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---Constituents---Agar-Agar contains glose, which is a powerful gelatinizing agent. It is precipitated from solution by alcohol. Glose is a carbohydrate. Acetic, hydrochloric and oxalic acids prevent gelatinization of Agar-Agar.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Agar-Agar is widely used as a treatment for constipation, but is usually employed with Cascara when atony of the intestinal muscles is present. It does not increase peristaltic action. Its therapeutic value depends on the ability of the dry Agar to absorb and retain moisture. Its action is mechanical and analogous to that of the cellulose of vegetable foods, aiding the regularity of the bowel movements. It is sometimes used as an adulterant of jams and jellies.
---Dosage and Preparations---It is usually administered in small shreds mixed with fruit, milk or any convenient vehicle. It is not wise to give it in powder, as this gives rise to irritation in some cases. 1/2 to 1 ounce may be taken at a time. 1 ounce to a pint of boiling water makes a suitable jelly for invalids and may be flavoured with lemon.
---Other Species---Ceylon Agar-Agar, or Agal Agal, which is the native name of Gracillaria lichenoides, is largely used in the East for making soups and jellies. Gigartina speciosa, a variety found on the Swan River, was erroneously supposed to have formed the edible swallow's nest, but it has been ascertained that this delicacy comes from a peculiar secretion in the birds themselves. Macassar Agar-Agar comes from the straits between Borneo and Celebes and consists of impure Euchema Spinolum incrusted with salt.
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