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Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima Options
#1 Posted : 7/18/2012 3:21:22 PM

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Ailanthus altissima is an interesting tree.

This tree is used in Chinese traditional medicine and is not dangerous unless very high doses are taken. All parts contain alkaloids, but the leafy parts have a lot of volatile material as well. =
It has some Beta-carboline alkaloids and some related alkaloids called Canthins, like canthin-6-one (image attached below).

Here is some collected information about it:

Normally, only the bark of the root and the stemm are most used because they contain high concentration of these active compounds that produce effective theraputical effects including: [14]

1. Astringent, bitter, cardiac depressant, diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, rubefacient

2. Malaria and fevers

3. Slows the heart rate and relaxes spasms

4. Cardiac palpitations, asthma and epilepsy

5. Cancer, diarrhoea, dysentery, dysmenorrhoea, dysuria, ejaculation epilepsy, eruption, fever, gonorrhoea, haematochezia

6. The leaves, bark of the trunk, and roots are put into a wash to treat parasitic ulcers, itch, and eruptions.

7. In Korea, the root bark is used in the treatment of coughs, gastric and intestinal upsets.

8. The fruit is used in the treatment of bloody stools and dysentery."


The infusion may be given in sweetened orange-flower or other aromatic water, to lessen the bitterness and resultant sickness. Though it produces vomiting and great relaxation, it is stated not to be poisonous.


The bark, fruit, leaves, and roots of Ailanthus altissima are incorporated into a multiplicity of remedies in traditional Chinese medicine. For example, chun bai pi (Chinese: 椿白皮, chūnbáipí “white bark of spring”), a remedy that is made from the dried bark of Ailanthus altissima, is prescribed by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine to treat diarrhea or dysentery. Its pharmaceutical name is Cortex ailanthi in traditional Chinese medicine’s Materia Medica. Associated with energy meridians of the large intestine, stomach, and liver, Cortex ailanthi has such medicinal functions as clearing heat, drying dampness, astringing the intestines, stopping bleeding, and killing worms.\


Extracts of the plant leaves have demonstrated antiproliferative (De Feo
et al. 2005), central nervous depressant (Crespi-Perellino et al. 198Cool, antifeedant
and insecticide (Kraus et al. 1994) activities.


Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The bark of ailanthus has been employed by Roberts, Dugat, and others, both in the recent and dried state, as a remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea; also in gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, prolapsus ani, etc. Fifty grammes of the root-bark are infused for a short time in 75 grammes of hot water, then strained, and when cold, administered in teaspoonful doses, night and morning. To lessen the disagreeable impression following its use, as well as to mask its bitterness, it may be administered in sweetened orange-flower water, or in some other aromatic. Professor Hetet, of the Toulon Naval School, states in Jour. de Chim. Med., December, 1859, that the leaves and bark, in powder, or in the form of an aqueous or of an alcoholic extract, will remove tapeworm; but he found its action upon patients to be very disagreeable and nauseating, somewhat like that occasioned by tobacco upon young smokers. Dupuis has also found it useful as a taenifuge. In the September number of the Eclectic Medical Journal, for 1875, p. 393, Dr. H. L. True, of Ohio, states, that from his observations, the bark is not poisonous, but produces vomiting, great relaxation, and a deathlike sickness, which symptoms gradually pass away.


Physiological Action—In overdoses ailanthus causes vertigo, severe headache, pains in the back and limbs, together with great prostration, tingling and numbness; it reduces the pulse-beat and the respiration and causes great weakness, cold sweats and shivering. If it be given too frequently, or in too large doses, it causes death by paralyzing the respiratory center, its influence resembling that of tobacco.


Another source from 684 AD, during the Tang dynasty and recorded in Li Shizhen's Compendium of Materia Medica, states that when the leaves are taken internally, they make one incoherent and sleepy, while when used externally they can be effectively used to treat boils, abscesses and itches. Yet another recipe recorded by Li uses the leaves to treat baldness. This formula calls for young leaves of ailanthus, catalpa and peach tree to be crushed together and the resulting liquid applied to the scalp to stimulate hair growth.[3]


Large doses of the drug are said to lead to queasiness, dizziness, headache, tingling in the limbs and diarrhea.


Tree-of-heaven extracts have potential use as herbicides [32,100].
The species has a long history of folk medicine and cultural use in Asia [74]. It is used as an astringent,
antispasmotic, anthelmintic, and parasitide. In powdered form it is a narcotic, with depressant effects similar
to tobacco (Nicotiana
spp.). Fresh stem bark is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery; root bark is used for heat ailments, epilepsy,
and asthma. The fruits are used as an emmenagogue and to treat ophthalmic diseases. Leaves are an
astringent and used in lotions for seborrhea and scabies [5,74]. Laboratory studies show tree-of-heaven has a
potential role in modern medicine. Pharmacological research is focusing on possible use of tree-of-heaven
extracts for treating cancer, malaria, and HIV-1 infection [5,20,26,119].


. Aim of this paper was to systematically isolate low level compounds from Ailanthus altissima, thus to provide molecular pharmacological base for TCM study.Continous ethanol heat reflux method was used in extraction of Ailanthus altissima, the extract was desolved in H2O to get hydrophilic and hydrophibic phases. The hydrophilic phase was separated by macroporous resin, and 50% methanol elution gradient was collected. The collected gradient was further fractionated by HPLC, 5 compounds were purified. Chemical structures of the 5 compounds were determined by mass spectrometry...

Three compounds, 12.1 mgβ-carboline alkaloid, 10.2mg 1-hydroxy- canthin-6-one and 10.6mg canthin-6-one were obtained from 150 g Ailanthus altissima dry material with purities as 98.2%, 99.6%, 96.8%, respectively.

Canthin-6-one is a fairly widely distributed alkaloid in plants and many of those species have seen use in herbal medicine, including as aphrodisiacs among other things. The nausea and sedation of the alkaloid, (along with some other effects) remind me of the effects of large doses of betacarbolines.

I can't however find much in the way of canthin-6-one and MAO-Inhibition, GABA, serotonin receptors etc. I am also having a hard time finding first hand accounts of the molecule.

The molecule and plant material involved is legal and has a history of medical use. The species of plant, The Tree of Heaven is a rather invasive species with a somewhat offensive odor. I don't know enough about chemistry to know how to selectively target specific alkaloids.

A method that has been used on this plant (Ohmoto et al 1980) is methanol reflux of plant matter, producing a residue that is dissolved in water and extracted with chloroform, which is then treated/salted with HCL water, the water layer is then removed, raised to pH10 and extracted with chloroform, which when evaporated gave a crude alkaloid extract (2 g extract from 3kg of rootbark in this case:
1-Acetyl-4-methoxy-beta-carboline------------------------ (50mg)

1-(2'-Hydroxyethyl)-4-methoxy-beta-carboline---------- (170mg)

1-(1',2'-Dihydroxyethyl)-4-methoxy-beta-carboline----- (215mg)

Canthin-6-one-------------------------------------------------- (330mg)

Canthin-6-one-3N-oxide-------------------------------------- (70mg)

1-Methoxycanthin-6-one-------------------------------------- (170mg)

1-Methoxycanthin-6-one-3N-oxide-------------------------- (220mg)

(total 1.2g, though the paper says that 2g crude extract was obtained, from which the above named alkaloids was obtained and identified)

I was wondering if this was a poor method and could be improved upon but do not know enough. Will canthin-6-one alkaloids precipitate at higher pH the way some betacarboline alkaloids do? I'd really like to isolate the alkaloids of this plant for further research.

AlbertKLloyd attached the following image(s):
Canthin-6-one.jpg (7kb) downloaded 377 time(s).

Good quality Syrian rue (Peganum harmala) for an incredible price!
#2 Posted : 7/31/2012 6:18:59 PM

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I found a study that explored the potential of canthin6one alkaloids to bond to benzodiazepine receptors, they were effective, thou not especially strong, this is yet another aspect of the alkaloid that is reminiscent of harmala alkaloids, which are also able to affect the benzo receptors.

I also found that the alkaloid is fluorescent in solution
#3 Posted : 8/2/2012 1:55:23 AM
member for the trees

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..hey, thanks for this thread AlbertKLloyd..

betacarbolines were also found in Ailanthus malacabra (synon. tripysha)..still trying to access the paper, but some were so obscure that, while i have the tree growing, i haven't been game to bio-assay it yet..
get back to you (they were very interesting sounding compounds)

#4 Posted : 9/10/2012 2:08:29 AM

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Today I tried my first dose of a preparation of Ailanthus altissima.

I do not suggest this for others, though the tree has seen use for hundreds if not thousands of years as a medicine and has been fairly well studied chemically, it has not been experimented with much lately and the potential risks and side effects are not totally clear.

I felled a tree of this species that was about 15 feet tall, it had a diameter of about 3-4 inches at its thickest point. These are fast growing trees so this was only a few years old.

I removed the bark, it had two portions to it, an inner later with green and white tissue and a paper like outer layer of the hard bark with a smooth inner surface.

I dried the (inner) bark and today made a tea of about 30-40 grams worth, I did not drink it all (only half). It was rather bitter, but not that bad.

The tea had definite effects, it reminds me of caapi actually, a bit of that strange feeling of motion and sedative effect. It is calming and relaxing. it also makes things appear slightly different visually, but this is hard to express or explain.

It did not upset my stomach or give me any nausea, but was a low dose. I will continue to experiment with this material later, but so far it pleases me.
#5 Posted : 10/27/2012 5:58:00 PM

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this beautiful trees from china rite?
nice information guys!Thumbs up Big grin
creative people
#6 Posted : 10/28/2012 11:16:54 PM
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Good update! Interesting plant.
#7 Posted : 2/16/2013 11:10:46 PM

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A. altissima is used in traditional medicine for treatment of dysentry, gonorrhea,
haemorrhoids and a reamdy for cough, gastric and intestinal upsets (Perry 1980). The bark is prescribed to treat anaemia, diarrhea, heamorrhage and spermatorrhea (Perry 1980), it is also used as antispasmodic, antiasthmatic, cardiac depressant, astringent and for treatment of epilepsy (Watt and Breyer 1962). Previous phytochemical studies on A. altissima have demonstrated the presence of quassinoids (Casinovi et al.1983; Chiarlo and Pinca 1965, Furuno et al. 1981; Niimi et al. 1987; Kubota et al. 1996) as well as indole alkaloids (Ohmoto et al.1981; Varga et al. 1981; Ohmoto 1984; Souleles and Waigh 1984; Souleles and kokkalou 1989) lipids and fatty acids (Chiarlo and Tacchino 1965; Bory and Clair-Maezulajtys 1989; Kapoor et al. 1990; Kucuk et al. 1994), phenolic derivatives ( Souleles and Philianso 1983; Barakat 1998; El-Baky et al. 2000) and volatile compounds (Mastelic and Jerkovic 2002) isolated from A. altissima leaves. Extracts of A. altissima and some isolated compounds have demonstrated medicinal properties such as antituberculosis, antimalarial, antitumor and antiherpes activities (Hwang et al. 2002; Crespi et al. 1988; Kraus et al. 1994; Rahman et al. 1997; Brayet al. 1987; Tamura et al. 2000; Ohmoto et al. 1989; Ohmoto et al. 1983; Ohmoto et al. 1985)...

500 g of powdered of A. altissima stem bark was extracted with diethyl ether and
chloroform in a continous extraction apparatus (soxhlet apparatus). Each extract was concentrated under reduced pressure to give 9 gm of diethyl ether and 10.5 gm of chloroform
extracts respectively.

Alkaloids were found but not characterized in the above study.

I am sitting here drinking some Ailanthus bark tea again (inner bark)
there isn't much stuff out there that tastes worse.

Appearance: powder yellow-brown
IR νmax: 1667, 1435, 1331, 1140, 841, 793, 757 cm-1
Melting Point: 154-156 °C
GC/MS (m/z): 63, 82, 114, 139, 164, 192, 220 (100, M)

(dealing with plants containing canthin alkaloids
Barbetti et al. (1986) examined the alkaline fraction from the Q. amara wood
extract. Three ß-carboline alkaloids were isolated...

The secondary metabolites visualized in Q. amara extract are probably fluorescence alkaloids
(indole: β-carbolines and canthin-6-ones) and triterpenoids (i.e. quassin, neoquassin and


Phytochemical investigations
1 kg of dried (5 hrs, 50oC, Heraeus) and powdered plant material extracted with 70% MeOH (Merck) in a continuous extraction apparatus (Soxhlet Apparatus). The extract was concentrated under the reduced pressure to give a residue. The obtained residue was dissolved in 500 ml of distilled water and then it was fractionated with petroleum ether, chloroform,ethyl acetate and butanol (60–80oC). Each fraction was dried over anhydrous sodium sulphate (Merck) and concentrated under reduced pressure to give 29 g, 14 g, 10.5 g, 32 g of petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate and n-butanol fractions, respectively...

Alkaloids and/or nitrogenous bases were present in A. excelsa and A. altissima stem bark extracts and also in the leaf extracts of A. altissima,

Beta-Carboline Alkaloids: Biochemical and Pharmacological Functions
Rihui Cao1, Wenlie Peng1, Zihou Wang2 and Anlong Xu*,1
Certain plant-derived 􀀂-carboline alkaloids are another
important sources of antitumor lead compounds. Besides
harmine (3) and harman (2), the cantin-6-one alkaloids, isolated
from Eurycoma longifolia, were found to exhibit cytotoxic
activities against a panel of human cancer cell typesincluding breast, colon, fibrosarcoma, lung, melanoma, KB,
KB-V1 and murine lymphocytic leukemia P-388 [175]. Recently,
Xu et al. [176] also found that 1-methoxycanthinone
(66) and 5-methoxycanthinone (67) suppressed the growth of
a panel of human tumor cell lines, including epiderimoid
carcinoma of the nasopharynx (KB), lung carcinoma (A
549), ileocecal carcinoma (HCT-Cool, renal cancer (CAK-1),
breast cancer (MCF-7) and melanoma (SK-MEL-2), with
IC50 value in the range of 2.5-20 􀀁g/ml...

1-Methoxycanthin-one--------------------- Antiviral activities against HIV with EC50 0.26ug/ml and TI>39 [176]

Canthin-6-one and related molecule activities---->My mind=blown.

These results indicate that canthin-6-one (1) exhibits trypanocidal activity in vivo in the mouse model of acute or chronic infection. This is the first demonstration of anti-Trypanosoma cruzi activity for a member of this chemical group (canthinones). Considering the very low toxicity of canthin-6-one (1), our results suggest that long-term oral treatment with this natural product could prove advantageous compared to the current chemotherapy of Chagas disease.

MALE WISTAR RATS (Rattus norvegicus L.)

I will note that Eurycoma does contain Canthin-6-one
a study not too long ago found that harmine affected glutamic acid levels... also if you pick through the links above you will note that dose dependent hypothermic type effects have been noted for harmaline and harmine as well as for Canthins...

The results showed that blank control group had the lowest average on errors and latencies, meanwhile 36 mg/kg bw group had the highest average in both parameters which were significantly different from the control group (P<0,05). Administration of pasak bumi root extract with higher dose decreased the average number of errors and latencies as shown for the highest dose of 72 mg/kg bw had not significantly different from control group but increased the glutamic acid level.

Correct me if I am wrong, but a NMDA receptor antagonist, by inhibiting the uptake of glutamic acid, is likely to increase levels of glutamic acid...

#8 Posted : 2/16/2013 11:37:25 PM

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When I began writing the above post I drank the tea (not a lot either, about a 1/2 ounce of bark, I can now feel the effects strongly, it is nice, hard to explain... definitely psychoactive, I do not think I am having difficulty concentrating and am a little less irritated by interruptions right now than is normal

I do have some tracer like effects and visual changes, again hard to explain, very much like a low dose of a psychedelic in this way, though the body sensations are not like that at all.

Note the time on this and the preceding post. Effects from Ailanthus bark took about 20 minutes to become unmistakably present.

I am now about to take a small amount of Phalaris extract under the tongue that should contain some 5-meo. As far as I know this is the first deliberate experiment of this type, so do not try this at home. I do expect that the ailanthus will potentiate the effects of the phalaris extract

I will report back later.
#9 Posted : 2/17/2013 5:36:39 AM

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The Ailanthus tea was effective and nice, but the oral use of the phalaris extract (very small dose) did nothing noticeable or noteworthy.
#10 Posted : 3/27/2013 1:51:33 AM

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I am still experimenting with this species.

I exhausted my initial supply, gathered from a tree only about 3-4 inches wide, this material was not very thick

but then i obtained some more from two different sources, all fresh trees, both much older and in the range of 6-10 inches wide. The bark material in this case was about 1/4 inch thick and had the same effects and flavor as the younger material but is stronger by volume, being denser, though likely not stronger by weight.

no clearly adverse effects have been noted, my general health is fairly good
I've used the bark as a tea now for a couple of months and have taken it about 10 times.
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