This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics: An Introduction to the National Treatment of Disease", by John Mitchell Bruce. Also available from Amazon: The pharmacology and therapeutics of the materia medica.
A gum-resin, derived from an unascertained umbelliferous plant (said to be Ferula galbaniflua). Imported from India and the Levant.
Characters. - In irregular tears, about the size of a pea, usually agglutinated into masses; of a greenish-yellow colour, translucent; having a strong disagreeable odour, and an acrid bitter taste.
Substances resembling Galbanum: Ammoniacum, Assafoetida, Benzoin; known by odour.
Composition. - Galbanum contains 3 to 6 per cent. of volatile oil, isomeric with turpentine, C10Hl6, gum, and a mixture of resins, which yield by dry distillation a blue oil, and umbel-liferon, in colourless, tasteless, odourless, satiny crystals.
Preparations. Emplastrum Galbani. - 1 in 11.
Galbanum is also an ingredient of Pilula Assafoetidae Composita. 1 in 3 1/2. See Assafoetida, page 252.
Galbanum acts and is used much like assafoetida and ammoniacum, and is always given with either of these substances.
Ammoniacum - Ammoniacum. - A gum-resinous exudation from Dorema Ammoniacum. Collected in Persia and the Punjaub.
Characters. - In tears or masses; the tears from two to eight lines in diameter, pale cinnamon-brown, breaking with a smooth shining opaque white surface; the masses composed of agglutinated tears; hard and brittle when cold, but readily softening with heat. Has a faint odour, and a bitter acrid nauseous taste, Rubbed with water it forms a nearly white emulsion.
Substances resembling Ammoniacum: Assafoetida, Galbanum, Benzoin; known by odour.
Composition. - Ammoniacum contains about 4 per cent. of a volatile oil, 20 per cent. of gum, and 70 per cent of resin. The oil does not contain sulphur. Dose. - 10 to 20 gr.
Emplastrum Ammoniaci Cum Hydrargyro. About 1 in 1 1/4..
(See Hydrargyrum, page 86.)
Mistura Ammoniaci. A milk-like emulsion. 1 in 32 water.
Dose, 1/2 to 1 fl.oz.
The action of ammoniacum closely resembles that of the other aromatics and oleo-resins, hut it is used almost solely for its remote local effects. In being excreted by the bronchial mucosa, it stimulates the surface and disinfects the secretions of the part (see Terebinthinae Oleum, page 343); and it probably acts similarly on the skin. It is used as a disinfectant expectorant in chronic bronchitis with profuse discharge, and as a constituent of plasters intended to strengthen circulation in the skin and promote absorption.
Oleum Anisi - Oil of Anise. - The oil distilled in Europe from the fruit of Pimpinella Anisum. Also the oil distilled in China from the fruit of Illicium anisatum, Star Anise (Magnoliaceae.)
Characters of the fruit. - Half fruits with five filiform equal ridges, the lateral ones being marginal. In each channel are three or more vittae. Thicker and more ovate than caraway fruits.
Characters of the oil. - Colourless or pale yellow, with the familiar odour of anise, and a warm sweetish taste. Concretes at 50o.
Composition. - Oil of aniseed, anethol, or anise-camphor, is composed of two isomeric bodies, the fluid (1/5), and the solid (4/5), anethol.
Dose. - 2 to 5 min.
The action and uses of anise are those of the aromatic oils in general. It is believed, however, to possess specially stimulant action on the bronchial mucosa, like ammoniacum, probably because excreted in part by it. It is therefore a favourite flavouring agent for cough mixtures.