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Gum arabic, also known as acacia gumchaargundchar goond, or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees throughout the Sahelfrom Senegal and Sudan to Somalia, although it has been historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia.

Gum arabic is a complex mixture of glycoproteins and polysaccharides. It was historically the source of the sugars arabinose and ribose, both of which were first discovered and isolated from it, and are named for it.

Gum arabic is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscositycontrol in inks and in textile industries, although less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles.

While gum arabic is now produced mostly throughout the African Sahel, it is still harvested and used in the Middle East. For example, Arab populations use the natural gum to make a chilled, sweetened, and flavored gelato-like dessert.

Gum arabic is a type of gum that is used in everything from a food stabilizer to inks and textiles. It comes from the hardened sap of the Acacia Senegal and the Acacia Seyal trees.

This natural gum is usually free of color, odor, and taste. When the sap seeps from the tree and hits the air, it often hardens to form an oval the size of a pigeon's egg. It can almost be fully dissolved in its own volume of water. When sold alone, it can be in the form of syrup, powder, oil, chunks, or pellets.

Sap is grown for commercial use in Sudan, Somalia, Senegal, Arabia, Egypt, West Asia, and other countries. The sub-Saharan region has been given the moniker "the gum belt" for its high volume of gum arabic harvested. Sap trappers stimulate its flow by carefully stripping pieces of the bark once a year without injuring the tree. They are then able to extract the sap for approximately five weeks per year, ten years per tree.


The gum's chemical components of glycoproteins and polysaccarides, which give it the consistency of glue, are what make it a good stabilizer for food. Like gelatin and carrageenan,gum arabic can be used to bind food substances as well as to smoothen textures, or to hold flavoring. The gum is used in soft drink syrups, chocolate candies, gummy candies, and marshmallows.

Gum arabic has many non-food uses as well. It is considered a vital component in traditional lithography, particularly when used in paints, inks, glues, and printing. Within the textile and pharmaceutical industries, gum arabic is sometimes used to control viscosity. It can also be used in cosmetics, photography, incense cones, shoe polish, postage stamps, cigarette paper adhesive, and pyrotechnic operations. The sap is also being researched for a potential role in intestinal dialysis.

Herodotus mentions the use of the sap during embalming procedures in the fifth century in Egypt. In the ninth century, it was described as useful for poultices or compresses for the eye. During the 12th century, gum arabic was used as an item of commerce. African farmers sell the gum in local markets as a health remedy. People use it to help with stomach and intestinal problems, sore throats, eye issues, bleeding, and the common cold.

Acacia senegal, which is also referred to as gum acacia or gum arabic, is a tree native to parts of Africa and Asia. It has been used historically as a treatment for pain and irritation and is sometimes used for these purposes in modern medicine. This plant is also used to treat a variety of other conditions including bleeding, respiratory infections, and diseases that affect the internal organs. In the past, it has also been used as a treatment for low blood pressure.

In modern medicine, Acacia senegal is frequently used as a treatment for pain and irritation. It has a soothing effect on mucous membranes and may be taken orally if a patient has discomfort in the throat or stomach. Swallowing this herbal treatment puts it in direct contact with the digestive system, allowing it to work effectively. Similarly, Acacia senegal may also be placed on an external wound such as a cut or sore, where it works as a minor pain reliever and helps to prevent infection.

Dentists may also make use of the medical properties of Acacia senegal. Scientific studies have shown that it has anti-bacterial properties that specifically target periodontal bacteria. The use of this herbal treatment can help prevent cavities and gum disease by destroying harmful bacteria in the mouth. It also inhibits the growth of plaque on the teeth and patients may chew Acacia senegal as a gum in order to receive these medicinal benefits.

In the past, doctors have used Acacia senegal to raise a patient's blood pressure. It has been shown to effectively raise blood pressure when injected into a patient's veins. Though the treatment works, it can also cause potentially serious reactions and can lead to disease of the liver or kidneys. The adverse effects of this plant have led doctors to discontinue this use of it.

Historically, Acacia senegal has also been used in the treatment of a number of other disorders. In the Middle East, one of the regions where the plant is endemic, doctors would often prescribe this type of acacia to patients who suffered from intestinal disorders, leprosy, and gonorrhea. Though it does have antibiotic and anti-microbial properties that make it somewhat effective against these ailments, modern medical treatments are more reliable than Acacia senegal in the treatment of serious infections. The historical uses for this plant also included the treatment of minor gastrointestinal problems such as pain, indigestion, and diarrhea.

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