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Roughbark

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  • Botanical: Guaiacum officinale
  • Family: Zygophyllaceae
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Roughbark

Botanical

Guaiacum officinale

Family

Zygophyllaceae

Known as

Guajacum officinale, Roughbark Lignum-vitae, Guaiacwood, Gaïacwood, Guajak

Parts Used

bark, resin, wood

Medicinal

abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, circulation, diarrhea, digestion, gastrointestinal, gout, laxative, indigestion, rheumatism

Heart & Circulation

circulation

Muscle & Joints

arthritis, gout, rheumatism

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, gastritis, laxative

Properties

antispasmodic, diaphoretic, digestive, hypotensive, stimulant

Description

This small tree is very slow growing, reaching about 10 m in height with a trunk diameter of 60 cm. The tree is essentially evergreen throughout most of its native range. The leaves are compound, 2.5 to 3 cm in length, and 2 cm wide. The blue flowers have five petals that yield a bright-yellow-orange fruit with red flesh and black seeds.

Properties & Uses

The wood is very little used in medicine; it obtained a great reputation about the sixteenth century, when it was brought into notice as a cure for syphilis and other diseases; later on the resin obtained from the wood was introduced and now is greatly preferred, for medicinal use, to the wood. The wood is sometimes sold by chemists in the form of fine shavings, and as such called Lignum Vitae, which are turned green by exposure to the air, and bluish green by the action of nitric fumes. This test proves its genuiness. It is a mild laxative and diuretic. For tonsilitis it is given in powdered form. Specially useful for rheumatoid arthritis, also in chronic rheumatism and gout, relieving the pain and inflammation between the attacks, and lessening their recurrence if doses are continued. It acts as an acrid stimulant, increasing heat of body and circulation; when the decoction is taken hot and the body is kept warm, it acts as a diaphoretic, and if cool as a diuretic. Also largely used for secondary syphilis, skin diseases and scrofula.

Cautions

None known.

Distribution

native to the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America

Constituents

Resin acids (15-20%) (guaiazulene, guaiaconic, guaianetic and guaiacic), saponins, polyterpenoid, vanillin, lignans (containing essential oil guajol), sterols

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.