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|GAW025||Tragacanth gum Astragalus tragacantha|
Gum tragacanth has many industrial uses, including cloth finishing, calico printing and waterproofing of fabrics. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years, dating back several centuries before the Christian era. In folk medicine it has been used for a laxative, persistent cough, diarrhea, and as an aphrodesiac. Modern pharmaceutical uses include an adhesive agent for pills and tablets, and for emulsifying oil droplets in lotions, creams and pastes. Its superior water absorbing qualities make it an excellent thickening agent. Gum tragacanth is used in many everyday commercial products, from cosmetics and toothpaste to preserves and salad dressings. It is also used in syrups, mayonnaise, sauces, liqueurs, confectionary, ice cream and ice lollies.
Demulcent, but owing to its incomplete solubility is not often used internally. It is much used for the suspension of heavy, insoluble powders to impart consistence to lozenges, being superior to gum arabic, also in making emulsions, mucilago, etc. Mucilage of Tragacanth has been used as anapplication to burns; it is also employed by manufacturers for stiffening calico, crape, etc
The natural gum tragacanth, which is used in pharmaceuticals and textiles, is obtained from Astragalus tragacanthus. It is claimed to help the immune system, and to increase the body's resistance to common viruses.
In western herbal medicine, Astragalus is primarily considered a tonic for enhancing metabolism and digestion and is consumed as a tea made from the roots of the plant. It is also traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and in the healing of wounds and injuries.