Tragacanth gum comes from a thorny shrub which is native to western Asia, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East. It is a tree gum like myrrh, frankincense and balm of Gilead, and can be used, along with the stems of the plant as incense. It comes from a number of Astragalus species, but the one which produces the best quality gum is Astragalus gummifer or gummifera. The gum exudes naturally from the roots of the plant and from incisions made in the stem. This is collected and when dried forms crystals of flakes or may be formed into blocks. The plant is a member of the pea family of plants, Fabaceae, and produces pods like other members of the Leguminous family such as carob trees.
The shrub is pollinated by bees and butterflies and is a useful nitrogen-fixing plant. You may think you have never eaten gum Tragacanth, but the odds are that you have as it is a food additive known in the food industry as E 413. It is used as a thickening agent in sauces, ice cream and confectionery, and is also used in the cosmetics industry. It helps bind other ingredients together.
It is also used in the textile industry to thicken dyes for fabric, to make glue, for water colors and to produce the gloss in ink, among other uses including the manufacture of paper.
1. Tragacanth is more resistant to acid hydrolysis than other hydro colloids and is preferred in the preparation of acidic compounds. It has also been used as a binder and stabilizer in preparing cosmetics and hand lotions, to stiffen cloth, as a glue in bookbinding, and in making candy and other products . The herb is used as well in denture adhesives and toothpastes and as a bulk-forming laxative . In African folk medicine, tragacanth is used as a mild laxative; the leaves are used to prepare a first aid lotion .
2. Also used in Constipation,Diarrhea.
3. Externally the gum has been used in traditional medicine for dressing burns, and it is now believed that it might have anti-tumor properties, and could stimulate the immune system.
4. Gond Katira Drink-> For Summer
1 small piece of gond katira, or Tragacanth gum, soaked in water overnight
1 tbsp juice of fresh lemon, optional
1 glass water
1 tbsp sugar
When the crystals have swollen and turned gelatinous take one or two small fragments and mix in cold water with the sugar and lemon juice if using and add ice.
Drink while cool.