Poison Tree (Barringtonia Asiatica): An Amazing Tree That Can Cure Cancer?
It is amazing how traditional knowledge can endure the test of time. Despite modern approaches to cure man's ills, herbal medicine by local folks persisted through generations. And many of these remedies actually cure common and even rare, dreaded diseases in inexpensive ways. It is even possible that these remedies are the long sought cancer cures.
Among those "home" remedies that were passed on through generations are parts derived from bulubitoon (Barringtonia asiatica), a native tree found along the coasts of Palawan, the Philippines' last frontier. According to traditional users, the scraped contents of the fruit of this tree can cure many health problems like cysts, goiter, tumor, boils, and all kinds of lumps or bumps. This may be a cancer cure in disguise.
The procedure for use is described in the picture below (left): break the coconut-like fruit, scrape the insides, then apply the scrapings to affected areas using a cloth to contain it.
Bulubitoon or poison tree fruit (top), and flower (below). Photo credits: top, Patrick Regoniel; below, dinesh_valke@Flickr.
Recently, a curious tourist bought a sack of these fruits that can cure many diseases. Some locals suspect that the "foreigner" who bought and shipped abroad a lot of these fruits would have other things in mind for doing so. It is possible that the tourist shipped it for study by medical researchers; to find out the active ingredients in this valuable fruit which may be an alternative cancer cure. It costs a mere PhP20.00 (ca. $0.50) apiece. It is relatively inexpensive for something that cures a wide range of health problems including, possibly, cancer.
The literature reveals that other parts of the poison tree can also be used to cure certain health problems not mentioned in the above written diseases that this tree can cure. The heated leaves can be used to treat stomach ache and rheumatism. Seeds are also effective in getting rid of intestinal worms.
Other Non-Medicinal Uses
The poison tree was given that name because all of its parts contain saponin, a poison. The poison can be extracted from the seeds and other parts of the plants by pounding, pulping or grating the seeds to release the poison. The extract can then be used to stun fishes in freshwater streams. That makes it easier for fishers to capture the fishes.
Fishers sometimes use the seeds as fishing floats because the middle, spongy layer contains air sacs that provide that makes the fruit buoyant. The tree is also colorful and shady, so it is used to beautify urban landscapes like planting them along the roadsides like those in Singapore and India.
The flowers open at night and attract large moths and nectar-feeding bats with their heavy scent. It is one of the hosts of the Atlas moth, a large moth found in the forests of Southeast Asia.
The poison tree is widely distributed in Africa, Asia (temperate and tropical), Australasia, and the Pacific. It grows along the coasts, hence a common feature of the mangrove forest.
Since the poison tree is a valuable forest resource, care must be taken to prevent overharvesting of its parts. An alternative cancer cure may be lost unless these trees are fully recognized by science as really curative.
Tan, R., 2001. Sea poison tree. Retrieved on May 6, 2010 at http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/plants/sea_poison.htm.
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, 2010. Taxon: Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz. Retrieved on May 6, 2010 at http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?6512.