Amargo - Quassia amara

The database file for Amargo has been updated and uploaded. You can access it here and the new sitemap for Amargo is here.  There was lots of new research to review!

My biggest take-away from reading all the new research was that amargo is travelling down the same path that quinine bark did more than 100 years ago.

Both of these trees are used to treat malaria all over the tropics where malaria is prevalent.  Both of the crude extracts of the tree’s bark and wood have multiple antimalarial chemicals which proves why these trees are effective herbal remedies for malaria that are prepared by local residents in the tropics.  Drug companies “discovered” these antimalarial chemicals studying the knowledge of the people indigenous to the areas where they grow.  Because of the limitations of drug development and the inability to patent and turn herbal extracts which have 100 or more plant chemicals in them into drugs, researchers targeted just one or two chemicals from each of these trees to turn into a drugs.  With the quinine tree, it was an alkaloid chemical named quinine.  With amargo, it’s two chemicals that are classified as quassinoids and named simalikalactone D and simalikalactone E.  Both of these chemicals are VERY antimalarial and in VERY small dosages (which mean there’s enough of the chemicals in a crude plant extract to be capable of treating malaria.) Both of these chemicals have shown stronger actions against malaria and at lower dosages than the quinine alkaloid that was used to make antimalarial drugs so many years ago.  A research group from France who discovered the simalikalatone E chemical (and patented it already saying it could treat malaria) will probably turn it into a new antimalaria drug before the other D chemical which has been researched by many. They’ve already synthesized both chemicals so they can produce a drug without using any amargo bark.

What will always be true with both of these tropical trees is that the crude extracts which contain multiple antimalarial chemicals as well as a host of other chemicals that are probably working synergistically with them (and reducing malaria symptoms like high fevers) will probably always work better than the drugs they create from just one chemical that came out of the crude extract.  What is also true with the quinine drug and will be true of this new drug is that malaria (a parasite) is quite capable of creating a defense mechanism against a single chemical and these single chemical drugs will only be effective for only so long before the drug can’t kill the mutated malaria parasite any more.  There are at least 5 mutated strains of malaria that the quinine drug simply can’t kill anymore (which is why researchers are looking for new ones now).  You can read more about how that works reading another blog  I wrote “Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Now I know most of the readers here will never have to deal with malaria. . .  I just couldn’t help commenting about how the pharmaceutical industry is repeating the same mistakes regardless of their limitations in drug development.  I think a large NGO like The World Health Organization, or someone similar should promote the manufacture and sales of crude extracts in the tropics of both of these rainforest trees.  They certainly would be cheaper than the high-priced drugs and more accessible to people who live in the tropics where the disease and trees are endemic.  They could also just get the information out to these people about the most effective ways to produce these crude extracts themselves using the trees growing in their back yards.    But, hey, that’s just me.  I’ve been told, I am just way too logical.

Now here’s some big news for Americans which I hope you’ll never have to use.  This same antimalarial simalikalatone E chemical was tested to be VERY antileukemic and at VERY low dosages as well.  This same French research group has filed a use patent on the chemical to treat various kinds of leukemia including CLL and AML. I almost died of AML in my mid-20’s, so this was of real personal interest to me!   Their patent also said the chemical was very active against, and was suitable to treat multiple myeloma and melanoma as well.  They will probably be turning this chemical into an anticancer drug in addition to a new malaria drug. Their research and testing is ongoing and I’m pretty sure by now they’re working with derivatives and analogs of the chemical (slightly modified) that are patentable as a unique chemo drug and not just a synthesized plant chemical.  

In the meantime, since the plant chemical is effective in such tiny dosages, there is enough of the chemical in the plant that it will probably be helpful to cancer patients now.  Based on everything I’ve read so far, I would recommend adding amargo to a naturopathic protocol for leukemia, myeloma and melanoma in dosages of 2 grams of the bark/wood in (in capsules, tea, macerations) twice daily or 2-3 ml of a bark/wood tincture (get prepared, it’ll taste dreadfully bitter) twice daily in average weight individuals. Increase dosages accordingly for higher body weight (over 170 pounds).
I can’t say this is a cure for leukemia because all the research so far has just been in animals and test tubes.  What I can say is that the research is remarkable, that it won’t hurt you, and it just might be really helpful. If Raintree was still in business, I would probably reformulate the Ntense-2 formula I created for leukemia and add amargo to it. What I've researched so far is compelling enough to change this formula.  Personally, I would add it to the protocols being used now as an adjunctive therapy, not just use it alone until we figure out how it does work in people.   

You can read more about all this new research in my book and the plant database, in addition to other traditional uses of amargo being validated by research.  Don’t miss the part about diabetes. . .  While amargo has long been used in the Amazon to treat diabetes, it was just recently reported in animal studies to reduce blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol levels, and increase glucose tolerance. 

 It is still being validated in research to provide strong antiparasitic actions which is why I used it in the Raintree formula for parasites Amazon A-P Support.   This is one of the formulas I always carried with me in my travels in the Amazon.  I've used it instead of the malaria vaccines (which don't work against the many mutated strains anyway) and to treat malaria in the Amazon.  It has also shown in my practice in North America and South America to hit an incredible amount of internal parasites and worms.  You cannot imagine the incredible amount of parasites that are in the jungles and the resulting widespread parasitic infections I've seen there.  Amazon A-P hit everything I threw at it.

One new study on the antiviral actions of amargo was published on an amargo extract and three studies on the antiviral action of  simalikalatone D were published which is why I used amargo in Raintree’s  antiviral formula, Amazon A-V Support.  Two of the main uses of this popular formula was for hepatitis and herpes and it helped LOTS of people. It works on other viruses as well. A funny story on it was when Raintree was in Carson City, Nevada, I used this formulation to make "cow cookies" and treated a whole herd of cows with viral pneumonia by shoving the cookies down their throats (they tasted so dreadful the cows weren't going to eat them on their own).  It worked like a charm and the effects were apparent in less than 24 hours.

Also, when you’re reading the stuff on amargo, don’t miss the part about this French research group getting sued for biopiracy for patenting the indigenous knowledge of amargo.  That’s one of the reasons I dedicate so much time writing these books and maintaining my plant database.  If the indigenous knowledge of these plants is in the public purview (by placing it in books and online databases), then pharmaceutical companies and researchers cannot patent this knowledge for their own exclusive use and resulting profits. In fact, my book and database has been used at least a dozen times that I know of to deny a plant use patent for a particular use of a plant that was already published in my book and database. 

I hope you enjoy reading about amargo!


  1. Holistic doctors have recommended various forms of Wormwood, Quinine and Elecampane-based formulas for tick-vector (esp. babesia) challenges with reported success. From what you've written in your blog, it would seem that when Quinine has benefits Quassia might be an alternative for people who can't tolerate Quinine, or even a better choice. Do you know of any studies that address this? Thank you, Dr. Taylor.

  2. Hi Dario.
    Nothing has been published yet on Amargo and babesia but I am thinking if you have patients sensitive to quinine they may have difficulty with amargo as well. Both are very strong. For babesia I used the formula I created called Spiro which is what I and many others practitioners used for Lyme's and babesia. More info on that formula and ingredients is at For very sensitive patients and/or you are looking for a single plant to use, try Chanca piedra. It is very well tolerated by most and has been scientifically documented with anti-babesial actions. See more about chanca peidra here: (See J Nat Prod. 2005 Apr;68(4):537-9
    Anti-babesial and anti-plasmodial compounds from Phyllanthus niruri.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Your response does indeed help. Thank you. When do you expect your updated book to be available? I'm itching to get my copy!

    2. I and, speaking for the many!, untold thousands of people would be interested in any updates, general suggestions and opinions you might have for addressing chronic, persistent Lyme disease along with Babesia, Bartonella and other related infections that might include Mycoplasma and opportunistic fungal and viral issues that people and doctors consistently report as complications that arise in the treatment of Lyme both pharmaceutically and with nutritional supplements. There is so much hype, information, conflicting information - and outright disinformation - out there ... people need a "rock", a trusted expert and voice, not to work magic or exacerbate the confusion but to guide them honestly and earnestly with reason. Electing you just might be the easiest thing in the world of natural healing. Far be it from me to swim against the tide. Can you help? People need support programs, a protocol or protocols, for the worst-case scenarios of Lyme and Lyme-related issues and co-infections, protocols that are as simple - and effective and affordable - as possible. You have no financial incentives. You have the chops. You have the gravitas. Please do what you can.

  3. Well, thanks for the nomination... but I'm not running! LOL My plate is full right now working on my book for the time being. I'm on plant 7 out of 76 and am thinking it'll be 3-4 months before I get my part done and get it to the publisher. It will be a month or two on the publisher's part to do his job. That's why I'm uploading the updates into the online plant database as I write them so people don't have to wait 6 months for the info. And you are quite right, Lyme's is way complicated, has lots of co-factors and co-infections and everyone who has it is just a tad different than others and will react differently to alternative and conventional therapies which need addressing along the way. That's why I always tell folks to find a good holistic practitioner to help them hands-on and not rely on all the information found all over the internet. There was a really good one integrative MD that ordered Raintree's products, including Spiro and A-F, that had developed some good protocols with them. He was confirming the total clearance of babesia with the Spiro formula thru blood work in his patients. I might be able to dig up his contact info if you want it.Maybe. In the meantime, I'll be happy to set up a blog page just on Lyme's disease and add to it as I'm writing all the updates on the rainforest plants if any pertain to the disease and/or known co-infections. That's about the best I can do presently until after I get my book finished.

  4. A Lyme page would be interesting and beneficial to a lot of people and practitioners. Great idea. Now, I don't want to pester you while you're finishing your book updating so I won't burden you with questions that aren't in the flow of things. Let's just say for now that I appreciate the fact that you are posting them online as you finish them proving once again that you don't leave any stones unturned in your work. From the looks of things, the additions are going to make for a great book, fun and interesting to read generally and as a reference. Thank you.


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