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Sumach berries have an agreeably acid, slightly styptic taste, which is due, according to W. J. Watson, to malic acid and tannic acids, beside which they contain malate of calcium, gallic acid, fixed and volatile oils, red coloring matter, etc. The bark of the root contains albumen, gum, starch, tannic and gallic acids, caoutchouc, soft resin, coloring matter, and probably a volatile odorous principle.
((Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1853, p. 193)
The leaves of Rhus glabra, collected in Iowa, contained, according to Jos. A. Palen (ibid., 1888, p. 389), about 16 percent of tannin. Virginia-grown leaves usually yield 20 to 25 percent. The excrescences upon the leaves contain tannic and gallic acids, albuminous and coloring matter, and are fully equal to nutgalls in medicinal power. Prof. Trimble (The Tannins) found one specimen to contain 61.7 per cent of tannin. (http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/rhus-glab.html)
(USDA Plant Chemicals)
Gallotannic acid ., C 14 H 10 O 9. This pure tannin of nut - also exists in the leaves and bark of the plant. It is an amorphous, porous, resinous, friable mass, freely soluble in water, less so in alcohol, and insoluble in pure ether.
Calcium Bimalate. This salt is found clinging to the hairs of the fruit as a concretion exuded from them; when soaked off the fruits are no longer sour.
Oil of Rhus. This waxy oil may be extracted from the seeds of this and other species of the genus. It will acquire a tallow - like consist on standing, and can be made into candles, which burn brilliantly, but emit a very annoying pungent smoke.
Resin, oleo - resin, sugar, starch, coloring mater, and gum, have also been determined. * (* Am . Four . Phar ., N . S ., i . 56 , ibid ., XXV ., 193 ; Tilden, Four . Mat , Med ., N. S. i., 195, i., 195; Proc . Royal Society , 1862, 402.)
PHYSIOLOGICAL ACTION . Rhus glabra caused in one individual, in doses of from 30 to 120 drops of the tincture, headache, dryness and heat of the nostrils, with hemorrhage, ulceration of the mouth, loss of appetite, with painful distress in the stomach and bowels, followed by diarrhoea, scanty secretion of urine, great weariness and fatigue, loss of flesh, heat and dryness of the skin, followed by copious sweat during sleep * (* Dr. Marshall n Hale's New Rem ., 2nd ed., 872.) One symptom was also developed in this case that I desire to comment upon, viz: "Dreams of flying through the air. " During the summer of 1879, while botanixing near Bergen Point, n J, I came into a swarm of furious mosquitoes; quickly cutting a large branch from a sumach bush at hand, I used it vigorously to fight off the pests. Several fine specimens of Baptisia tinctoria grew at hand, and while studying them I kept the sumach branch in constant motion, perspiring freely during the time. On leaving the spot I cut a cane from the same shrub, and also ate of the refreshing berries. For three successive nights following this occurrence I flew (!) over the city of New York with a graceful and delicious motion that I would give several years of my life experience in reality. Query: Did I absorb from my perspiring hands sufficient juice of the bark to produce the effect of the drug, or was it from the berries I held in my mouth? I noticed no other symptoms, and never before or since enjoyed a like dream. (Millspaugh's Medicinal Plants)
All parts of Rhus glabra are astringent and antiseptic.
principal constituents:-large amount of tannin in bark and leaves;
-tanic and gallic acids,malic acids and malates,volatile oils
Use in naturopathic medicine:(eclectic medicine)
-infusion of the fruit-->gargle for fetid sore throat and aphtous ulcerations
-decoction of bark,infusion of berries as a mild astringent especially in spongy bleeding scorbutic
Chemical Composition.- Sumach berries have an agreeably acid, slightly styptic taste, which is due, according to W. J. Watson, to malic acid and tannic acids, beside which they contain malate of calcium, gallic acid, fixed and volatile oils, red coloring matter, etc. The bark of the root contains albumen, gum, starch, tannic and gallic acids, caoutchouc, soft resin, coloring matter, and probably a volatile odorous principle (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1853, p. 193). The leaves of Rhus glabra, collected in Iowa, contained, according to Jos. A. Palen (ibid., 1888, p. 389), about 16 percent of tannin. Virginia grown leaves usually yield 20 to 25 percent. The excrescences upon the leaves contain tannic and gallic acids, albuminous and coloring matter, and are fully equal to nutgalls in medicinal power. Prof. Trimble (The Tannins) found one specimen to contain 61.7 per cent of tannin.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.-Sumach bark is tonic, astringent, antiseptic, and decidedly alterative; the berries are refrigerant and diuretic. In decoction or syrup, the bark of the root has been found valuable in gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, diarrhoea, dysentery, hectic fever, scrofula, and in profuse perspiration from debility. Combined with the barks of slippery elm and white pine, in decoction, and taken freely, it is said to have proved highly beneficial in syphilitic ulcerations. Externally, the bark of the root in powder, applied as a poultice to old ulcers, forms an excellent antiseptic. A decoction may
also be used in injection for prolapsus uteri and ani, and leucorrhoea, and as a wash in many cutaneous diseases; simmered in lard it is valuable in scald head. A decoction of the inner bark of the root is serviceable in the sore mouth resulting from mercurial salivation, and was formerly much used internally in mercurial diseases. A saturated tincture is useful in ulcerative stomatitis, and for spongy gums attending purpura hemorrhagica and scorbutus. Diarrhoea and dysentery, with intestinal ulceration, seem to be well controlled by it. Dose of the tincture, from 5 to 20 drops. The berries may be used in infusion in diabetes, strangury, bowel complaints, febrile diseases (as a pleasant acidulous drink where acids are indicated), etc., as a gargle in quinsy and ulcerations of the mouth and throat; and as a wash for ringworm, tetter, offensive ulcers, etc. Excrescences are frequently formed on the leaves of this plant, and which are very astringent; when powdered and mixed, with lard or linseed oil, they are said to prove useful in hemorrhoids. In hot weather, if the bark be punctured, a gummy substance flows out, which has been used with advantage in gonorrhoea and gleet, and several urinary affections. Dose of the decoction of sumach bark, or infusion of the berries, from 1 to 4 fluid ounces. A free use of the bark will produce catharsis.
Specific Indications and Uses.-Relaxation of mucous tissues, with unhealthy discharges; mercurial ulcerations; aphthous stomatitis; spongy gums; ulcerative sore throat, with fetid discharges; flabbiness and ulceration of tissues.