The quassia plant gets its name from Quassi, a Guyanese native slave who, in 1756, revealed his secret for healing fever to a Dutch officer who protected him. The secret was this plant, which is a Guyanese shrub.
Quassia Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Bitter ash, bitter wood.
- French: Quassie-amere.
- Spanish: Cuasia.
- Environment: It grows wild and is cultivated in the West Indies, Guyana, Suriname, and tropical regions of Central America.
- Description: Shrub or tree of the Simaroubaceae family, with large red flowers growing in terminal clusters.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The bark of the trunk and the root.
Healing Properties and Warning
The plant contains resin, mucilage, pectin, tannin, and an alkaloid called quassine, with a bitter flavor. This is its most crucial active component to which the plant owes its properties and indications.
- Stomachic invigorator, digestive, and appetizer: It increases gastric juice secretion and promotes the gall bladder’s functioning.
- Febrifuge: This plant is beneficial in treating tropical fever.
- Vermifuge: When applied as an enema, it eliminates oxyuridae (parasites) usually located in the anus and rectum, where orally taken medicines cannot act.
WARNING! In high doses, this plant can produce vomiting. It should be avoided in the case of gastroduodenal ulcers and during menstruation (it provokes uterine colic).
After discovering the quassia amara, another similar tree was found in Jamaica with the same healing properties, however, more potent. This tree was called Jamaican Quassia (Picraena excelsa L.).
How to use Quassia
- Decoction of the cold extract with 5-10g of bark and/or wood per liter of water. Drink a cup before each meal.
- Enema: With the same decoction used internally, apply an enema once a day as a vermifuge.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 467. Print. [quassia plant]