Corkwood Tree

Scientific Name(s): Duboisia myoporoides R. Br. Family: Solanaceae (nightshades)

Common Name(s): Corkwood tree , pituri

Uses

Corkwood tree leaves have been used as a CNS stimulant and hallucinogen.

Dosing

There are no recent clinical studies of corkwood tree which provide a basis for dosage recommendations. It should be used with caution due to its high atropine content.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Even small doses may cause CNS disturbances.

Toxicology

Large doses may be fatal.

Botany

The plant is found throughout most of Australia 1 , 2 and has also been cited in botanical texts from South America. 3

History

The leaves of the corkwood plant are cured and rolled into a quid. These are chewed by the natives to ward off hunger, pain and tiredness. 1 Because the leaves contain anticholinergic stimulants, it has been reported that Australian aborigines taint waterholes in order to stun and capture animals. The alkaloids derived from the plant are sometimes used as a therapeutic substitute for atropine and the plant had once been an important source of scopolamine. 1 The plant has been used in homeopathy to treat eye disorders. The corkwood is used for carving. 2

Chemistry

The plant is rich in alkaloids, yielding more than 2% alkaloids. These consist primarily of hyoscyamine and hyoscine. Also isolated are the alkaloids scopolamine, atropine, butropine and more than a dozen additional related compounds. Nicotine and nornicotine have been reported to exist in the leaves. 1

Uses and Pharmacology

The tropane alkaloids (atropine, scopolamine, etc) are potent anticholinergic agents. Even therapeutic doses may cause central nervous system disturbances. The alkaloid tigloidine has been found to have an antiparkinson effect, which is not unexpected from an anticholinergic compound. 1

Dosage

There are no recent clinical studies of corkwood tree which provide a basis for dosage recommendations. It should be used with caution due to its high atropine content.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

This plant demonstrates stimulant and hallucinogenic properties by virtue of the anticholinergic effects of its major constituents.

Toxicology

Scopolamine and related alkaloids can be fatal in large doses.

Bibliography

1. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985.
2. Mabberley DJ. The Plant-Book . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
3. Penso G. Inventory of Medicinal Plants Used in the Different Countries . World Health Organization, 1982.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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