The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
TRAGACANTH, GUM DRAGON
Description: Natural Order, Leguminosae. A small shrub, native to Asia Minor, Armenia, and Northern Persia. Branches covered with imbricate scales and spines; leaves of eight to ten pairs of linear pinnae; flowers in axillary clusters of two to five, yellow, sessile, small; legume two-celled, dorsal suture turning inward. Two to three feet high. Several species and varieties are found.
The medicinal portion of this plant is a gummy exudation, generally obtained by making longitudinal incisions through the bark, at the lower part of the stem, during July and August. The gum dries in white, semi-circular flakes, and is gathered after three or four days. Changes in the weather give it a yellowish or reddish tinge, but without materially altering its qualities. It is insoluble in alcohol; cold water causes it to swell up in a large and dense gelatinous mass, but does not dissolve it; boiling water dissolves only a very small portion. It is without taste or smell.
Properties and Uses: The strained mucilage is occasionally used as a vehicle for exhibiting very active and dense powders. Its most common employment is as a basis for medicated troches and lozenges, for which its density well adapts it. Druggists generally use it as their label paste; for which purpose four drachms may be macerated in a pint of cold water, and more water added as required.
Pharmaceutical Preparations: I. Mucilage. Macerate five scruples of selected gum in ten ounces of boiling distilled water, for twenty-four hours; triturate, and strain by pressure through open muslin. In this form it is used in the preparation of troches and pills, and the exhibition of powders. A little rectified spirit may be added without causing any deposit. II. Compound Powder. Select one ounce of the best flakes, dry them for several hours at a heat of 120E, and pulverize them in a warm mortar. Triturate with this one ounce each of powdered starch and gum arabic, and three ounces of sugar. It makes a pleasant mucilage, when saturated with water, during the treatment of gastric and intestinal irritation, or for the exhibition of such powders as capsicum, myrrh, etc.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com