Evergreen tree growing to 49 ft (15 m) with grey bark, shiny bright green leaflets, and foul-smelling flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Angostura is native to some Caribbean islands and to tropical South America. The bark is gathered throughout the year.
Angostura bark contains bitter principles, quinoline alkaloids including cusparine, and 1–2% volatile oil. The alkaloids have antimicrobial activity against the tuberculosis bacillus.
History & Folklore
Angostura is a traditional tonic and fever remedy in South America, used chiefly for digestive infections. Native Amazonians also use the plant as a fish poison. Angostura has been used as a source of “bitters,” although it is unknown whether it is an ingredient of the cocktail flavoring bearing its name as the drink’s composition is a trade secret.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
A strong bitter with tonic properties, angostura stimulates the stomach and digestive tract as a whole. It is antispasmodic and is reported to act on the spinal nerves, helping in paralytic conditions. Angostura is typically given for weak digestion, and is considered valuable as a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery. In South America, it is sometimes used as a substitute for cinchona (Cinchona spp.) to control fevers.
Use under professional guidance only.