Galbanum. a gum resin obtained from India and the Levant. The plant which produces it is not known with certainty, but it is probably a species of ferula, a genus of the order umbel-liferoe. The drug is imported in massive lumps of irregular shapes, apparently made up of agglutinated tears. They are brownish yellow, sometimes greenish, the tears sometimes translucent and bluish or pearl white. Its consistency in cold weather is that of wax; in warm weather it is soft and adhesive, and at 212° F. it can be strained, a process requisite to separate the stems and other impurities with which it is commonly mixed. When quite cold it is brittle and may be pulverized. The taste of galbanum is bitterish, hot, and acrid, and its odor balsamic, peculiar, and disagreeable. It is wholly soluble in dilute alcohol; less so in ether. Its specific gravity is 1212; and its composition, by the analysis of Meissner, is as follows: resin, 65.8; gum, 22'6; bassorin, 1.8; volatile oil, 3.4; bitter matter with malic acid, 0.2; vegetal remains, 2.8; water, 2; loss, 1.4; total, 100. An essential oil is obtained by distillation, of a fine indigo blue, which it imparts to alcohol. Varieties of galbanum of somewhat ditferent qualities are occasionally met with.
Galbanum is rarely used medicinally as an internal remedy, though it possesses stimulant, expectorant, and antispasmodic properties, on account of which it is sometimes prescribed in catarrhs, chronic rheumatism, etc. Its most useful application is in the form of a plaster, alone or in combination with other substances, to produce a mild degree of counter-irritation. When given internally the dose is from 5 to 16 grs., which may be administered in the form of pills, or made into an emulsion with gum arabic, sugar, water, and the like.