Piscidia piscipula
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Other Names Include: Chijol, Cornouiller de Jamaïque, Dogwood Jamaica, Erythrina piscipula, Fishfudle, Fish Poison Bark, Fish-Poison Tree, Ichthyomethia piscipula, Jabín, Jamaica Dogwood, Jamaican Cornouiller, Piscidia, Piscidia communis, Piscidia erythrina, West Indian Dogwood.
P. piscipula
Family: fabaceae.jpg The Fabaceae or Legume family is ranked the third largest family of flowering plants, containing more than 18,000 described species, falling just short of the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae families. The Fabaceae family contains such plants like trees, herbs, vines, and shrubs, but also contains fruits called a legume or pod. All of these plants/fruits categorized in the Fabaceae are distributed mostly in tropical rain forests, but can be found all around the globe. Very important and well known members of the Fabaceae family include the soybean, peanut, pea, bean, and legume. They are extremely important to humans for both food and agriculture, mainly because the Fabaceae family is the leading source of protein in human diets, and also enriches the soil by giving it organic nitrogen.

The Jamaican Dogwood is native to Central America, Florida, and the West Indies, but now can be found in Northern parts of South America, Texas, and Mexico. The tree's ideal growing condition is in coastal zones and in soil that is well-drained, sandy, and has a top layer of humus.
Description/Characteristics:external image jdkwapr.jpgThe Jamaican Dogwood tree can grow up to heights of 50 feet and a typical diameter of 46 to 118 cm. The stout of the tree, although large, is usually irregular with erect branches. The bark of the tree is characteristically yellow or grayish brown on the outer surface, while being a lighter or white color on the inside. The wood of the tree is very important to the lumber industry because of its high resistance to decay. Also what is different about the bark of a Jamaican Dogwood is that it has an unpleasant odor and is oddly bitter to the taste and will burn when in mouth. The flowers are colored with a red/pink and bloom in May when the trees are typically 4 years old. These flowers will later develop into 8 to 10 cm long pods with a distinct four papery wings.

external image nam28783.jpgEarly Uses (Wild Card):

Native Americans may have been the first to utilize the Jamaican Dogwood. They used to take the twigs of the branches and split them to make a sort of chewing stick (toothpick) because of the soft brush-like feel. In the early days, it was also used as some sort of medicinal. It was used to cure headaches by tying crushed leaves around ones head so that they can inhale the essence, as well as to cure sprains by beating the leaves and putting them around the wound to stop the swelling. Also, west Indian natives, who referred to the tree as "fish poison tree", would use extract bark, twigs, roots, and leaves to catch fish. They would put all of tree's material into a container and submerge it into a lagoon and wait until fish would swim in and become sedated making it easy for the people to catch them. This happened because there are many chemicals in the tree's tissues that are toxic to the fish. This fishing technique was referred to as Rotenone. external image 3-Matses+Mayoruna-Indigenous+people+customs+-+Barbasco+fishing+-+Amazon+Explorer_Iquitos_Peru.jpg

Medicinal Uses:
external image Jamaican_Dogwood_Bark__97288.1340833458.1280.1280.JPG The part of the Jamaican Dogwood that is used for medicinal purposes is the root bark. It works similarly to aspirin pain relievers because it blocks an enzyme that produces inflammatory and pain causing chemicals, called prostaglandins. It works well as a natural medicine because of its strong phytochemistry including: glycosides, tannins, organic acids, isoflavones, volatile oils, and β-sitosterol. The study of this herbal medicine is done on animals and has provided evidence that it can relieve pain, relief muscle spasms, promote sleep, reduce high fevers and inflammation, and help sooth coughs. Most professionals in the industry although just use the herb for problems like ovarian/uterine pain, anxiety, toothaches, and nerve pains. In the late 1800's it was used the most by United States doctors to cure these conditions. Jamaican Dogwood also contains a substance known as Rotenone that can be helpful to get rid of insects such as lice, flees, and larvae. Because the usage of this herb is still being studied and its containment of natural toxins, it is not recommended for human use unless it is taken with a doctors close supervision.

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Recommended Usage:

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The root bark of the Jamaican Dogwood is typically sold in pieces ranging between lengths of 1-2 inches, and widths of about 1/8 an inch. For medicinal purposes it usually comes in the form of tea, fluid extract, or tincture. The tea is made with dried and chopped roots along with boiled water and usually taken before bed to promote a more restful sleep, or to relieve headache and calm anxiety attacks. It is recommended to consume two cups of this tea a day. The tincture and fluid extract are both taken in forms of liquid drops, and is recommended to take 2-8 mL of the fluid extract daily, or 5-30 drops daily if you are taking the tincture. The tincture is mostly used for as a painkiller or sedative. Because this is a natural toxin, it is extremely important to take an appropriate dosage which varies depending things like the individuals age, and health conditions. Children are highly sensitive to the chemicals that this herb gives off so it is also very important that only adults consume Jamaican Dogwood.

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Side Effects/Precautions:

Just like with any other medicine in the world, the usage of Jamaican Dogwood has side effects. Symptoms that could lead an individual to believe that they have overdosed include: numbness, tremors, salivation, and sweating. Also, it is dangerous to mix this with any other herb, supplement, or medicine because it can increase the effects. Because Jamaican Dogwood has sedative effects it is especially important that one does not combine it with any central nervous system depressants. Make sure to stop using this herb at least 2 weeks before a surgery because it may combine poorly with the anesthesia. Also, because of the poisons it contains, do not use if pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breast feeding.

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