Tag Archives: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Simaruba amara

Botanical Name: Simaruba amara
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Simarouba
Species: S. amara
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms: Dysentery Bark. Mountain Damson. Bitter Damson. Slave Wood. Stave Wood. Sumaruppa. Maruba. Quassia Simaruba.

Part Used: Dried root-bark.

Habitat: French Guiana, the Islands of Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Barbados

Description:
The name given by the founder of the genus was Carib Simarouba, but later writers adopted the present spelling.

The tree is 60 feet or more in height, with many long, crooked branches covered with smooth, greyish bark, leaves 9 to 12 inches long, and flowers growing in small clusters, with rather thick, dull-white petals. The bark is usually found in pieces several feet long, the roots being long, horizontal, and creeping. Very often the outer bark has been removed, when it shows a pale yellowish or pinkish-brown surface. It is odourless, difficult to powder, and intensely bitter. It is usually imported from Jamaica, in bales.

Constituents: Simaruba root-bark contains a bitter principle identical with quassin, a resinous matter, a volatile oil having the odour of benzoin, malic acid, gallic acid in very small proportion, an ammoniacal salt, calcium malate and oxalate, some mineral salts, ferric oxide, silica, ulmin, and lignin.

It readily imparts its virtues at ordinary temperatures to water and alcohol. The infusion is as bitter as the decoction, whichbecomes turbid as it cools.

Medicinal Uses: A bitter tonic. It was first sent from Guiana to France in 1713 as a remedy for dysentery. In the years 1718 and 1725 an epidemic flux prevailed in France, which resisted all the usual medicines. Simaruba was tried with great success, and established its medical character in Europe. It restores the lost tone of the intestines, promotes the secretions, and disposes the patient to sleep. It is only successful in the latter stage of dysentery, when the stomach is not affected. In large doses it produces sickness and vomiting. On account of its difficult pulverization, it is seldom given in substance, the infusion being preferred, but like many bitter tonics, it is now seldom used. From its use, it has been called ‘dysentery bark.’

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simarouba_amara
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/simaru50.html

Picraena excelsa

Botanical Name :Picraena excelsa
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Picrasma
Species: P. excelsa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonym: Jamaica Quassia.

Common Names:Bitter Ash ,Picraena excelsa, Quassia undalata, Quassia amara

Habitat: Bitter Ash  is native to West Indies. It is found in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Description:
This is the Quassia excelsa of Linnaeus, though the genuine plant is the Quassia amara. The species amara is a large shrub, or low tree, inhabiting Surinam; while the excelsa is a lofty tree with a very large trunk, and is found in Jamaica and other portions of the West Indies.The tree grows from 50 to 100 feet in height and has smooth, gray bark.  “Leaves alternate, unequally pinnate; leaflets opposite, oblong, acuminate. Flowers polygamous; sepals five, minute; petals five, pale; stamens five. Racemes axillary toward the ends of the brandies, very compound, panicled, many-flowered. Fruit of three black, shining drupes the size of a pea, only one of which comes to perfection.”

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Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Wood of trunk and branches, dried

Quassia is tonic, stomachic and antiseptic, possessing all the properties that belong to the other pure bitters. It is employed in cases of anorexia for promoting the appetite and assisting the digestive functions. It is wholly devoid of all irritant, stimulant, or astringent properties, and hence has been regarded as the type of the pure bitters. Its use is mostly confined to atonic states of the system, with indigestion and loss of appetite.

It is an excellent remedy in dyspeptic conditions due to lack of tone. As with all bitters, it stimulates the production of saliva and digestive juices and so increases the appetite. It may safely be used in all cases of lack of appetite such as anorexia nervosa and digestive sluggishness. The wood has been used to prepare “qQuassia cups.” A Quassia cup is filled with hot water and the wqater is allowed to cool somewhat before being drunk. This results in a liquid that is very bitter and thus acts to stimulate the appetitie. Quassia cups can be used in this way for a number of years and will retain an ability to produce a bitter water extract.. It is used in the expulsion of threadworms and other parasites, both as an enema and an infusion. The herb’s bitterness has led to its being used as a treatment for malaria and other fevers, and in the Caribbean it is given for dysentery. Externally as a lotion it may be used against lice infestations.

Known Hazards;
Allergies:

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to quassia or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings:

*Quassia is likely safe when consumed in amounts found in foods and beverages. It has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the United States.

*Quassia appears to have a very mild side effects profile. The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting, due to its bitter taste. There have also been reports of mucous membrane irritation.

* Quassia may cause drowsiness or sedation. Use cautiously if driving or operating heavy machinery. Long-term use of quassia may cause vision changes and blindness

*Use cautiously with cardiac (heart) medications and blood thinners.

*Avoid in people who are pregnant, and in males and females trying to become pregnant due to quassia’s potential antifertility effects.

* Avoid intravenous use in cardiomyopathy (heart disease) patients.

Other Uses:
Quassia has been used by brewers as a substitute for hops and is in general use by gardeners, mixed with soft soap, for spraying plants affected with green-fly.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picrasma_excelsa
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashbi074.html
http://doctorschar.com/archives/quassia-picriena-excelsa/
http://www.appliedhealth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108436
http://www.thefreshcarrot.ca/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=5020E137E9014BC38944489AF1F99926&DocID=bottomline-quassia
http://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/cook/PICRAENA_EXCELSA.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm