Sagapenum. Ferula persica.
Sagapenum.—This gum-resin, formerly highly esteemed, but at present very rarely met with even in Eastern commerce, is the concrete juice of a Persian plant. Ferula Persica Willd. (Fam. Umbelliferae), related to those that yield galbanum. It is in irregular masses, composed of agglutinated fragments, slightly translucent, of a brownish-yellow, olive, or reddish-yellow color externally, paler internally, brittle, of a consistence somewhat resembling that of wax, and often mixed with impurities, especially with seeds more or less entire. An inferior variety is soft, tough, and of uniform consistence. It has an alliaceous odor less disagreeable than that of asafetida, and a hot, nauseous, bitterish taste. It softens and becomes tenacious by the heat of the hand. The effect of time and exposure is to harden and render it darker. It is inflammable, burning with a white flame and much smoke, and leaving a light spongy charcoal. Pure alcohol and water dissolve it partially, diluted alcohol almost entirely. Distilled with water it affords a small quantity of volatile oil, and the water is strongly impregnated with its flavor. According to Tschirch (Harze und Harzbehalter, 229), it contains 23.3 per cent. of gum; 19.2 per cent. of essential oil, containing sulphur; and 57.5 per cent. of a resin which is free from sulphur and melts at 74° to 76° C. (165.2°-168.8° F.). The ether soluble resin of sagapenum can be separated by saponification into umbelliferone and sagaresitannol, C24H27O4.OH. This latter yields on oxidation oxypicric acid. The oil is pale yellow, very fluid, lighter than water, and of a disagreeable alliaceous odor. Sagapenum was formerly used in doses of from ten to thirty grains (0.65-2.0 Gm.) in amenorrhea, hysteria, etc.; also externally in plasters as a discutient.