Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanica: Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae

Synonyms: Quebracho Bark. Quebracho-blanco.
Part Used: Bark.
Habitat: Chile and Argentina, Bolivia, Southern Brazil.

History: Quebracho is an evergreen tree which sometimes rises to 100 feet, with an erect stem and wide-spreading crown. The wood of all the species of this genus is valuable, and the name is due to its hardness, being derived from two Spanish words, quebrar and hacha, meaning 'the axe breaks.' It is used for tanning.

The bark was not introduced into Europe until 1878, though was for long used in South America as a febrifuge. Commercially, it is met with in large, thick pieces covered on the outside with a very thick and rough, corky layer of a greyish-brown colour, and deeply divided by furrows and excavations. The inner bark is greyish or yellowish, smooth or somewhat fibrous, and often with small, black spots. The taste is very bitter, but there is scarcely any odour.

Two other plants are known as Quebracho: Schinopsis Lorenzii, the wood of which is sold in commerce as 'quebracho wood,' and Iodina rhombifolia, 'quebracho flojo,' the wood and bark of which are sometimes substituted for the 'quebracho colorado.'

Constituents: Contains six alkaloids: Aspidospermine, Aspidospermatine, Aspidosamine, Quebrachine, Hypoquebrachine and Quebrachamine. All agree that quebrachine is the most active.

Two new sugars, quebrachite and laevogyrate inosite, tannin and starch have also been extracted.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Tonic, febrifuge and anti-asthmatic.

When a preparation of Quebracho or Aspidosperma is injected into the circulation, the rate and depth of the respiration increases largely, apparently due to direct action on the respiratory centre, and the blood-pressure falls.

Aspidosperma is used in medicine for the relief of various types of dyspnoea, especially in emphysema and in asthma. It is not generally useful to interrupt the paroxysm, but, as a rule, if used continuously, it will reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

Under the name of amorphous aspidospermine, a mixture of the various alkaloids has become known in commerce.

Quebracho Colorado, or S. Lorenzii, has been used as a substitute), but is essentially different, being probably a simple and gastrointestinal stimulant, though it has been said to be a much weaker form of quebrachoblanco.

Dosages: Of amorphous aspidospermine, 1/4 to 1 grain. Of crystalline aspidospermine, 1/40 to 1/20 grain. Of aspidospermine, 15 grains, but it is not used in the crude state. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1/2 drachm.