HERBS - the basics


Resin is a synthetic or natural compound which starts off in a very viscous state and then gradually hardens after the treatment. Resin is insoluble in water, but is soluble in alcohol. There are different categories of resins and the divisions are based on the potential uses and the chemical composition. The resins are used for many applications and that ranges from the use in art and also in production of polymer. The consumers have a relationship with products that have resin in them.

Where does natural resin come from? Natural resin comes from plants. The plant resins are used by human beings over a long period of time. Resins are found in many plants and they protect the plants from getting infested with insects or there is any other fungal infestation. The tissues are sealed against any damage. Some plants give out a similar substance called gum resin or gum and this does not mix with water. The gum is more malleable and soft than resin.
The plant resin is dark brown or clear in color and it has different levels of hardness and opacity. It is also volatile and it contains many unstable compounds. If resin trees cannot be identifies, it can cause accidents as resins, some of them, contain heptanes (hydrocarbons), which are highly inflammable. Amber which is a decorative material is a form of resin that is fossilized. The golden rich hue is the color of amber and that is a common hue for plant resins. Amber can have colors like blue which is a rare color.

Natural resins have been in use for many thousands of years. Pine pitch is used mainly as a sealing material for sealing food containers, mummies and boats. It is used as a major component in jewelry, perfumes, inks, lacquer, varnish and other objects. Later resins came to be transformed into polymers and later on the discovery of synthetic reasons followed.

Polymers are made out of synthetic resin which can be easily refined and it is cheaper. Synthetic resin is more stable and also uniform than natural resin. This is because it does not contain many impurities as it is prepared under situations that are controlled. These are made by combining the chemicals in a laboratory. Resins can be used for making paints and plastics.

Resin is emitted from the plants and it is chemical component for the paints, adhesives and varnishes and other chemical and synthetic compounds. It is secretion from the coniferous trees in the form of hydrocarbons and because of the typical ingredient present, it is used in the chemical and manufacturing industries.

The raw resins that are got from plants are processed and treated to suit the requirements of the society. It is indeed a question as to why the plants produce resins but the scientists have to believe that resin production in plants help to kill insects and also help the plant to get rid of the extra metabolites. Resin ooze out of plants and it is collected in soft drops which solidify into a mass when it comes in contact with air. The property in resin that helps to harden makes it a useful component in adhesives and varnishes. Resins are collected from the wood or the bark of the plants that secrete it and they are often collected from plants when the tissues are leached by alcohol. The raw resins are distilled and after the terpene elements are taken away from it, are used and processed to make soaps. There are hard resins apart from the common resins in the environment. Sandarac, mastic, dammers, copals are used for cement making and for making varnishes. There are also uses for the softer resins rich in the essential oils, for incense sticks and for therapeutic purposes. It is interesting to know that certain resins that are fossilized are common and the African copal and amber are much prominent among them.

The essential resin is a combination of resenes (inert substances and esters, resin phenols, resinols or resin alcohols and resin acids). These are combined with the gums and volatile oils to form the gum resins and the oleo resins and other resins are combined with the balsamic acids which are aromatic and also cinnamic acids and benzoic acids. These are referred to the balsamic resins and it is a resin in fluid form along with simple resins which are often mistakenly referred to the oleo resins.
Among other things resins include Guaiacum spp.- guaiacum, Pinus spp.- colophony and Daemonorops spp. dragon's blood, while oleo-resins include Pinus spp. (crude turpentine) and Copaifera spp. - copaiba.
On the other hand, gum-resins, oleo-gum-resins include Commiphora molmol - myrrh, Boswellia spp.- frankincense, Ferula foetida - asafoetida, and Garcinia hanburii - gamboge, and balsamic resins include Styrax spp. - benzoin. Balsams also comprise balsam of Peru (Myroxylon pereirae), Myroxylon balsamum - balsam of Tolu, and Liquidambar orientalis - storax.
The medicinal effects of resins are mainly as to stimulate the phagocytic activities and also as antiseptics. This is used in the form of gargles and also as mouthwashes which help them to act as a disinfectant for the area and also a local increase is flared up in case of white blood cells. A similar effect would take place in the stomach deep down in the digestive region.
The balsams have also been used as dressings for wound down the centuries. According to Western medicine ninety per cent of the marigold and myrrh tinctures are applied as application for mucosal surface infections topically.

Resins those are solid and transparent like copals, mastic, dammars and sandarac, are mainly employed for manufacturing adhesives and varnishes. On the other hand, potently odorous and softer oleo-resins (for instance, elemi, copaiba, frankincense and turpentine) as well as gum resins that enclose essential oils (such as asafoetida, ammoniacum, scammony, myrrh and gamboges) are mostly used for remedial purposes as well as making incense.

Rosin, a form of resin, is rubbed on the bows of stringed musical instruments, such as erhu, violin, sarangi and rebec, as it has the aptitude to enhance friction and thereby produce a superior quality sound. Even ballet dancers may rub squashed resins on their shoes with a view to improve the grip of the shoes on any smooth floor. In earlier times, boxers also used squashed resin to rub on their shoes with a view to avoid slipping.

In addition, sculpture artists like Eva Hesse have also employed resin in the form of a medium. It has also been used in various other kind of art work. During the initial days of 1990s, nearly all manufacturers of balls for all ten-pin bowling included particles of resin in the covers of the balls used for bowling. In fact, when resin is added to bowling balls, they become sticker that usual, thereby augmenting their aptitude to clasp to the pins at particular angles and applying the right technique, it makes it easier to achieve strikes.

Before concluding, it should be mentioned that resin is also employed in stereolithography.


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