An Introduction to Tracaganth Gum or Gond
There are some Ayurvedic herbs you have been eating all your life. Alternatively, there are others which are not as popular. The Katira gond, for instance, is one such example. It also goes by the Latin name Tragacanth gum or gond in Ayurveda. While it may initially seem futile, don’t turn away – or there are a plethora of benefits you neglect.
This gum comes from the tragacanth shrub. It contains a sap-like material or resin which is of popular use in medicines. In other words, this is a viscous, tasteless, odourless, and water-soluble polysaccharide mixture from the plant root. This is an Ayurvedic laxative – it stimulates the intestines, and can thus relieve constipation and diarrhoea.
There are a number of other miscellaneous benefits of this gum. First, it houses incredible cooling properties. Thus, it is a widespread ingredient in cooling summer drinks. Likewise, it can control heavy blood flow during menstruation. Secondly, this contains valuable benefits to the skin. It namely contains valuable anti-ageing properties which helps to deal with wrinkles and fine lines.
However, there are certain such side effects accompanying this herb. Fortunately, it is most likely safe to consume by mouth or the skin. Many doctors even recommend this as a medicine. To clarify, though, make sure you drink enough water to prevent the gum from blocking the intestines. Similarly, it is safe for the skin as well, and is thus a common ingredient to cosmetics.
Nevertheless, there are two population groups which are at greater risk. First, pregnant or breastfeeding women may not process this gum as effectively. While there is insufficient information in this field, make sure to stay on the safer side by avoiding it entirely. Secondly, people with a quillaia allergy (or similarly, quillaia bark allergy) can face breathing conditions.
In general, the thick gel-like nature of this gum lends it a sticky nature which can block your intestines. As a result, it is most effective when you consume this individually. Consuming it in tandem with other medicines can reduce its absorption levels in the body. Subsequently, this lowers the effectiveness of either medicine type.
The gum comes from the shrub in the form of twisted ribbons or flakes. Simply powder this, and combine with water to form a thick gel. Further, stirring up this gel can cause a paste. One of these fractions, for instance, is tragacanthin. This is a highly water soluble mucalloidal colloid. While there similarly exists a chemically related bassorin which also swells in water to form a gel, yet is not as soluble.
You can also consume this gum through various edible forms. For example, you can use this as a salad dressing by itself or in condiments (such as sauces and condiments). Also, it is present as a thickener in ice creams, puddings, and Indian sweets (e.g. laddoos). It helps lend a sheen to cake decoration flowers too.
This gum possesses a number of uses in the leatherwork and textile industries. In addition, Ayurveda recommends this gum as a herbal remedy for cough, colds, diarrhoea, and constipation. Each of its forms carry some use of its own. Some powders use tragacanth as a base, for instance, and go by the name diatragacanth.
Second, their mucilage or paste forms are a valuable ready for burns. Thirdly, and along similar lines, artists use these as a traditional binder in pastels. This is because it does not behave in the same manner in which other gums do upon drying. Fourth, the gum can be of use in forming a floral sugar craft paste – this creates lifelike flowers on wires and cake decorations. Above all, it provides a fine and delicate finishing touch.
Fifth, the mucilage is also of use in the pharmaceutical and food industries. For instance, various recipes and drugs use this as an emulsifier, thickener, or stabiliser, or to naturally enhance texture. Sixthly, and similarly, the adhesive properties make it valuable to cigar rolling. Here, it secures a cap or ‘flag’ leaf to the finished cigar body.
There are various culture-specific uses of the gum as well. In the Middle East and Turkey, tragacanth gum helps with paper marbling. It specifically helps to shape and size the pigments floating on paper. Interestingly, western countries use carrageen for this purpose.
Lastly, the binding properties of this gum help with incense making in South Asian countries. They help to secure powdered herbs together, while its water soluble nature helps an easy spread and ease of working. It is effective too – it requires only half the quantity of other gum types (e.g. arabic gum) in playing the same role.
Ayurveda stresses on this gum for its cooling, water soluble, and medicinal properties. Most importantly, it is adaptable across seasons – in other words, it heats you up in winters and cools you down in summers. For this reason, this is a fabulous addition to any summer drink. Simply soak the gum on water and wait for the solution to froth up.
Second, it maintains hormonal, reproductive, and sexual health. For instance, it increases libid0 and sexual health among men. Likewise, it increases breast health and size amongst women. In fact, it even helps to maintain the mother’s health post delivery. It helps both the mother and her baby.
Thirdly, it contains effective purgative properties which help to treat constipation.
Fourth, to contains antioxidants which wards away free radical damage. In this manner, it delays wrinkles and skin ageing.
Tracaganthum gum or gum may not be that popular, but don’t dismiss it straight away. It serves as a natural laxative, coolant, and medicine. You can consume this in a drink or salad. Similarly, various sweets use this as a thickener as well. However, be cautious of the side effects if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are allergic to quillaia.