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Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (p. 87)
arimeda, as, m. a fetid Mimosa, Vachellia Farnesiana, L.; (ās), m. pl., N. of a people, VarBṛS.
Tamil Lexicon, University of Madras (p. 3790)
veḷvēlam: 1. Tamarind-like cutch; 2. Panicled babool, m. tr., Acacia leucophloea
Dymock, Warden, Hooper: Pharmacographia Indica (vol. I, pp. 541-542)
Acacia, several species
Fig.- Gum Arabic (Eng., from African and Arabian acacias)
There appears to be no mention of gum Arabic in Sanskrit works. It was known from a very early date in Egypt as Kami. Dioscorides calls it -*- in his chapter -*-. Pliny mentions Gummi several times. (Plin. 13, 20; 24, 64, 67.) Arabic and Persian writers describe it under the name of Samgh-i-Arabi. The author of the Makhzan gives the following description of what it ought to be: -"The gum of the tree called AmmughilÄn or MughilÄn (Acacia) of a yellowish white colour, shining, and perfectly soluble in water, forming a clear sticky solution." Gum is used medicinally by the Mahometans, who consider it to be pectoral, strengthening and emollient. An account of the history of gum in Europe, and its production in Northern Africa will be found in the Pharmacographia. The gun Arabic of Bombay, known in European commerce as East India gum, is an imported article, and is brought from Aden and the Red Sea ports, no part of it being the produce of India. Two kinds are met within that market, viz., "Maklai," in large round tears or vermicular pieces, white, yellow, or reddish, much like gum Senegal, but more fissured, (it derives its name from the port of Makalla), and "Maswai," in angular fragments and vermicular pieces, fissured, white, yellow or reddish, which derives its name from the port of Massowa. Both of these are good soluble gums, and if carefully sorted not much inferior to Kordofan gum. Both are exported to Europe, and form the East India gum of commerce. About 15,500 cwts. of these gums were annually imported into Bombay, but since the war in the Soudan the imports have much decreased.
Substitutes for Gum Acacia (vol. I, pp. 544-547, 552)
We are indebted to Mr. J. G. Prebble of Bombay for the following:-
The exports of Indian gums for use as substitutes for gum arabic, have during the last few years obtained considerable proportions, and there is every probability of a steady increase due to the improvements in communication between the ports and the interior of the country, and the supplies promise to rival in the near future the large exports of gum from Senegambia. The gums here described include the majority and the most important of those known to be yielded by Indian trees; and most of them have been personally collected by the writer; a few have been kindly forwarded by Mr. Duthie of Saharanpur and some by Mr. Cameron of the Lal Bagh, Bangalore. Nearly all the gums have been examined under the microscope, and in connection with this subject some account should perhaps be given of the recent interesting researches of Beijerinck and Wiesner. All gums were formerly supposed to be the dried mucilaginous sap secreted by the natural or physiological process in the life of the plants yielding them. It was first clearly shown by Mohl, that, in the case of tragacanth, the gum is produced by a metamorphosis of the cell membrane, and that it is not merely the dried secretion of the plant. The investigations of other observers also demonstrated that cherry and some other gums were formed by a similar process, but no information was obtained of the causes, which led to these metamorphosis. The observation of Beijerinck and of Wiesner, however, point to the conclusion that in at least several instances gum is formed by a pathological process brought about by the influence of a fungus, or of a peculiar ferment allied to diastase and termed by Wiesner a "diastatic enzyme," but differing from the ordinary members of the group in that, whilst it converts starch into dextrine, it produces no sugar reducing Trommer's reagent. The diastatic character of the gum was inferred from its behaviour in limiting or preventing the iodine reaction on starch dough. Beijerinck found that by inserting a portion of gum under the edge of a wound in the bark, the formation of gum was induced. The observation that heated or long boiled pieces of gum would not produce this effect, and that wounds made in the bark did not produce gum unless a portion was first introduced into it, led him to suppose that the formation of gum was due to the presence of bacteria or other living organisms. On microscopic investigation it was found that only those pieces of gum that contained spores of a highly organised fungus belonging to the Ascomycetes, had the power of conveying the gum disease or gummosis. The fungus producing the gummosis of species of acacia of Africa has been named Pleospora gummipara, Ondemans. Another fungus, Coryneum Beijerinckii causes the gummosis of the Amygdalae. Beijerinck believes that the fungus produces a fluid of the nature of a ferment, which penetrates the adjacent structures, since the disease extends beyond the part in which any trace of the fungus can be detected. This ferment he believes to act on the cell walls, starch granules, and other constituents of the cells, transforming them into gum, and (Pharm. Journ., 3-14-661 and 3-16-285) even changing into gum the fungus itself. In all the gums examined by the writer, fungus spores were observed, and in many cases gonidial forms and hyphae. These gonidial spores and hyphae vary considerably in the same genera. The hyphae and gonidia found in the gum of Acacia modesta from the Punjab differ in shape and size from the same forms observed in Acacia Farnesiana from Bombay, and the forms occasionally met with in Acacia arabica differ from both. It seems therefore improbable that only one species of fungus produces the gummosis in the tribe acacia as stated by the above observers. That gum has the power of converting starch into dextrine, is readily proved by its action on starch paste, but the statement of Wiesner that whilst it converts starch into dextrine, it produces no sugar reducing Trommer's reagent, I am unable to confirm. In several experiments performed with different gums, a reducing sugar was in every instance abundantly produced, and it is probable that the action of gum on starch is similar to that of diastase, when the hydration products are dextrine and maltose, the proportions of which vary according to the condition of the experiment, especially as regards the temperature employed. With the aid of iodine the gradations in the transformation or hydration of the starch may be easily followed. When the gum and starch paste has been standing a short time, iodine gives a blue or violet coloration, after a longer period some shade of crimson, the erythrodextrine of Gruber, and finally the mixture ceases to give any reaction when the conversion of the starch is then complete. Gum which is permeated with fungus, as that derived from Acacia Farnesiana, has a more rapid action on the starch paste than a gum free or nearly so from fungus as that from Anogeissus latifolia. Acacia Farnesiana gum will convert its own weight of starch, made into paste, in two or three days at the ordinary temperature of Bombay, about 80 degrees of F. At a higher temperature the transformation is quicker.
With regard to the behaviour of gums to reagents too much reliance must not be place upon the reactions, as gums from the same tree often give different results. It is believed, however, that they will often furnish useful indications of the source of a gum, taken in conjunction with their physical and sometimes microscopic characters. The reagent employed are those which have been found most useful for comparative purposes. All the gums, with the exception of the paler samples of Acacia arabica, and a gum said to be yielded by Acacia leucophloea, are gelatinized by basic acetate of lead. Gums or so-called gums from the following plant have been examined: -Feronia elephantum, Aegle marmelos, Melia azadirachta, Cedrela toona, Swietenia mahagoni, Chloroxylon swietenia, Anacardium occidentale, Odina wodier, Spondias mangifera, Poinciana regia, Bauhinia purpurea, Bauhinia variegata, Prosopsis spicigera, Acacia farnesiana, Acacia arabica, Acacia leucophlaea.
Acacia catechu. -The gum occurs mostly in spheroidal tears of a yellow or brown colour, freely soluble in water, forming a thick pale-coloured mucilage not precipitated by neutral acetate of lead, but gelatinizied by basic acetate of lead, ferric chloride, and borax. It freely reduces Fehling's solution.
Acacia modesta, Albizzia procera, Albizzia lebbek, Albizzia odoratissima, Pithecolobium dulce, Pithecolobium saman, Anogeissus latifolia, Terminalia belerica, Aleurites moluccana.
Acacia catechu, Leguminosae (vol. I, pp. 557-559)
Fig.- Catechu tree (Eng.)
Sanskrit writers under the name of Khadira mention two kinds of catechu, dark and pale, both prepared from the wood of the Acacia catechu, and these two kinds are still to be found in common use. The dark acacia catechu is in flat cakes of a dark brown colour and shining fracture, or in square cakes known as box catechu. The light catechu is a porous earthy-looking substance, somewhat lamineted and much more friable than the dark: it is used for chewing with betel leaves and areca nut, while the use of the dark kind is confined to industrial purposes. Dark catechu is made by evaporating a decoction of the wood until it becomes solid; in making the light kind the inspissation is stopped at a certain point, and the catechu is obtained as a deposit upon twigs which are placed in the liquid extract. The Hindus consider catechu to be astringent, cooling, and digestive, useful in relaxed conditions of the throat, mouth and gums, also in cough and diarrhoea. Externally they use it as an astringent and cooling application to ulcers, boils, and eruptions on the skin. A number of compound formulae for its administration will be found in Chakradatta, Sarangadhara, and the Baissajya RatnÄvali. Mahometan writers describe dark and light catechu, and their use in medicine for the purposes already mentioned. An account of the introduction of catechu into Europe will be found in the Pharmacographia. Other kinds of the drug which are imported into India by sea will be found described in the article upon Gambier. The gum of A. catechu has been noticed in the article upon Substitutes for gum arabic. In the Concans the juice of the fresh bark is given with Asafoetida in haemoptysis, and the flowering tops with cummin, milk and sugar in gonorrhoea.
Khersal or Khairsar. -From the wood of Acacia Catechu is obtained a substance which we have not seen any notice of in works on India Materia Medica. Khersal, or natural catechu, is obtained from cavities in the wood, and occurs in small irregular fragments like little bits of very pale catechu mixed with chips of reddish wood. This drug is collected by men who split firewood, and fetches a high price, as it is only occasionally met with; it has a sweetish astringent taste, and under the microscope is seen to be composed of minute needle-shaped crystals. When placed in water the colouring matter of the particles of wood mixed with the drug colour the water red, but the khersal remains undissolved; in boiling water it is completely soluble, but is thrown down in conglomerate masses of small needle-shaped crystals upon the water cooling; it is also soluble in rectified spirit, and is deposited in the same form on the spirit evaporating. In native practice this substance is valued as a remedy in relaxed conditions of the throat.
A similar substance has been brought to our notice by the Conservator of Forests for Malabar. It is a yellow crystalline deposit found in the wood of the Poon spar (Callophyllum tomentosum).
Kathbol. -Is a mixture of catechu and myrrh, which is frequently given to women after confinement as a tonic, and to promote the secretion of milk.