The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Description:  The article galbanum is a foetid gum-resin of the same general class with asafoetida and gum ammoniacum. It has been an article of commerce for many centuries, coming from the Levant and Persia, and apparently procured also from Arabia; but the plant from which it is obtained is still unknown, though seeds and portions of seed-vessels found in the gum-resin, show it to be of the order umbelliferae.  As found in market, it occurs either in pale brownish- yellow tears about the size of a pea, or in irregular lumps of a darker brown color.  It is quite resinous, becomes brittle and pulverulent at low temperatures, and softens at a moderate elevation of heat; and has a disagreeable, foetid odor, and an acrid, pungent, and unpleasant taste. It contains resin in excess, along with gum and a volatile oil.  It is most soluble in alcohol of about fifty percent; stronger grades of alcohol dissolve the resin and leave the gum; and water or vinegar will, by trituration, dissolve the gum and hold a portion of the resin and oil in a milky solution.

Properties and Uses:  This gum-resin resembles asafoetida in its action, but is less stimulant.  It is used for the same purposes as the asafoetida; though it is more unpleasant both to the taste and smell.   It is seldom used internally; but by combining it with  ammoniac  and  beeswax,  a  stimulating  plaster may  be formed, which has been much commended for indolent swellings, chronic pulmonary complaints, and weakness of the back.  The officinal plaster has lead added to it, and hence is objectionable; while the compound plaster of galbanum contains turpentine, Burgundy pitch, and a large excess of lead plaster, on which accounts it is an irritating and reprehensible article.  I fear the agent itself is disposed to produce blisters.

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