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Quassia Wood

Veterinarian Reviewed on January 9, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Quassia Wood


Quassia Wood (Picraena excelsa) is also known as Bitter Wood, Jamaica Quassia, Bitter Ash and Quassia Lignum. It is native to the island of Jamaica, the West Indies and is also found in Surinam and Guiana. It is a small tree that can grow from 50 to 100 feet in height. It has a grayish bark which is smooth in texture and has small yellow green flowers.

Quassia Wood is made from the trunk and the branches of the Quassia tree and these are the main parts of the plant that are used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. This tree has volatile oils, tars, minerals, salts and nitrates that make it an effective insecticide. Quassia Wood is found as the main component in various over the counter and commercial insecticide brands.

History and Origin

The name Quassia was believed to be from a man named Quassi of Surinam who first discovered the therapeutic effects of the Quassia Wood to reduce fever. He revealed his discovery to a Swedish historian, Daniel Rolander, in 1756. Specimens of the Quassia Wood were taken to Europe and were discovered to have many medicinal properties for the cure of fevers, gastrointestinal illnesses and many other ailments.

Ancient Uses

The Quassia tree was treated with great honor in the ancient cultures of the West Indies. Medicines and drinks were drunk from goblets that were made from Quassia Wood because it was believed that drinks would be much more potent. Water left for a few minutes in a Quassia Wood goblet turned bitter and was used to remedy many illnesses of the gastrointestinal system.

Modern Uses

During modern times, the discovery of the many properties of the Quassia Wood have led to its use in the treatment of fevers, colds, coughs and the flu. Because of its anti inflammatory properties, the Quassia Wood is used for the treatment of rheumatism. Joint pain, swelling, redness and immobility are also reduced with preparations made from this tree.

The Quassia Wood is also a treatment for intestinal worms. It can remove roundworms and pinworms. There are also studies regarding the effectiveness of the Quassia Wood to deter alcoholism; water left overnight in a cup with chips made from this tree creates a bitter tonic that is said to remedy alcohol intoxication.
Lotions and shampoos made from Quassia Wood are used to treat dandruff, lice and many other skin and hair conditions. The wood from this tree is also used as a bug spray for plants. It is also an effective bug killer at home and in the garden.

Side Effects

Quassia Wood preparations and supplements are not meant for pregnant and breastfeeding women. It is also not intended for very young children and babies.

Because of its very sour to bitter taste, it should be sweetened with sugar. It is also important to consult your doctor or naturopathic specialist regarding the use of Quassia Wood for your particular ailment or illness as it may cause adverse drug reactions with any medications you may be taking currently.
If used as an insecticide, make sure everyone stays out of the home and open windows to air the room after spraying. Never spray directly onto eating utensils and personal items.

Suggested Products

Parasite Gold

Read also: Bayberry Root Bark

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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