Classification - Drugs Containing Resins

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Resins

Resins are classified mostly on the basis of two important features, that is, on the basis of their chemical nature and secondly as per their association with the other group of compounds like essential oils and gums.




Resins are classified mostly on the basis of two important features, that is, on the basis of their chemical nature and secondly as per their association with the other group of compounds like essential oils and gums.


Chemical classification of resins categorizes these products according to their active functional groups as given below:


Resin Acids


Resin acids are the carboxylic acid group containing resinous substances which may or may not have association with phenolic compounds. These compounds are found in free states or as the esters derivatives. Being acidic compounds they are soluble in aqueous solution of alkalies producing frothy solution. Resin acids can be derivatized to their metallic salts known as resinates, which finds their use in soap, paints and varnish industries. The abietic acid and commiphoric acid present in colophony and myrrh respectively are the examples of resin acids.


Resin Esters


Resin esters are the esters of the resin acids or the other aromatic acids like benzoic, cinnamic, salicylic acids, etc.

They are sometimes converted to their free acids by the treatment with caustic alkali. Dragon’s blood and benzoin are the common resin ester containing drugs.


Resin Alcohols


Resin alcohols or resinols are the complex alcoholic com-pounds of high molecular weight. Like resin acids they are found as free alcohols or as esters of benzoic, salicylic, and cinnamic acids. They are insoluble in aqueous alkali solution but are soluble in alcohol and ether. Resinols are present in benzoin as benzoresinol and in storax as storesinol.


Resin Phenols


Resin phenols or resinotannols are also high molecular weight compounds which occur in free states or as esters. Due to phenolic group they form phenoxoids and become soluble in aqueous alkali solution. However they are insoluble in water but dissolve in alcohol and ether. Resinotannols gives a positive reaction with ferric chloride. The resinotannol are found in balsam of Peru as peruresinotannol, in Tolu balsam as toluresinotannol and in benzoin as siaresinotannols.




Resins sometimes get combined with sugars by glycosylation and produce glucoresins. Glycoresins can be hydrolysed by acidic hydrolysis to the glycone and aglycone.




Chemically inert resin products are generally termed as resenes. They are generally found in free state and never form esters or other derivatives. Resenes are soluble in benzene, chloroform and to some extent in petroleum ether. Resenes are insoluble in water. Asafoetida is an example of resene-containing drug, which contains drug about 50% of asaresene B.

Accordingly, other simple classification based on the association of resin with gums and/or volatile oils is given below.




Oleoresins are the homogenous mixture of resin with vola-tile oils. The oleoresins posses an essence due to volatile oils. A trace amount of gummy material may sometimes be found in oleoresins. Turpentine, ginger, copaiba, Canada resin are few important examples of oleoresins.


Gum Resins


Gum resins are the naturally occurring mixture of resins with gums. Due to solubility in water, gums can be easily separated out from resin by dissolving the gum in water. Ammoniacum is an example of natural gum resin.


Oleogum Resins


Oleogum resins are the naturally occurring mixtures of resin, volatile oil, and gum. The example includes gum myrrh, asafoetida, gamboage, etc. Oleogum resins oozes out from the incisions made in the bark and hardens.




Balsams are the naturally occurring resinous mixtures which contain a high proportion of aromatic balsamic acids such as benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, and their esters. Balsams containing free acids are partially soluble in hot water. Some important balsams containing drugs are balsam of Peru, balsam of Tolu, benzoin, and storax. The oleogum resin containing drugs like copaiba and Canada are sometimes wrongly referred to as balsams.


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