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Alstonia

Botanical: Alstonia scholaris (R. BR.)
Family: N.O. Apocynaceae

---Synonyms---Echites scholaris (Linn.). Dita Bark. Bitter Bark. Devil Tree. Pale Mara.
---Part Used---The bark.
---Habitat---India and the Philippines.


---Description---The tree grows from 50 to 80 feet high, has a furrowed trunk, oblong stalked leaves up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, dispersed in four to six whorls round the stem, their upper side glossy, under side white, nerves running at right angles to the mid-rib. The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, in commerce it is found in irregular fragments 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick, texture spongy, fracture coarse and short, outside layer rough uneven fissured brownish grey and sometimes blackish spots; inside layer bright buff, transverse section shows a number of small medullary rays in inner layer.

---Constituents---It contains three alkaloids, Ditamine, Echitamine or Ditaine, and Echitenines, and several fatty and resinous substances- the second is the strongest base and resembles ammonia in chemical characters.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---The bark is used in homoeopathy for its tonic bitter and astringent properties; it is particularly useful for chronic diarrhoea and dysentry.

---Preparations and Dosages---Infusion of Alstonia, 5 parts to 100 parts water. Dose, 1 fluid ounce. Powdered bark, 2 to 4 grains.

In India the natives use the bark for bowel complaints. In Ceylon its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root of the same species is very light and of white colour and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc.

---Other Species---A bark called Poele is obtained from Alstonia spectabilis, habitat Java; it contains the same alkaloids as dita and an additional crystalline, Alstonamine.

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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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