The Quassia, also called Quassia amara or Bitterwood, is a tree known for its medicinal properties. Medically used are leaves, wood and bark.

Occurrence & cultivation of Quassia

Quassia amara is a rather small tree. He will not be much taller than six feet. The Quassia tree belongs to the family Bittereschengewäschse ( Simaroubaceae ) and is mainly native to South and Central America, in the West Indies, in the southern parts of Mexico and at the southern tip of Florida. This growth area is also called neotropic in biogeography. Quassia amara is a rather small tree. He will not be much taller than six feet.

The bark is greyish and smooth. On the branches alternate stalked and feathered leaves. The flowers of the Quassia tree are red or flesh-colored and arranged in racemose inflorescences. The tree produces fruits that are reminiscent of olives in their shape. When these red drupes are ripe, they contain black seeds.

Effect & application

Leaves, wood and bark can be used medically. In most cases, however, the dried wood is used. Main active ingredients of the tree are its bitter substances. Here are mainly quassin and neoquassin to emphasize. Furthermore, quassiaholz contains quassinol, amarolides, salts and minerals and, to a lesser extent, essential oils. Thus, the quassia tree belongs mainly to the drug group of bittering agents.

But also as Roborans, that is, as a fortifying and tonics, and as a gastrointestinal, pancreatic and liver medicines Quassia is used. The main indication for administration of Quassia is a gastrointestinal weakness, also called atony. A gastrointestinal weakness can manifest itself in the form of loss of appetite and indigestion.

Here the quassia tree helps with its appetite-promoting effect. The contained bitter substances stimulate the liver and pancreas and thus promote the secretion of digestive juices and digestive enzymes. The gallbladder is also stimulated to release bile acids. In general, bitter substances are rather stimulating, so that Quassia can also be used in general weakness and sensory neurological weakness (neurasthenia).

As already mentioned, Quassia belongs to the Roborantien because of its strengthening and fortifying effects. Therefore, Quassiarinde and Quassia wood are also used in convalescence after debilitating diseases. Quassiaria should also be helpful in a sweaty weakness.

Furthermore, Quassia amara is also used in liver disease, especially in cirrhosis. Proven here is the administration of three times daily five drops of Quassia mother tincture. Quassia has also proved to be a good antihelmonic, ie worm, in pinworm (oxyuren). Traditionally, suppositories with quassia were used for deworming. This is rather uncommon today.

Due to its extremely bitter taste Quassia is also used to wean the nail chewing. For this, the mother tincture is simply applied to the nails. Especially children do not like the bitter taste at all and therefore refrain from chewing the nails when applied tincture.

The Quassiarinde can be used in various dosage forms. Quassia tea is preferably cold, as the extract content of the cold extraction is higher. A teaspoonful of quassia wood is added to a glass of cold water for the cold batch. The mixture should draw for about two hours and then can be strained and drunk. Many Quassia finished medicinal products are available in the market in the form of mono or combined preparations.

Also homeopathic dilutions and tablets are to acquire. The homeopathic remedy Quassia is used as well as the gross version of indigestion and is also a typical liver remedy in homeopathy. The main symptoms of the homeopathic Quassiamittel are an unusual tapping in the abdomen, digestive weakness, an inner feeling of cold and the painful feeling as if the stomach was filled with hot water.

Characteristically, the symptoms, especially the pain, worsen due to deep inhalation. The usual exponentiations are D2, D3, D4 and D6. Quassia is also part of some spagyric medicines. Quassia is contraindicated during pregnancy, lactation, and ulcers in the stomach and intestines.

Importance for Health, Treatment & Prevention

The bark and wood of the Quassia tree have been used by the indigenous peoples of Brazil for many centuries as an appetite and digestive stimulant. Quassia is first mentioned in writing by the Frenchman Labat. He reports in 1696 of a bitter wood, which grows on the island of Martinique. Twenty years later, the doctor Philipp Fermin discovered that the Quassiablüten have a positive effect on stomach diseases.

In Europe, the Quassiarinde was known as a remedy, especially by Linnaeus. Linnaeus named the tree after a slave named Qassi. In 1788, bark, wood and root were added to the London Pharmacopoeia. Further mentions in European pharmacopoeias followed. The Quassiarinde received its positive reputation as a liver remedy mainly through Rademacher and his expertise.

Quassia is rarely used today in conventional medicine, but in traditional medicine, preferably in the homeopathic dosage form, the traditional use of the bitter substance drug is continued. The indications are still similar today to the indications of earlier. For gastrointestinal diseases, liver disease and weakness, Quassia is still used. However, medical studies show that Quassia also works outside of these areas of application.

For example, some studies have shown Quassia to be effective against Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria. As a malaria treatment, the bark is currently not used. Since quassia overdose may cause nausea and vomiting, Quassia should only be taken in consultation with a doctor or alternative practitioner.


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