Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Gallicum acidum

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---Constituents---The chief constituents of Aleppo or Turkey Galls are 50 to 70 per cent of gallotannic acid, 2 to 4 per cent of gallic acid, mucilage, sugar, resin and an insoluble matter, chiefly lignin.

'White' galls contain less gallotannic acid than 'blue' or 'green.'

English Oak Galls, or Oak Apples, are smooth, globular, brown, usually perforated and much less astringent than Aleppo Galls, containing only 15 to 20 per cent of gallotannic acid. They have no commercial value.

China Galls - produced by a species of Aphis on Rhus semialata - are used mainly for the manufacture of tannic and gallic acids, pyrogallol, ink, etc. They are not spherical, but of extremely diverse and irregular form, with a thick, grey, velvety down, making them a reddish-brown colour. They contain about 70 per cent of gallotannic acid.

Mecca Galls, from Bassorah, known as 'mala nisana,' are spherical in shape and surrounded about the centre by a circle of horned protuberances. They are not official.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Gallic acid does not coagulate albumen, and when ingested is quickly absorbed, and rapidly discharged by the kidneys, over the secretions of which, as well as of the skin, it has a marked control. Gallic acid is much inferior to tannic acid as a topical astringent; but administered internally, it is more powerful as a remote astringent. Indeed, tannic acid, in its passage through the system, becomes changed into gallic acid. As a remote astringent, gallic acid has been found very beneficial in uterine, pulmonary, and nephritic hemorrhages, and all hemorrhages of a passive character. Menorrhagia has promptly ceased under its use. Give 5 grains in pill-form 3 or 4 times a day during the flow, as well as during the intermenstrual period. It is best adapted to chronic passive cases. It has also been found useful in night sweats, pyrosis, chronic mucous discharges from the bowels or bladder, and has some reputation in arresting the excretion of albumen in Bright's disease of the kidney, and assists in maintaining the patient's strength. In hemoptysis give 3 grains each of gallic acid and Dover's powder every 2 hours, and at the same time administer ergot by the mouth or hypodermatically (Locke). From 2 to 5 grains every 3 hours controls bleeding from the nose and bowels during typhoid fever. As a remedy in diabetes insipidus it is asserted to arrest the polyuria by promptly constringing the relaxed renal capillaries. From 10 to 30 minims of the glycerole should be administered 4 times a day (Webster). Some cases of old, purulent conjunctivitis are cured by it, and it is of value in trachoma with soft, pasty granulations. One part of gallic to 3 parts of tannic acid should be insufflated upon the parts twice daily (Foltz). It has given benefit in purpura. Costiveness is not produced by its use. Its dose is from 3 to 20 grains 3 times a day, or oftener; it may be used in the same form as the tannic acid; of the glycerole 5 to 60 minims. Its hydro-glycerin solution may be employed as a wash, gargle, or injection.

Galls are much used commercially in the preparation of gallic acid and tannic acid, and are extensively employed in tanning and dyeing, in the manufacture of ink, etc. The product of boiled galls mixed with iron is:  IRON GALLOTANNATE and has been the principle writing ink of commerce for 2,000 years.

Medicinally, they are a powerful astringent, the most powerful of all vegetable astringents, used as a tincture internally, in cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, cholera, and as an injection in gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, etc.
Preparations of gall are usually applied as a local astringent externally, mainly in Gall ointment ( 1 OZ. powdered galls and 4 OZ. benzoated lard), applied to painful haemorrhoids, and also to arrest haemorrhage from the nose and gums.
An infusion may be used also as a gargle in relaxed throat, inflamed tonsils, etc.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Galls are astringent, and were used in all cases where astringents are indicated, as in chronic dysentery, diarrhoea, passive hemorrhages, and in cases of poisoning by strychnine, veratrine, and other vegetable alkaloids, with which it forms tannates possessing less activity than the other salts of these bases. Boiled in milk the decoction is used for the diarrhoea of children. As a local application, the infusion is employed as an injection in gleet, leucorrhoea, prolapsus ani, or for a gargle in indolent ulceration of the fauces, relaxed uvula, and the chronic stage of mercurial action on the mouth. The addition of alum is said to render it more beneficial. Dose of the powder, from 5 to 20 grains; of the tincture, 1/2 to 1 fluid drachm; of the infusion, from 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce. Gallic and tannic acids have now supplanted it as a medicine.

Latent Developments from Gallic Acid, 1839
R. Derek Wood
Journal of Photographic Science, 28: 1 (January/February 1980), pp. 36–41

With his fourteen preparation of photosensitive material probably made in the first week of February 1839, John Herschel introduced gallic acid into photographic science.  His “hopes of the gallate of silver” were communicated to W. H. F. Talbot in a letter of 28 February and indirectly through J. B. Reade towards the end of March 1839.  Gallic acid was mentioned at a reading of Herschel’s paper on photography at the Royal Society on 14 March 1839, and the “somewhat problematic” light–sensitive combination of gallic acid with silver nitrate published by Herschel early in 1840. Unpublished photographic use of gallic acid by J. B. Reade in late March 1839, and brief published references to the chemical by A. Smee and G. P. A. Petzholdt during 1839 had little significance. Talbot purchase gallic acid on 30 March 1839, tested it six days later, and in 1841 patented the calotype technique in which gallic acid acted as a physical developer.  Chemical ideas relevant in 1839 to the pre–developer use of gallic acid are discussed.