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Galbanum Galbanum is a bitter, aromatic gum resin extracted from an Asiatic plant (Ferula galbaniflua) or any of several related plants and used in the aromatherapy treatment of abscesses, acne, boils, bronchitis, cuts, lice, mature skin, muscle aches, poor circulation, rheumatism, scars, sores, stretch marks, and medicinally as a counterirritant. 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 color, and has a disagreeable, bitter taste, a peculiar, somewhat musky odor, and a specific gravity of 1.2I2. 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 colorlesscrystalline substance umbelliferone, C9H6O3. Galbanum is one of the oldest of drugs. In Exodus 30:34 it is mentioned as a sweet spice, to be used in the 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.

One of the theories about the origin of the surname Galba is that the name was derived from Galbanum. According Suetonius (a historian who wrote "the life of Galba") it is because some think that it was after having for a long time unsuccessfully besieged a town in Spain, he at last set fire to it by torches smeared with galbanum - others because during a long illness he made constant use of galbeum, that is to say of remedies wrapped in wool.



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