This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Balsamum Copaiva Pharm. Lond. Balsamum copaibae Pharm. Edinb. Balsamum brasiliense. Balsam of copaiba or capivi: a liquid resinous juice, obtained from a large tree of the same name, (Copaiba braziliensibus Marcg. Arbor balsamifera braziliensis fructu monospermo Raii hist. Copaifera officinalis Linn.) which grows spontaneously in the woods of Brazil, and has been lately introduced into some of the British American islands. The balsam is extracted by making deep incisions in the trunk of the tree, in the middle of the summer heats: if no juice flows, the wounds are for a time closed up. It is said, that at the proper season, several pounds of balsam issue in an hour or two; that one tree yields in all five or six gallons; but that after once bleeding, it never affords more.
The juice, as it issues from the tree, is limpid and colourless, like the distilled oil of turpentine. As brought to us, it is usually of a pale yellowish hue, and about the consistence of oil olive or a little thicker: by long keeping, it grows nearly as thick as honey, but has not been observed, like molt of the other resinous juices, to grow solid or dry. In all its states of consistency, it continues clear and transparent.
We sometimes find in the shops, under the name of copaiba, a thick, whitish, almost opake balsam, with a quantity of turbid watery liquor at the bottom. This sort, probably, is either adulterated by the mixture of other sub-stances, or has been extracted, by boiling in water, from the bark or branches of the tree. It is much less grateful than the genuine balsam.
intense, but durable in the mouth. It has been employed principally, and preferably to the other balsams, in gleets, the fluor albus, and in ulcerations of the urinary passages and the lungs. Fuller says, he has known dry deep coughs, coughing up of blood and pus, voiding of chyle instead of urine, with great pains and weakness, cured by it; and that, notwithstanding the manifest warmth and bitterness of its taste, he has found it to agree in hectic cases: he observes that it gives the urine a bitter taste, but not a violet smell as the turpentines do, and that if taken in doses of two or three drams, it proves like them, purgative. The usual dose is from ten to thirty or forty drops*(aj.
* It has been employed empirically in haemorrhoidal cases in doses of from twenty to forty drops once or twice a day, mixed with powdered sugar, and Dr. Cullen has frequently found it give relief.
This balsam, agitated with water, in some degree unites with it, and renders the liquor turbid and milky, but soon separates and rises to the surface on Handing. Dropt on sugar, or triturated with thick mucilages, or with whites or yolks of eggs, it becomes more permanently miscible with water into an uniform milky liquid: it is generally taken either in this form, or mixed with powdery and other matters into a bolus or electary. It mingles with oils, easily with the distilled, more difficultly with the gross ones obtained by expression. It dissolves in rectified spirit of wine into a transparent liquor, of a fragrant smell, more agreeable than that of the balsam itself.
* (a) For a censure of this practice, and of the use of the other balsams and resins in consumptive cases, fee a paper of Dr. Fothergill's in Vol. IV. of the Loud. Med. Observ. and Inq.
Distilled with water, it yields nearly half its weight of an essential oil, which when newly drawn is limpid, but by age grows yellowish: the part of the balsam, which remains behind in the still, is a tenacious inodorous resin, of a yellowish colour inclining to green. The resin dissolves in rectified spirit more easily than the entire balsam; the oil more difficultly, requiring, as Hoffman observes, near four times its weight of the menstruum, whereas the balsam will dis-solve in twice its weight or less.
The balsam, distilled in a retort, without addition, by a fire gradually raised, gives over first a light yellow oil, smelling considerably of the juice; then a darker coloured oil, and afterwards a fine blue one, both which are of a very pungent taste, and have little other than an empyreumatic flavour, though not of a very ungrateful kind*