Gum, (from the Hebrew chalbanah,) albetad, chalbane, gesor, is the concrete, gummy resinous juice of an evergreen plant, with leaves like those of anise, growing in Syria, the East Indies, and Ethiopia. It is named ferula Africana, oreosilinum Africanum, anisum fruticosum galbaniferum, and anisum Africanum fructicescens and ayborzat; bubon galbanum Lin. Sp. Pl. 364. Lovage leaved bubon. The gum is brought to us in pale coloured, semitransparent, soft, tenacious masses, of different shades, from white to brown: the better sorts, when opened, appear to be-composed of clear whitish tears, often intermixed with stalks or seeds of the plant. It is rather resinous than gummy, and is more completely soluble in alcohol than in water. The former menstruum indeed leaves only the impurities. It hath a strong unpleasant smell and bitterish warm taste, is unctuous to the touch, and softens in the fingers.
4T 2 it has little power, but affords a variety, so requisite in the use of antispasmodics. Galbanum is, however, often useful in a flatulent state of the bowels; and is scarcely inferior to asafoetida, a medicine generally un-pleasing by its smell, and which can be only given with advantage in pills, which many cannot swallow.
A considerable portion of the virtue of galbanum consists in its essential oil, which rises in distillation, either with water or with spirit; and great care is consequently required in purifying it. For inferior purposes, the bestmethod is to expose it in winter to a sharp frost, and while brittle to powder it: thus the impurities may, in some measure, be separated in the searce: for internal uses it is included in a bladder, and kept in hot water until soft enough to be strained by pressure through an hempen cloth.
Besides the essential oil yielded by distillation with water, an empyreumatic oil is obtained by distilling in a retort without mixture. This oil is of a fine blue colour, but changes in the air to a purple.
It is common to spread galbanum on leather, and to apply it to the belly in hysteric disorders, and in spasms following delivery; but asafoetida, with about one third or one quarter of camphor, and as much opium, is preferable. See Neumann's Chemical Works. Lewis's Materia Medica. Cullen's Materia Medica.
The college of physicians order the following tincture:
Take of galbanum, cut into small pieces, two ounces; proof spirit of wine, two pints; digest with a gentle heat for eight days, and strain. They consider it as a warm antispasmodic, promising to be of service in flatulency, hysteria, and the asthmatic complaints of old people. Pharm. Lond. 1788. If decanted, it is a more powerful medicine; for the finer parts of the galbanum are suspended, and while the medicine is thus strengthened, the elegance of composition is not affected, as on mixture with water it becomes milky. If rectified spirit is employed, about one third of the dose will be sufficient. Externally, galbanum has been applied to expedite the suppuration of indolent tumours; and as a warm stimulating plaster. For the first purpose the following is often successful.
Cataplasma galbani compositum. Rad. lilii albi iv. caricarum i. rad. cepae vulgaris contusae i. ss. gummi galbani ss. Radix lilii et caricae coquantur, et simul contundantur; postea radix cepae adjiciatur, et denuo galbanum vitello ovi solutum.