Devil's tree is a large evergreen tree that grows up to about 25 meters in height. Its leaves are small and it has greenish white flowers. Its fruits are long, narrow and slender. It has a bitter milky juice, rough, dark grey bark and whorled branches. The dried bark of the tree constitutes the drug.
The bark of the tree contains many alkaloids. Of these, the most important are ditamine and ditain. The latter is an uncrystallisable bitter principle to which are ascribed the febrifuge, that is, the thirst quenching properties of the drug.
Botanical Name: Alstonia scholaris
Indian Name: Saitan-ka-jhad, chhatim
Below are some of the medicinal properties of devil's tree:
- It is an excellent substitute for cinchona and quinine for the treatment of intermittent and remittent fevers. Its powder can be taken in doses of 2 to 6 grams or its extract should be given in doses of 2 to 10 drops.
An infusion of the bark is very useful in malaria. It brings down fever steadily to normal in a short time without causing perspiration and over exhaustion which usually follows other medicines for malaria.
- Devil's tree is an effective remedy in bowel complaints. About 33 centigrams of the powder of the powder of the bark can be given in these complaints.
- For skin diseases such as eczema, acne and ringworm, an infusion of the bark is given in 30 to 60 ml doses, twice or thrice a day.
- The powdered bark is beneficial in the treatment of catarrhal dyspepsia - that is indigestion accompanied by discharge of mucus from the inflamed mucus membrane of the intestines. About 3.25 grams of the powder can be given at night.
- The drug is a useful remedy in chronic diarrhea and in advanced stage of dysentery. It however, does not seem to produce any marked effect in ordinary diarrhea.