Other names: Bitter bark, bitter ash, bitter wood

Scientific name: Picrasma excelsa, picrasma excelsa

Common names:

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names: Kasturi

Arabic names:    الكواسية (al quassiah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Simarubaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Bark, or resin from bark


Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 50 to 100 feet

Actions: bitter, tonic, febrifuge, sialogogue, anthelmintic

Known constituents: glycosides, alkaloids

Constituents Explained:


Traditional Use:

Used as a digestive bitter.  Used to expel threadworms. Externally it is used on live.  The tea has been used as a tonic.1

Clinical Studies:

454 patients were treated with quassia tincture for head lice. At examination one week later only three patients had hatched lice. There was firm evidence that these patients had been reinfested. 

The treatment procedure was acceptable both to patients and to staff and no side-effects were observed. As resistance to clophenothane has appeared, alternative cures are needed.

This study confirms earlier reports on the effectiveness of quassia tincture, which seems to be a useful alternative to clophenothane. At present the recommended treatment is two applications with an interval of one week.


Jensen O, Nielsen AO, Bjerregaard P. “Pediculosis Capitis Treated With Quassia Tincture.” 1978 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/83089