The quassia has multiple therapeutic uses. Medicines prepared from the extracts of this tremendously astringent tree not only help to keep the digestive system stable, but also reinforces a scrawny digestive system. Among other things, quassia enhances the secretion of bile, salivary enzymes, production of stomach acids and perks up the digestive progression en bloc. In fact, quassia is normally used to invigorate a weak appetite, particularly while curing anorexia or constant loss of appetite. The bitterness of the herb has rendered it useful for treating malaria as well as other fevers or unusually high body temperatures. In the West Indies, physicians even recommend the use of quassia for treating dysentery. On the other hand, enema (liquid inserted through the rectum into the bowels) prepared from the bark of the quassia tree has been effectually used to throw out threadworms and other parasites from the body. In addition, decoction prepared with the quassia bark may be effectively used to repel insects and pests. Quassia that is normally available in the shops is in the form of chips or raspings (like fine bread crumbs). These products do not possess any fragrance, but are extremely bitter to taste. And this particular characteristic of quassia distinguishes the herb from the adulterated substances sold in the market as quassia. Infusion prepared with these quassia chips and raspings with a persalt of iron imparts a bluish-black color. However, this produces no result in the infusion as the blue colored quassia flakes do not enclose any tannin acid. The quassia wood has multiple benefits. It is an unadulterated stimulant that is associated with the stomach. At the same time, it is an effective vermicide (a drug that kills worms) and mildly narcotic (a substance that soothes or induces sleep). In flies and some higher animals, quassia performs as narcotic venom. At the same time, quassia is a precious medication for recuperation, especially after an acute ailment and also in debility or feebleness, and atonic dyspepsia or unstressed acid indigestion or an anti-spasmodic fever. Since quassia does not enclose any tannic acid, the herb is often prescribed with substances containing iron salt. Prescribing quassia with iron salts also makes it a perfumed, but bitter medicine for stomach disorders, much akin to the functions of calumba. What is significant about quassia is the fact that when it is administered in small doses, the herb helps in improving appetite, but when used in larger dosages, it proves to be an irritant and leads to vomiting. The quassia possibly reduces disintegration in the stomach and thereby avoids development of tart during digestion. A decoction of quassia or the extraction of the active constituents of the herb by boiling the wood is often used by the herbal medicine practitioners as an injection to do away with ascarides. On the other hand, to prepare an enema for throwing out ascarides from the body, blend three parts of quassia to one part of another herb called the mandrake root. When the mixture is ready, add one fluid ounce of asafoetida or diluted carbolic acid to each ounce of the quassia and mandrake root for treating children up to 3 years and two fluid ounces are injected into the rectum twice every day. Cups made out of quassia wood and filled with water may be administered as a useful and potent tonic after it has been left undisturbed for a few hours. An infusion prepared by soaking the quassia wood in cold water for approximately 12 hours may be taken thrice daily with ginger tea. This is beneficial for weak people owing to absence of appetite or lack of food and is effectual in treating the damaged digestive tract. In addition, quassia mixed with sulfuric acid is effective in curing alcoholism. This mixture is said to destroy the appetite for alcohols. In addition to these, quassia has several other remedial benefits and it may also be applied externally to treat certain physical disorders. The quassia as well as medications or lotions prepared with it may be applied externally to get rid of lice on the body.
Quassia is indigenous to the tropical regions of America and the Caribbean islands. The quassia tree normally prefers to grow in the forests and closer to water bodies. Basically, the tree is cultivated commercially for its therapeutic benefits and the bark of the tree, which is of most value, may be harvested all through the year.
Quassia contains quassinoid bitter principles (including quassin), alkaloids, a coumarin (scopoletin), and vitamin B1. Some of the quassinoids have cytotoxic (cell-killing) and antileukemic actions.
The bark of the quassia tree may be used internally as well as externally to treat different ailments. While it may be ingested as a cold infusion and tincture, externally the medication may be used as an enema. Cold Infusion: To prepare an infusion with the wood of the quassia tree, add approximately half to one teaspoonful of the tree's bark in one cup of cold water and leave it to soak for a night. For best results, the infusion should be drunk thrice every day. Enema: A cold infusion prepared with one part of the quassia wood to 20 parts of water may be used as an enema and applied through the rectum into the bowels for effective results. Tincture: Half or one ml of the tincture prepared with the bark of quassia tree may be ingested thrice every day.
After the quassia tree is felled, crumbs of the wood or raspings are gathered and stored for future use. The dehydrated crumbs of the quassia wood are used as medications for different disorders and applied as cold infusion, enema and tincture.
The quassia is very effective in treating acid ingestion. In such conditions, for effective results the wood from the quassia tree may be used along with other herbs such as meadowsweet, marshmallow root as well as hops.