This tree yields an oleo resin, used in medicine and known under the name of bálsamo de gurjun. Other species of Dipterocarpus (D. alatus, Roxb.; D. incanus, Roxb.; D. trinervis, Bl., etc., etc.) produce the same substance.
Balsam of Gurjun is a stimulant of the mucous membranes, especially those of the genito-urinary tract, and is diuretic. It is also indicated in bronchial catarrh and as a local application in ulcer. The first to recommend the use of gurjun as a substitute for copaiba was Sir W. O’Shaughnessy in 1838, and in 1852 this property was confirmed by Waring with highly satisfactory results. Dr. Enderson of Glasgow employed it in cases that received no benefit from copaiba, giving a teaspoonful t. i. d. in emulsion. Dr. Rean also classed it as equal to copaiba in efficiency.
The daily dose ranges from 5–20 grams, in liquid or pill.
The following is an excellent formula for an emulsion: Cinnamon water 125 grams.
Sodium carbonate, crystals 2 grams.
Balsam of gurjun 25 grams.
Syrup of gum 25 grams.
Sulphuric ether 2 grams.
Mix and shake.
DOSE.—6–12 large spoonfuls each day, for the declining stage of gonorrhoea.
In Burmah they extract the balsam by the following method: A large hole is cut in the trunk of the tree and a fire is built in this cavity and kept up till the wood of the trunk begins to burn, by which time the oleo resin has collected in abundance in the segments of bamboo placed to receive it. When the exudate diminishes, fire is again placed in the cavity and one tree may tolerate 2, 3 or even 4 of these cavities. The exudate on standing separates into 2 parts; a solid called “guad” which forms the lower layer, and a supernatant liquid which is the balsam. It is dense, viscid and very fluorescent; opaque and gray-green by reflected light. It has an odor similar to that of copaiba, is bitter and aromatic. Its density is 0.964. It is soluble in benzine, in bisulphuret of carbon, chloroform, the essential oils and less so in ether and acetic acid. It becomes turbid and coagulates if it be kept at 100° for some time and it solidifies at 200°, while copaiba remains liquid at this temperature.
A specimen of the balsam examined by Flückiger consisted of 54.44 parts semifluid resin and 45.56 volatile material. Upon distillation it yields an essential oil, of slight odor, straw-colored; formula C20H32 (Werner). If purified its density is 0.915. It is soluble in amylic alcohol, scarcely so in absolute alcohol. Hydrochloric acid colors it a beautiful blue. The resin remaining after distillation, dissolved in alcohol 0.838 with the addition of ammonia, yields as a precipitate a crystalline acid (gurjunic acid), C44H64O8, soluble in alcohol 0.838, in ether, in benzol and bisulphide of carbon. It melts at 220° (Werner), solidifies at 180° and is decomposed at 260°.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A very large, handsome tree with leaves about 5′ in length, alternate, ovate, broad and lanceolate, entire, glabrous and membranaceous. Petioles very short. Flowers terminal, paniculate, handsome, fragrant. Calyx free, 5 lanceolate sepals, of which 2 are slightly longer than the others. Corolla, 5 yellow oblong petals longer than the sepals. Stamens numerous, attached to the receptacle. Filaments very short. Anthers of 2 divisions each ending in a long beard. Ovary half buried in the receptacle. A single thick style. Three simple stigmas. Seed vessel of 3 cells, seeds in pairs.
HABITAT.—In Luzon in the mountains of Tala, Angat and San Mateo; in Mindanao, Paragua, Balabac and Negros. Blooms in June.
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