Chemical Composition of South American Burseraceae Non-volatile Oleoresins and Preliminary Solubility Assessment of their Commercial Blend


A. C. Siani, Departamento de Produtos Naturais, Instituto de Tecnologia em Fármacos, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, 21041–250 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. E-mail:



Non-volatile oleoresins from neotropical Burseraceae are traditionally used for craft, technological and medicinal purposes. The crude resin is usually sold in popular markets of the forest communities. Adding value to this rainforest raw material requires establishing its composition.


To analyse the resin composition from different Burseraceae species and establish a minimally reproducible profile by gas chromatography, in order to parameterise its quality control.


Crude oleoresin samples of 10 Protium and Trattinnickia species and a commercial blend were subjected to hydrodistillation to remove volatile compounds. The chloroform-soluble residues were methylated, analysed by GC-FID (flame ionisation detection), and individual components were identified by analysing their mass fragmentation pattern in GC-MS and comparison with data from the literature. The blend solubility was assayed in 30 non-chlorinated solvents at three different proportions.


The resins consisted exclusively of triterpenes, showing a common predominance of four major compounds in all the samples, corresponding to α-amyrin, β-amyrin, α-amyrenone and β-amyrenone. This profile was complemented with minor amounts of the tetracyclic β-elemolic and α-elemolic acids, maniladiol, brein and other oxidised trace compounds. The better solvents for the resin were those chemically bearing more than four carbon atoms, as n-butyl acetate, 2-ethoxyethanol and isopropanol. The crude resin blend sold contained around 10% of insoluble material that was constituted by up to 70% inorganic residues mixed with humic acid derivatives, as attested by ash analysis and IR spectroscopy, respectively.


The experimental results, complemented by a general inspection of the literature, demonstrated a systematically reproducible triterpene profile in Protium and Trattinnickia species. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.