Almaciga herbal medicine




Agathus alba (Lam.) Foxw.

Dammara alba Lam.

Agathis loranthifolia Salisb.

Dammara rumphii Presl.

Podocarpus philippeanus Benth.

Agathis borneensis Warb.

Agathis beccarii Warb.

Agathis celebica Warb.

Agathis macrostachys Warb.

Local names: Adiangau (Bik.); alinsago (Ig.); almaciga (Sp.); alintagau (Ig.); aninga (Ig.); anano (S.L., Bis.); anting (Neg.); aringa (Klg.); bagtik (Kuy.); balau (C.Bis.); baltik (Tagb.); bidiangau (P.Bis.); badiangau (P.Bis.); biayo (Bis.); bunsog (Ig.); buntog (Ig.); dadiangau (C.Bis., Tag.); dadungoi (Bik.) dinar (Bag.); gala-gala (Tag., Tagb.); ladiangau (Bik., Tag.); makau (C.Bis.); olinsago (Ig.); salang (Neg.); saleng (Neg.); salong (Tag., Bik.); titau (Ting.); uli (Sbl.) uningat (Ilk.).

Almaciga is almost invariably present in the primary forests, chiefly at medium and higher altitudes, from the Babuyan Islands and northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao, and in most other islands and provinces. It also occurs in Indo-China, through the Malay Peninsula, and from the Archipelago to the Moluccas.

Almaciga is a large tree with a pyramidal crown and whorled branches, reaching a height of 50 to 60 meters. The leaves are simple, opposite or nearly so, leathery in texture, oblong-lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, obtuse, 3 to 9.5 centimeters long, 1 to 2.5 centimeters wide. The male cones are 1.5 to 5 centimeters long, and cylindric-oblong. The female cones are 2.5 to 5 centimeters in diameter, globose or ovoid; the scales are broadly cuneate, 1 to 1.5 centimeters across. The seeds are about 1 centimeter long, including the falcate decurved obtuse wing.

Almaciga belongs to the same family and to the same genus as the “kauri pine” (Agathis australis) of New Zealand. The latter yields a resin similar to almaciga and one, which has long been important in the industries. The resin of Agathis philippinensis is found in the bark, and oozes out whenever the latter is cut (surface resin). Occasionally lumps of resin are found in the forks of branches, and large masses-the so-called fossil (mineral) resins-are found in the ground. According to Hyde true copals are hard, lustrous, yellow, brown, or nearly white, and more or less insoluble by melting before being made into varnish. The copals are resins, which contain resenes.

Bottler and Sabin state that the copals contain, moreover, ethereal oils, which are driven off by melting or distillation; a bitter principle; and a coloring matter. Zanzibar and Cameroon copals consist mainly of resin acids and resenes; Manila copals are composed mostly of resin acids, but they contain more resene (12 per cent) than those of Zanzibar (6 per cent).


Almaciga has been the subject of a number of investigations by the Bureau of Science.

Analysis devised by Richmond of one hundred parts o crude resin gave the following results:


Insoluble in absolute alcohol                   0.5

Soluble in alcoholic potash                   40.0

Insoluble in alcoholic potash                 41.5

Neutral oil soluble in alcohol and volatile with steam     6.0

Neutral resin partially souluble in alcohol and volatile with steam  10.

Water, etc undetermined                        2.0


These results confirm the conclusion of Tschirch that Manila copal consists mainly of amorphous-free resin acids, and contains a neutral resin indifferent to alkalies, and volatile oil.

The principal products obtained by Brooks through distilling Manila copal up to a temperature of 330o are given in the table below:

Substances given off by Manila copal during the first stage of the decomposition, up to 330o


Carbon dioxide 3.2

Water     2.4

Formic acid and acetic acid each 0.5

aldehyde, acetyl formaldehyde, furfuraldehyde, methyl alcohol

and acetone  0.2

gaseous hydrocarbons 0.2

pinene, limonene, dipentene, B-pinene, and camphene, 1.5-11.2

Resin oil variable 3.0-6.0


The resin is official in German (2,3); Austrian (7); Danish (6); Spanish (7); Finnish (4); Mexican (2); Russian (1-6) Pharmacopoeias.


The chief value of Agathis philippinensis lies in the resin (almaciga, or Manila copal), which it yields. Locally this is employed as incense in religious ceremonies, and for torches, to facilitate starting fires, for caulking boats, as smudge for mosquitoes, etc. It is exported in considerable quantities, chiefly for use in the manufacture of high-grade varnish, but also for other processes, such as making patent leather and sealing wax. Almaciga is suitable, according to Richmond, for the manufacture of cheap soaps and for paper sizing. Fox worthy reports that in Malaya the resin is used in liniment.


Source: BPI

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