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Gum tragacanth is a viscous, odorless, tasteless, water-soluble mixture of polysaccharides obtained from sap that is drained from the root of the plant and dried. The gum seeps from the plant in twisted ribbons or flakes that can be powdered. It absorbs water to become a gel, which can be stirred into a paste. The major fractions are known as tragacanthin, highly water soluble as a mucilaginous colloid, and the chemically related bassorin, which is far less soluble but swells in water to form a gel. The gum is used in vegetable-tanned leatherworking as an edge slicking and burnishing compound, and is occasionally used as a stiffener in textiles. The gum has been used historically as a herbal remedy for such conditions as cough and diarrhea.