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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Agaru (Sanskrit), Agarwood, Aloewood, Eaglewood, Gaharu (Malaysian), Kaha gaharu
(Aquilaria malaccensis syn A. agallocha)
Also: A. sinensis (China) and A. crassna(Cambodia)

A tropical to semi-tropical tree which is valued in Asia as a decorative, fine-grained wood, and for its fragrance which resembles sandalwood. It has a long history of use in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Unani traditional medicines. Also used are the Chinese A. sinensis which is a substitute for A. malaccensis and A. crassna which is from Cambodia. The name of the species is derived from the Latin "aquila" meaning eagle.
The fragrant wood only develops when the tree is dying (thought to result from a fungal infection). Dark, hard fragrant lumps develop, embedded in the normal wood. The demand has endangered the species as perfectly healthy trees are cut down.

CONTAINS: Benzylacetone, p-methoxybenzylacetone, terpene alcohol.

PROPAGATION: Fresh ripe seed sown at 66-77 F. Seeds are short-lived. Germination is in 15-30 days. Young trees are planted out when growth is between 24-32 inches and in a shady site.
NEEDS: Well-drained humusy soil in part shade with good humidity. Minimum temps should be 59-64 F.
HARVEST: Heartwood and bark are taken from trees at least 50 years old or those in the process of dying. These are then dried for decoctions or distilled for their resin.
PART USED: Bark, wood, resin.


Stimulant, tonic.
Wood has been used as a stimulant, aphrodisiac, tonic, diuretic, and to expel gas.
The grated wood has been included in preparations used to treat smallpox, rheumatism and in illness during and after childbirth.
Has been used to relieve spasms especially in the digestive and respiratory systems.
Has been used to lower fevers.
Has been used internally for digestive and bronchial complaints.
Bark and wood have been used for rheumatism.
The resinous wood of the stem of A. gallocha [chen xiang] is considered aphrodisiac, diuretic, stimulant.
A decoction of the wood has been used for abdominal pain, asthma, cancer (used as a general tonic), colic, chest congestion, diarrhea, hiccups, nausea, nerves, and regurgitation.
A. sinensis [chen xiang] is a tree of SE China which is replacing A. malaccensis in traditional Chinese medicine. Harvesters wound the trees to induce secretion of resins which are collected regularly. The wounds heal and the wood around the old wounds is cut off for use. This in turn causes the formation of new wounds and the secretion of more resin, so the process is ongoing. Old and dying trees are cut down and the heartwood harvested for medicinal use. The resinous stem has been used for abdominal pain, abcess, chest pains, weakness in the elderly, high blood pressure, liver, shortness of breath, nausea, chills, gas, pain, weak knees. The resinous wood and the resin are considered tonic for the kidneys, and have been used to expel gas, to treat male disorders, shortness of breath, nausea, general pains, weak knees, chills, chest and abdominal pain, and asthma.

Used in Malaysia to flavor curries.

The resin is used in perfumery and incense.
The wood is carved as settings for precious stones.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH