Habitat & Cultivation : Originating from tropical America and the Caribbean, quassia thrives in forested areas and near water. Primarily cultivated for medicinal purposes, this plant sees its bark harvested consistently throughout the year.
Part Used : Bark.
Constituents : Quassia is comprised of quassinoid bitter principles, including quassin, alkaloids, a coumarin known as scopoletin, and vitamin B1. Certain quassinoids within quassia have demonstrated cytotoxic (cell-killing) and anti-leukemic actions, indicating potential therapeutic properties.
History & Folklore : The introduction of Quassia bark to Europe occurred in 1756 from Surinam, which was then a Dutch colony. The herb derived its name from Quassi, a native healer, who shared insights with Europeans about its therapeutic benefits.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : The intensely bitter quassia is known for its ability to support and fortify weakened digestive systems. It enhances bile flow, increases the secretion of salivary juices and stomach acid, thereby improving the overall digestive process. Quassia is frequently employed to stimulate the appetite, particularly in addressing conditions like anorexia. Its bitterness has led to historical use for malaria and fevers, and it is administered in the Caribbean to alleviate dysentery. The bark, in the form of an enema, has been historically used to expel threadworms and other parasites. Additionally, a decoction of the bark may serve as an insect repellent and a treatment for head lice.