from acid reaction, but when distilled with steam it acquires an acid reaction, and notable quantities of iso-valeric acid are developed. These fatty acids are probably bound up as esters in the cold extracted oil. (A. Pharm., ccxxxii (1894), 98.) The crude oil is dextrogyrate. The resin, constituting about 60 per cent., is very soft, and dissolves in ether or in alkaline liquids, even in milk of lime, but only partially in carbon disulphide. When heated with hydrochloric acid for some time, it yields umbelliferone, C9H6O3, which may be dissolved from the acid liquid by means of ether or chloroform, and obtained on evaporation in colorless acicular crystals. The aqueous solution of umbelliferone exhibits, especially on addition of an alkali, a brilliant blue fluorescence, which is destroyed by an acid. If a small fragment of galbanum be immersed in water, a fluorescence will be produced by a drop of ammonia. Asafetida shows the same reaction, but ammoniac does not.
Galbanum submitted to dry distillation yields a thick oil of brilliant blue color. This oil on rectification yields a greenish portion, and then a superb blue oil. Kachler (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., 1871, p. 36) found a colorless oil, C10H16, and a blue oil, C10H16O, boiling at 289° C. (552.2° F.). The blue oil, according to Kachler, after purification, agrees with the blue oil of the flowers of Matricaria Chamomilla. By fusing galbanum resin with potassium hydroxide, Hiasiwetz and Barth (Ann. Ch. Ph., 130, p. 354) obtained resorcinol, together with acetic and volatile fatty acids.
According to Ludewig, a gum-resin, designated as Persian galbanum, is received in Russia by the way of Astrakhan or Orenburg, and is the kind used in that country. It comes enclosed in skins, and is in masses of a reddish-brown color with whitish streaks, of a disagreeable odor, somewhat like that of asafetida, and of an unpleasant bitter, resinous taste. It is so soft as to melt with a slight elevation of temperature. It differs from common galbanum in its odor, in its color, which is never greenish, and in the absence of tears, and is probably derived from a different plant. It abounds .in impurities. This variety of galbanum is probably the same as that obtained by Aitchison in Afghanistan, which on chemical examination yielded—volatile oil, 3.108 per cent.; resin (ether extractive, 61.2, alcohol extractive, 7.576), 68.776; water extractive (gum), 17.028; insoluble matter, 1056. (P. J., Dec. 11, 1886.)
Galbanum was known to the ancients. It is stimulant, expectorant, and antispasmodic, and is considered as intermediate in power between am-' moniac and asafetida. It has chiefly been used in chronic affections of the bronchial mucous membrane, amenorrhea, and chronic rheumatism. It is occasionally applied externally as a plaster to indolent swellings, with the view of promoting resolution or suppuration.
Compound pills of galbanum were official in the British Pharmacopoeia, 1898, under the name of Pilula Galbani Composita, the former name was Pilula Asafoetida Composita and the pills consisted of equal parts of galbanum, asafetida and myrrh, syrup of glucose being used as excipient.
Dose, from ten to twenty grains (0.65 to 1.3 Gm.), given in pill, or triturated with gum araoic, sugar and water, so as to form an emulsion.
Under the name of Zolou root there appears in the Bayrout markets the root of the Ferula Hermonii Boiss. This contains, according to Guiges (P. J., 1906, p. 65) a resin which differs from Galbanum in that it gives with hydrochloric acid a green color, which disappears on heating. It is used by the people of that section as an aphrodisiac.