Saturday, 24 November 2012

Resins

At the U3A meeting on Thursday, I did a short presentation on Frankincense and Myrrh, both of which produce aromatic resins. This led me to investigate other plant resins. Amber is one such resin and the trade in amber goes back to the stone age and the use of cannabis resin(hashish) can be traced back to the bronze age. As I described in the talk, there was an extensive trade in both Frankinsence and Myrrh, by the Arabians, for many centuries starting from at least 1000Bc. The Mayans also used incense from around 600BC, using resins from Pinus and Liquidambar species.
 Honeybees collect resin  from a number of plant sources and bring it back to the hive where it is masticated with salivary secretions and mixed with beeswax, to make propolis. Poplar bud resins are the most commonly used especially, black poplar. Propolis is used in folk medicine to treat internal and external sores and ulcers. It is also strongly antimicrobial and can produce surface anaesthesia.
Native Americans chewed Liquidambar resin as a tooth preservative as well as to cure fevers and dysentery.

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