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Guarea is a species of tropical evergreen tree native to South America and Africa. Types of trees in the species include guarea trichiloides, guara, and rusbyi. The bark of all varieties is commonly used in homeopathic medicinal remedies for eye pain and chest congestion. The bark can also be used as an herbal remedy to clot blood, detoxify the body, or relieve a stuffy nose. Essential oils derived from the bark, fruit, and leaves are also occasionally added to herbal remedies, but are rarely dispensed on their own.
Guarea bark is most commonly known for its role in homeopathic treatments. Homeopathic medicine does not depend on pharmaceuticals, nor does it involve herbal treatments. It is based around the philosophy that “like treats like,” which essentially means that something that causes a certain symptom can also be used to treat that symptom. Homeopathy usually centers around plant extracts and other biological matter.
When ingested raw, guarea bark is known to cause severe headaches, eye pain, and chest tightness and congestion. In homeopathic preparations, the bark is diluted in alcohol, then dispensed in low concentrations as either a liquid or a pellet-type pill to treat those very symptoms it causes in its raw form. The efficacy of homeopathic guarea treatments, along with the efficacy of homeopathy generally, is controversial. Nonetheless, Homeopathic specialists practice in nearly every country, and their remedies are used with some frequency worldwide.
The availability of guarea homeopathic remedies varies by country. Some countries recognize homeopathic medicine alongside traditional Western medicine as a valid treatment option for a range of ailments, and many national health insurance plans, particularly in Europe, cover homeopathic treatments. Some private health insurance companies in the United States cover homeopathic remedies, but not all do. The United States Food and Drug Administration regulates how all homeopathic remedies, including those made from guarea, may be sold in the U.S.
Guarea can also be used as an herbal remedy for certain conditions. Herbal remedies are different from homeopathic remedies. Herbal treatments generally utilize the raw form of an herb or plant, so no dilution is necessary. Herbal remedies are also generally expected to be remedies in their own right for conditions unrelated to any ills the plant can cause.
A well-known herbal use of the bark is as a blood clotting agent, or coagulant. The bark is pressed directly on a wound to achieve this result. Guarea bark can also be boiled in tea, and is believed by many to detoxify the body and help relieve congestion in the nasal passages. Guarea essential oils, derived from the tree's bark, fruits, and leaves, are also sometimes added to teas, or are diffused and inhaled. Scientists from many countries have studied the properties of these essential oils, but whether they carry any medicinal value is debated.