Corkwood Tree: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Precautions

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Corkwood Tree (Quassia amara)


Corkwood tree, scientific name Quassia amara, is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to the Caribbean and South America. It belongs to the family Simaroubaceae, which includes several other species with medicinal properties. Corkwood tree has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat various health conditions, including malaria, fever, and digestive disorders.


Modern research has confirmed some of the traditional uses of corkwood tree and identified additional potential benefits. These include:

  • Malaria: Quassin, a bitter compound found in the bark of the tree, has been shown to have antimalarial activity. It can be effective in reducing symptoms and preventing the development of resistance to other antimalarial drugs.
  • High blood pressure: The bark of the tree has also been found to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. It works by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow.
  • Digestive disorders: Corkwood tree extract has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it useful for treating digestive disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery, and indigestion.
  • Cancer: Studies suggest that quassin may have anti-cancer effects. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells, including those of the colon, prostate, and breast.
  • Pain relief: Quassin has analgesic properties and has been used traditionally to relieve pain from headaches, toothaches, and other conditions.
  • Antiparasitic: Corkwood tree extract has been shown to be effective against certain types of parasites, such as those that cause malaria and giardiasis.
  • Antibacterial: Quassin has been shown to have antibacterial properties against a variety of bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

How it Works

The primary active ingredient in corkwood tree is quassin, a bitter compound that gives the bark its characteristic taste. Quassin has a number of pharmacological effects, including:

  • Antimalarial: Quassin blocks the growth of the malaria parasite in the blood.
  • Antihypertensive: Quassin relaxes blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Quassin inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators, reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Antimicrobial: Quassin has antibacterial and antiparasitic properties, killing or inhibiting the growth of these microorganisms.
  • Anticancer: Quassin has been shown to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.

Forms and Dosage

Corkwood tree is available in several forms, including:

  • Bark: The bark of the tree is the most commonly used part for medicinal purposes. It can be taken in the form of tea, decoction, or tincture.
  • Extract: Corkwood tree extract is a concentrated form of the bark and is available in capsules or liquid form.
  • Powder: The dried powder of the bark can be added to food or drinks.

The dosage of corkwood tree varies depending on the form and the condition being treated. It is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed and tolerated.

Side Effects

Corkwood tree is generally considered safe for most people when used in appropriate doses. However, it can cause some side effects, such as:

  • Bitter taste: Quassin gives corkwood tree its characteristic bitter taste, which some people may find unpalatable.
  • Nausea and vomiting: High doses of corkwood tree can cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Headache: Some people may experience headaches after taking corkwood tree.
  • Allergic reactions: Rare cases of allergic reactions to corkwood tree have been reported.


  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Corkwood tree should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it can potentially cause miscarriage or harm the baby.
  • Liver disease: People with liver disease should avoid using corkwood tree, as it can increase liver toxicity.
  • Drug interactions: Corkwood tree may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and antidepressants. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using corkwood tree if you are taking any medications.
  • Toxicity: High doses of corkwood tree can be toxic and should be avoided.


Corkwood tree is a versatile herb with a long history of medicinal use. Modern research has confirmed its traditional uses and identified new potential benefits. However, it is important to use corkwood tree cautiously, following recommended dosages and precautions. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal supplement, including corkwood tree, to ensure its safety and efficacy in your individual situation.

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