Gum arabic, also known as gum acacia, chaar gund, char goond or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia Senegal and Acacia seyal. It is dried exudates obtained from the stems and branches of Acacia tree. Gum Arabic consists mainly of high-molecular weight polysaccharides, glycoproteins and their calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts, which on hydrolysis yield arabinose, galactose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid. Items of commerce may contain extraneous materials such as sand and pieces of bark, which must be removed before use in food. Gum contains Arabic acid combined with calcium. Magnesium and potassium, also a small quantity of malic acid, sugar, moisture and ash. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, although cheaper materials compete with it for many of these roles.
Gum is nutritive tonic, particularly useful in diabetes and for relieving irritation of inflamed mucous membrane of pharynx, alimentary canal and genito-urinary organs and aphrodisiac in case of sexual debility. Acacia arabica has been used in traditional herbal healing as either an astringent or an antidiarrheal. It has been investigated for use in intestinal dialysis. Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics also use the gum as a binder, emulsifying agent and a suspending or viscosity increasing agent.
Gum arabic is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414. It remains an important ingredient in soft drink syrups, “hard” gummy candies such as gumdrops, marshmallows, M & M’s chocolate candies and edible glitter, very popular, modern cake-decorating staple. Gum made into a confection by frying it with ghee, sugar and spices is given as a nutritive tonic.