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Alstonia Scholaris

USES.—The trunk bark is a febrifuge of great importance; it is official in the Pharmacopoeia of India and is widely used in the Philippines.

USES.—The trunk bark is a febrifuge of great importance; it is official in the Pharmacopoeia of India and is widely used in the Philippines. Personally I have had occasion to use it in several cases of malarial fever in the town of San Mateo near Manila. It is astringent, anthelmintic and antiperiodic, highly useful in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, not only for its astringent effects but for its tonic and restorative action. As a tonic it gives as good results as quinine. The dry powdered bark is given internally in wafers of 20–30 centigrams. The infusion is prepared from 15 grams of the dry comminuted bark to 300 of water. The dose is 30–60 grams 2 or 3 times a day.

Another convenient preparation is the tincture, 75 grams of the powdered bark macerated 7 days in 500 grams of alcohol, shaking from time to time. It is then filtered and enough alcohol added to make up the 500 cc. The dose is 4–8 grams a day.

I have often used the following wine as a tonic for convalescents and patients suffering from general debility: Finely powdered bark, 25 grams, muscatel or dry sherry one bottle; macerate a week, shaking every day, and filter; dose ½ wineglass with equal parts water a few minutes before each meal; children or very weak patients should take it after eating; it should always be diluted.

G. Grupe, a Manila pharmacist, treating the bark in 1883 by the same process as that used in the preparation of quinine, obtained a bitter substance which he named Ditaine. According to Grupe Dr. Pina used this substance with great success in the treatment of malarial fevers, but neither Grupe’s report nor Pina’s experiment are of any scientific value, inasmuch as they have neglected to mention the doses in which the so-called alkaloid was employed. Later analyses by Hesse and Jobst revealed several principles: two alkaloids ditamine (C16H19NO2), soluble in ether; Ditaine or Echitamine (C22H28NO4 + H2O) insoluble in ether, soluble in water; acetic acid and two amorphous substances dextrogyrous in ethereal solution, one of them a resin, Echicauchina (C25H40O2), the other neutral, Echiretin (C35H56O2); two crystallizable principles, dextrogyrous: Echicerin (C30H48O2), Echitein (C42H70O2) and Echitin (C32H52O2).

Ditaine is employed under the same circumstances and in the same dose as quinine. (The Hindoo writer, K. L. Dey, states that the plant yields an inferior quality of gutta-percha.) BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A tree, 50 or more feet high, the trunk covered with small eminences resembling the scars of thorns. Branches radiating. Leaves radiating, 5, 6 or more, somewhat elliptical in form, pointed at the apex. Petioles very short, with a pointed glandule on the inner surface of the base. Flowers white, terminal, in umbellate racemes. Calyx very short, 5-toothed. Corolla twisted, tubular, the limb 5-lobuled; throat open, encircled with down. Stamens 5, hidden within the throat and inserted on the tube. Filaments almost wanting.

Anthers arrow-shaped. Style as long as the stamens, somewhat flattened, a scarcely visible line throughout its length. Stigma bifid, placed above a cylindrical zone, two follicles, 1° long and 1″ thick, twisted like a string, containing the seeds in a row. Seeds cylindrical with a hairy awn at both ends.

HABITAT.—In the forests of Luzon, especially in Batangas. Blooms in April.

Reference book: The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines

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