1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Galbanum

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GALBANUM (Heb. Helbenāh; Gr. χαλβάνη), a gum-resin, the product of Ferula galbaniflua, indigenous to Persia, and perhaps also of other umbelliferous plants. It occurs usually in hard or soft, irregular, more or less translucent and shining lumps, or occasionally in separate tears, of a light-brown, yellowish or greenish-yellow colour, and has a disagreeable, bitter taste, a peculiar, somewhat musky odour, and specific gravity of 1.212. It contains about 8% of terpene; about 65% of a resin which contains sulphur; about 20% of gum; and a very small quantity of the colourless crystalline substance umbelliferone, C9H6O3. Galbanum is one of the oldest of drugs. In Exodus xxx. 34 it is mentioned as a sweet spice, to be used in making of a perfume for the tabernacle. Hippocrates employed it in medicine, and Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxiv. 13) ascribes to it extraordinary curative powers, concluding his account of it with the assertion that “the very touch of it mixed with oil of spondylium is sufficient to kill a serpent.” The drug is occasionally given in modern medicine, in doses of from five to fifteen grains. It has the actions common to substances containing a resin and a volatile oil. Its use in medicine is, however, obsolescent.