Pharmaceutical potential

Quassinoids and limonoids: A classical example of ornamental Sima-roubaceae is Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (tree of heaven). Quassinoids and limonoids impart to Simaroubaceae an intense bitterness used in Western medicine to promote digestion and appetite. Quassia amara L. (Surinam quassia) has been used as a bitter tonic. The dried stem wood of Picrasma excelsa (Aeschrion Excelsa, Picraena excelsa) was used (infusion 1-20 in cold water) to promote digestion, stimulate appetite, expel intestinal worms, and treat pediculosis (Quassia, British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1973). A decoction or infusion (1 in 20) of the dried root bark of Simaruba amara (Simaruba officinalis) has been used to stimulate appetite, and to curb diarrhea (Simaruba, British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1934).

In regard to the pharmacological properties of Simaroubaceae, a number of experiments conducted in vitro and in vivo have demonstrated that quassinoids of Brucea, Ailanthus, Simarouba, Castela and Simaba species are cytotoxic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and amebicidal. Bruceantin, for instance, inhibits the growth of a large panel of cancer cells cultured in vitro. Several quassinoids are antimalarial in vitro at very low doses (IC50 < 0.02 ^g/mL). Glaucarubin is one such example. It is a glycoside obtained from the fruit of Simaruba glauca, which has been used to treat intestinal amebiasis (3mg/Kg/day in divided doses for 5-10 days). Glaucarubin (Martindale, 1967), obtained from the fruits of Simaruba glauca, has been used to treat intestinal amebiasis at a dose of 3mg/Kg daily for 10 days. In the Asia-Pacific,

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Bruceantine

Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle (Ailanthus glandulosa Desf., Ailanthus giraldii Dode), Brucea javanica (L.) Merr. (Brucea amarissima (lour.) Desv. ex Gomes, Brucea sumatrana Roxb., Gonus amarissimus Lour.), Eurycoma longifolia Jack, Harrisonia perforata (Blco.) Merr. (Harrisonia paucijuga (Benn.) Oliv.), Picrasma javanica Bl., Picrasma quassinoides (D.Don) Benn. (Picrasma alanthoides (Bge.) Planch.), Quassia indica (Gaertn.) Nootebom (Samadera indica Gaertn.), and Soulamea amara Lamk. are of medicinal value. These are often used to treat amebiasis and malaria, to counteract putrefaction and to combat fever. It will be interesting to learn whether a more intensive study of the Simaroubaceae will reveal any molecules of chemotherapeutic interest.

Chinese Herbs

Chinese Herbs

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