Autor: Pharm. Sabine Klein

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Asociación Cordobesa de Farmacéuticos Homeopáticos
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In Search of the True Terebinthina

Top  Raw material

Terebinthina is obtained principally from two different families of trees: the Pinaceaes and the Anacardiaceaes.

In the Pineaceae family we find Terebinthina from the genus Pinus, whose most known species are Pinus nigra Arn. (found in Austria, Southern Europe, North Africa and Turkie), Pinus silvestris L. (from Northern Europe, Germany, Russia and Bulgary), Pinus palustris Mill. (from North America, Virginia and Florida) and Pinus pinaster Sol. (which grows on the west mediterranean coast, the french atlantic coast, in Russia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).

This Terebinthina is known as Oleum terebinthinae medicinale or Turpentine oil.
Other names are: Germ.: Medizinalterpentinöl, Pinus-Arten-Terpentinöl; Fr.: Essence de Térébenthine officinale; It.: Essenza di trementina, trementina essenza medicale, Span.: Esencia de trementina.

In Mexico we also find the Pinus teocote Schlecht. et Cham.

Of the same family (Pinaceae), the Larix genus, with its species Larix decidua Mill (which grows in Europe), gives us the Terebinthina venata also called Venetian terpentine or Larch Turpentine.
Synonyms: Germ.: Lärchenterpentin, Venezianisher Terpentin; Fr.: Térébinthe de Venise, Térébinthe du Mélèze; Span.:Trementina de alerce, Trementina de Venecia, Trementina del larice.

Also, various species of Abies (from the Abies genus) contain the oleoresin turpentine
From the Abies Alba Mill. we obtain the Terebinthina Alsatica or Strasbourg turpentine, (synonyms : Germ.: Kontinentales Terpentin; Fr.: Térébenthine d’Alsace, Térébenthine de Strasbourg; It.:Trementino de Abeto, Trementino de Alsacia) and from the species Abies balsamae Mill. and Abies canadensis (also called Tsuga canadensis Carr.) the turpentine obtained is known as Balsamum canadense, or Canada turpentine
Synonyms: Germ.: Kanadabalsam; Fr.: Baume du Canada, Térébinthe du Canada; It.: Balsamo del Canada).

Finally, a tree grown on the islands of Chios and Chyprus, the Pistacia terebinthus L, from the genus Pistacia, of the Anacardiaceae family, provides us with Terebinthina Chios, or Chian turpentine.


Top  Preparation

All those turpentines are obtained by making cuts in the trunks of the trees, from where the oleoresin flows.
Then it goes through different manufacturing processes, leading to different turpentines with different compositions

  1. Turpentine: the oleoresin consists of two main constituents: the Turpentine oil and the Colophonium. They are separated by distillation with water-vapor.

  2. Oleum terebinthinae (Turpentine oil): is the part that passes into the distillate.

    Before its use, this turpentine oil can be purified by 2 different methods.
    We obtain:

  3. Oleum terebinthinae aetheroleum: when the turpentine oil is purified by a second distillation with water-vapor (this is the method described by the older literature)


  4. Oleum terebinthinae rectificatum: here the turpentine oil is purified by rectification, as described in the new literature (which in our days means by countercurrent distillation, but in the old literature e.g. by F. Hartmann and J. Buchner means distillation with water-vapor in a glass-retort)


(c) ACFaH 1998- Sabine Klein