Compiled by Ivor Hughes.
Ambergris. Ambra Orisea (cinerea). Ambre, Ambre
gris, Fr. Amber, Grave Ambra, G
It is opaque, lighter than water, and of a consistence like that of wax. Ambergris has a peculiar aromatic agreeable odor, is almost tasteless, softens with the warmth of the hand, melts under 100� C., is almost completely volatilizable by heat, and is inflammable. It is insoluble in water, but is readily dissolved, with the aid of heat, by alcohol, ether, and the volatile and fixed oils. It consists chiefly of a peculiar fatty matter analogous to cholesterin, and denominated by Pelletier and Caventou tombrein. When pure this has little or no odor. JJeauregard and Gouchet believe that ambergris is a calculus composed of crystals of umbrein mixed with black pigment and star-coral debris.
When fresh ambergris is disagreeable in odor. If kept for a year or two in air tight containers it loses its excrementitious odor and acquires the characteristic perfume for which it is valued, although its use in perfumery is more for the purpose of fixing delicate floral. odors than for any odor which it contributes to the mixture itself. This change Beauregard believes is due to a microbe (Spirillum recti physeteris). (G. R. A. 8., cxxv, 254.)
Ambergris was formerly regarded as a cordial and antispasmodic, somewhat analogous to musk, � useful in typhoid fevers, and various nervous diseases. It is no longer used as a medicament but is employed in perfumery. It is comparatively rare and very expensive, the black variety commanding a price of from $10 to $15 an ounce, while the white or gray variety costs in the Neighborhood of twice that figure. Dose, five grains to a drachm (0.32-3.9 Gm.)
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