Two varieties of Quassia Amara (Picrasma excelsa) are used commercially: a West Indian large tree, growing to over 30 meters, with thick upright trunk, and pinnate, oblong leaves, yellow/green, small flower spikes and pea size, shiny, black seed capsules.
The second variety is a smaller tree grown in Surinam, Brazil, Columbia and the West Indies. It is said the 2 trees have identical properties.
The active constituents in Quassia are a group of alkaloids known as quassinoids. Quassinoids have been shown to be rapid and potent inhibitors of protozoal protein synthesis, disrupting both replication and essential metabolic processes.
A time-honored folk remedy from the West Indies, for fevers, malaria, snakebite, dyspepsia, venereal diseases, rheumatism, alcoholism, intestinal worms (pinworms, ascarides), cancer, as a stomach bitter for indigestion, amebic dysentery, giardiasis, and gallbladder pain.
For many years, Quassia was the most famous fever remedy in the world, until the appearance of synthetic drugs. Today, it is used, or remembered, as a treatment to kill lice in the hair of children.
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