Characterization of fresh and aged natural ingredients used in historical ointments by molecular spectroscopic techniques: IR, Raman and fluorescence
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Natural organic materials used to prepare pharmaceutical mixtures including ointments and balsams have been characterized by a combined non-destructive spectroscopic analytical approach. Three classes of materials which include vegetable oils (olive, almond and palm tree), gums (Arabic and Tragacanth) and beeswax are considered in this study according to their widespread use reported in ancient recipes. Micro-FTIR, micro-Raman and fluorescence spectroscopies have been applied to fresh and mildly thermally aged samples. Vibrational characterization of these organic compounds is reported together with tabulated frequencies, highlighting all spectral features and changes in spectra which occur following artificial aging. Synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy has been shown to be particularly useful for the assessment of changes in oils after aging; spectral difference between Tragacanth and Arabic gum could be due to variations in origin and processing of raw materials. Analysis of these materials using non-destructive spectroscopic techniques provided important analytical information which could be used to guide further study.
KeywordsOils Gums Beeswax FTIR Raman Fluorescence Non-destructive analysis
The authors thank the Italian MIUR for financial support of the project PRIN2007 “Colors and balms in antiquity: from the chemical study to the knowledge of technologies in cosmetics, painting and medicine” (Prot. 2007AKK9LX).
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