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PISTACIA TEREBINTHUS.-CHIAN TURPENTINE TREE.
Class XX. DICECIA.—Order V. PENTANDRIA.
This tree affords the Chian, or Cyprus Tuqientine. It is a native of the south of Europe and the north of Africa. It is cultivated in the islands of Scio, (the Chios of the ancients,) and Cyprus, and has been long known in this country as an ornamental plant. There is a fine tree in Chelsea Garden, near the gate, from which the accompanying figure was designed.
The Pistacia Terebinthus is a tree of low stature, seldom attaining the height of thirty or thirty-five feet. The trunk and branches are invested with a dark grey or rugged blackish bark, and bent in all directions. The leaves are pinnate, and consist of three pair of ovate-oblong, entire, smooth leaflets, with an odd one, all of a dark green colour, and somewhat curved backward. They are, in our climate, deciduous, and according to Sir James Ed. Smith appear by Dr. Sibthorpe's drawings, to be so in Greece. The young leaves have a beautiful reddish hue, and are thin, smooth, and shining. The flowers, which appear in May and June, are on different trees, in large, very compound panicles. In the starnineous ones the calyx consists of one leaf, and is divided into five deep equal segments. There is no corolla. The filaments are four or five in number, capillary, very short, and supporting large, brown, erect, oblong quadrangular anthers, of two cells bursting lengthwise. The pistilline flowers are placed on a common peduncle in alternate order, consisting of a calyx in three small squamous segments, and a roundish somewhat triangular germen, supporting three erect styles, with obovate, reflexed, clubbed stigmas. The fruit is a drupe, scarcely bigger than a large pea, ovate, smooth, a little compressed, and of a reddish colour. Galls of the same shape are found on the leaves, and very large pod-like ones, are often produced from the young branches, as the figures of the older botanists represent.
Cyprus or Chian turpentine, which is famished by this tree, is procured by wounding the bark of the trunk in several places, during the month of July, leaving a space of about three inches between the wounds; from these the turpentine exudes and is received on stones, upon which it becomes condensed by the coldness of the night, so as to admit of being scraped off before sunrise. To free it from extraneous substances, it is again liquefied by the sun's heat, and pressed through a strainer, when it is fit for use. The quantity produced is so very inconsiderable, that large trees, sixty years old, are said to yield on an average only two pounds nine ounces and six drachms a piece; but in the eastern part of Cyprus and Chio, the trees afford somewhat more, though still so little as to render its price high, on which account it is much adulterated with the other turpentines.
Qualities.—The best Chio turpentine is generally about the consistence of thick honey; is very tenacious, clear, and almost transparent; of a white colour inclining to yellow, and of a fragrant smell; moderately warm to the taste, but free from acrimony and bitterness.
"Volatile Oils" says Mr. Field, [Chromatography, p. 3/0], " procured by distillation from turpentine and other vegetal substances, are almost destitute of the strength of the expressed oils, having hardly more cementing power in painting than water alone, and are principally useful as solvents, and media of resinous and other substances introduced into vehicles and varnishes. In drying they partly evaporate, and partly by combination with oxygen form resins, and become fixed. They are not, however, liable to change colour like expressed oils of a drying nature; and, owing to their extreme fluidness, are useful diluents of the latter: they have also a bleaching quality, whereby they, in some degree, correct the tendency of drying and expressed oils to discolourment. Of essential oils, the most volatile, and nearest in this respect to alcohol is the oil of Sassafras, but that most used in painting is the Oil of Turpentine; the rectified oil, improperly called Spirit of Turpentine, &c. is preferable only on account of its being thinner, and more free from resin. By the action of oxygen upon it water is either generated or set free, and the oil becomes thickened, but is again rendered limpid by a boiling heat upon water, in which the oxygen and resin are separated from it. When coloured by heat or otherwise, oil of turpentine may be bleached by agitating some lime powder in it, which will carry down the colour."
Medical Properties And Uses.—The writings of Dioscorides, Pliny, and Areta;us, prove that the ancients admitted all the varieties of the turpentines into their materia medica. The first-named author, in his second book, classifies them as moist and dry. Pliny adopts the same arrangement; and both enumerate very fully the different species from which each variety is obtained. "Summae species duae, sicca et liquida. Sicca e" pinu et picea: liquida e terebintho, larice, lentisco, cupresso." This enumeration accords very nearly with that of Tceniae; by giving two ounces at a time, and repeating it in ounce doses if necessary; purging is generally produced, and the worm is usually evacuated lifeless. Its operation on the bowels, says Dr. Murray, as a cathartic in these large quantities, seems to prevent its absorption, and therefore obviates its action on the organs; and it has been stated in conformity to this, that the action, giving rise to strangury, is more likely to happen from small than large doses. Analogy leads to the employment of the same remedy, for the expulsion of other worms, and in some cases lumbrici have been expelled. It has also been employed under the form of enema, half an ounce being diffused in mucilage, or in water, by the medium of the yolk of an egg. The nauseating effect on the stomach is thus avoided, but this mode is frequently productive of pain.
Externally it is also employed as a rubefacient; and, what is very curious, if applied to the skin of a horse, dog, cat, and some other animals, it acts like scalding water, blisters the skin, and produces intense pain.
Its most important use, however, as a topical application is, as a remedy for extensive burns and scalds, when recently inflicted. Dr. Kentish, of Newcastle, appears to have been the first to introduce the oil of turpentine; and has published several cases, in which it was employed with the most beneficial effect. In applying this remedy, the great object is to avoid the cooling process of evaporation, and we are directed to proceed in the following manner; the injured parts are to be bathed two or three times over with the oil, or with spirits of wine, which answers the same purpose, heated by standing in hot water. After this a liniment, composed of the unguentum resinae, softened with oil of turpentine, (Linimentum terebinlhina,} is to be spread on soft cloth, and applied. This liniment is to be renewed only once in twenty-four hours, and, at the second dressing, the parts are to be washed with proof spirits. When the secretion of pus takes place, milder applications must be had recourse to, till the cure is effected. During the use of the turpentine it is of the utmost importance that the injured surface should be left uncovered as little as possible; it is therefore recommended to let the fresh plasters be quite ready before the old ones are removed, and then only to take off one piece at a time. When the inflammatory action has somewhat abated, the exciting means should also be diminished, and warm proof spirits or laudanum, may be substituted for the oil, and the unguentum resinae flavae is to be mixed with oleum camphoratum instead of turpentine. If this should be found too irritating, Dr. Kentish recommends ceratum plumbi acetatis, or the common calamine cerate. When this mode of treatment is adopted, aether or alcohol, and other stimulants, with opium, are to be immediately given in proportion to the degree of injury, and repeated as circumstances may require. In slight burns, in which the action of the part only is increased, he has not found any thing better for the first application than the heated oleum terebinthinae and ceratum resinae thinned with the same.
"Oil of Turpentine.—This very common liquid," says Dr. Taylor, [on Poisons, p. 528,] "which is so easily identified by its powerful odour, does not appear to exert any strong action as an irritant poison. It is often given with impunity in large doses to young children as a vermifuge. In the following case, reported by Dr. Evans, an infant, aet. fourteen months, swallowed four ounces by mistake, and recovered. The child was found two hours after the occurrence in a comatose state, pulse 130, tunica conjunctiva injected, pupils dilated, eyes watery, face flushed, breathing hurried—strangury, bowels painful, particularly along the course of the spermatic vessels. He was ordered an emetic of ipecacuanha. Vomiting was soon excited, and briskly kept up by tepid water. The contents of the stomach had a strong odour of turpentine. After the operation of the emetic, cold was applied to the head, and flannel cloths wrung out of hot water, to the epigastrium. At 6 p.m., ten hours after the accident, he was much improved, was quite lively, pulse 120; had passed eight small worms. On the following day he was decidedly better, slept well during the night; slight pain in the bowels on pressure. Castor-oil was given. From this time he improved daily, suffering only from a little excitement about the brain, and in four or five days he had perfectly recovered. (Brit. Amer. Journ. of Med. and Phys. Science, Nov. 1846.) The treatment contributed to recovery in this case. When this poison has been swallowed, it will be indicated by the odour of the breath.
"Although I believe there is no case on record of the destruction of life by oil of turpentine, it may excite a violent irritating action on the kidneys, tending to strangury. It may also cause hypercatharsis. The oil can hardly be called a poison, yet it may in some instances seriously affect the constitution.
"Analysis.—Oil of Turpentine would be sufficiently identified by its odour and inflammability. The fact of poisoning by it would be indicated by the odour in the breath, &c.
"Another kind of turpentine, the Balsam of Copaiba, has been known to cause serious symptoms. Half an ounce was administered to an adult as an enema. This was soon followed by pain in the stomach, vomiting, and general uneasiness. The man had convulsions, and for three days he was unable to speak. He slowly recovered. (Brit, and For. Med. Rev. xvii. Jan. 1840, 268.)"