Ferula gummosa is an endemic species of the Persian mountains. Its resin, referred to in the book of Exodus as galbanum, has antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant and stimulant properties. It is primarily used in the treatment of spasmodic conditions of the respiratory and digestive systems. The essential oil is used extensively in perfumery. Galbanum is frequently adulterated. Currently, five times more resin is offered for sale on the European market than is actually collected in Iran. Our project was aimed at extending our understanding of the phytochemical variability to facilitate identification of typical adulterants.

Georges Betti took numerous samples of strictly identified specimens of wild populations of Ferula gummosa in three Iranian geographic zones with distinct differences in geology and climate: Khorassan, Elburz and Zagros. The samples were analysed by the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. The analytical data was correlated with origin and chemotype, as well as the analytical profiles of typical adulterants such as Ferula asa-foetida or Dorema ammoniacum. More than 160 phytochemical components, including some not previously described, were identified in galbanum. The results of our work underline the importance of traceability or raw materials of herbal origin.

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