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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DRAGON TREE -ONE OF SEVERAL PRODUCERS OF "DRAGON'S BLOOD": HISTORY, USES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE DRAGON TREE


DRAGON TREE, DAEMONOROPS DRACO
This tree is native to Sumatra, Borneo and Malaya, and is a palm, a member of the Arecaeae family along with the toddy palm and others. Its main claim to fame is that it provides us with Dragon’s blood which is a resinous substances exuded from its fruit. This tree has catkin-like flowers which are followed by fruit which are pointed cherry-sized berries, with a coating of a reddish resin when ripe. It is this that produces Dragon’s blood. We have few pictures for this tree as other trees bearing dragon’s blood are more popular it would seem, some form the Canary Islands, one from Yemen but this one is of Asian origin.
  The resin is steamed from the fruit or the fruit are boiled, but the resin made in this way is deemed inferior. It used to be used in medicine for its astringent properties and was used against diarrhoea and syphilis.
Dragon' blood resin
  Dragon’s blood comes in tear shapes or in sticks, which were packed in leaves and strips of cane. Today however the tree is over-exploited and used to make rattan furniture and to make Dragon’s Blood ink which is used for witches seals and talismans. It is also used as a body oil and for incense.
  In traditional Chinese medicine it is used to control bleeding and pain, and to improve blood circulation as well as to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration.
  It is also used in varnishes (violin varnish) and was used in China to colour the surface of writing quality paper to make banners and posters for weddings and Chinese New Year.
  This tree is the main source of commercially harvested Dragon’s Blood.
  It gets a mention in this blog site because there has been research conducted into it, and it seems that it has exhibited antimicrobial and antiviral properties in vitro. It contains benzoic acid which has antiseptic properties and dracorhodin extracted from its fruits has been reported to induce human melanoma cell death, again in vitro. Research is still underway to reveal the secrets of the fruit and new flavonoids have been isolated from it, although their properties are still unreported. Although it is early days yet, scientists hope that it may have promising uses against cancer.

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