Arbre à Savon, Bois de Panama, China Bark, Murillo Bark, Panama Bark, Quillaja, Quillaja saponaria, Quillay, Savonnier, Soap Tree, Soap Tree Bark, Soapbark.


Overview Information

Quillaia is a plant. The inner bark is used as medicine.

Quillaia is used for the common cold, cough, bronchitis, high cholesterol, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using quillaia can also be unsafe when ingested in large amounts.

In foods, quillaia is used in frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatins, and puddings. It is also used in beverages and cocktails and as a foaming agent in root beer.

In manufacturing, quillaia extracts are used in skin creams. Quillaia is also used as a foaming agent in fire extinguishers.

In South America, quillaia bark is used to wash clothes.

How does it work?

Quillaia contains high concentrations of tannins. Tannins can thin mucous to make it easier to cough up. Quillaia also contains chemicals called saponins. Saponins seem to prevent some types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses from attaching to and infecting healthy cells. These chemicals may also help stimulate the immune system when given with vaccines. Saponins from quillaia also seem to attach to dietary fat in the stomach. This may lower blood fat such as cholesterol by preventing the fat from getting into the blood or other organs.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of quillaia for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Quillaia is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. But it is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal doses. Plants such as quillaia that contain high amounts of tannins can cause stomach and intestinal disturbances, as well as kidney and liver damage. Quillaia also contains chemicals called oxalates that can lower blood calcium levels and cause kidney stones. Quillaia use can also cause diarrhea, stomach pain, serious breathing problems, convulsions, coma, red blood cell destruction, and kidney failure. Quillaia can also irritate and damage the lining of the mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if quillaia is safe or what the side effects might be.

When inhaled: There isn't enough reliable information to know if quillaia is safe. The powder can cause sneezing when inhaled.

When applied into the vagina: There isn't enough reliable information to know if quillaia is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Quillaia is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for both mother and infant. Avoid use.

Stomach and intestinal (gastrointestinal, GI) problems: Quillaia can irritate the GI tract. Don't use it if you have a stomach or intestinal disorder.

Kidney disease: The oxalate in quillaia can cause kidney stones. Don't use it if you have kidney disease or a history of kidney stones.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs) interacts with QUILLAIA

    Quillaia contains a large amount of chemicals called tannins. Tannins absorb substances in the stomach and intestines. Taking quillaia along with medications taken by mouth can decrease how much medicine your body absorbs, and decrease the effectiveness of your medicine. To prevent this interaction, take quillaia at least one hour after medications you take by mouth.

  • Metformin (Glucophage) interacts with QUILLAIA

    Metformin (Glucophage) is used to help decrease blood sugar. Quillaia might decrease how much metformin (Glucophage) the body absorbs. Taking quillaia along with metformin (Glucophage) might decrease the effectiveness of metformin (Glucophage) for lowering blood sugar. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your metformin (Glucophage) might need to be changed.



The appropriate dose of quillaia depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for quillaia. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Adamczyk B, Simon J, Kitunen V, Adamczyk S, Smolander A. Tannins and their complex interaction with different organic nitrogen compounds and enzymes: old paradigms versus recent advances. ChemistryOpen. 2017;6(5):610-614. View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
  • Fleck JD, Betti AH, da Silva FP, et al. Saponins from Quillaja saponaria and Quillaja brasiliensis: particular chemical characteristics and biological activities. Molecules 2019;24(1). pii: E171. View abstract.
  • Kim SW, Park SK, Kang SI, et al. Hypocholesterolemic property of Yucca schidigera and Quillaja saponaria extracts in human body. Arch Pharm Res 2003;26(12):1042-6. View abstract.
  • McRae JM, Kennedy JA. Wine and grape tannin interactions with salivary proteins and their impact on astringency: a review of current research. Molecules. 2011;16(3):2348-64. View abstract.
  • Pillion DJ, Amsden JA, Kensil CR, et al. Structure-function relationship among Quillaja saponins serving as excipients for nasal and ocular delivery of insulin. J Pharm Sci 1996;85:518-24. View abstract.
  • Recchia J, Lurantos MH, Amsden JA, et al. A semisynthetic Quillajasaponin as a drug delivery agent for aminoglycoside antibiotics. Pharm Res 1995;12:1917-23. View abstract.
  • Roner MR, Tam KI, Kiesling-Barrager M. Prevention of rotavirus infections in vitro with aqueous extracts of Quillaja Saponaria Molina. Future Med Chem 2010;2(7):1083-97. View abstract.
  • Sidhu GS, Oakenfull DG. A mechanism for the hypocholesterolaemic activity of saponins. Br J Nutr 1986;55:643-9. View abstract.
  • Tam KI, Roner MR. Characterization of in vivo anti-rotavirus activities of saponin extracts from Quillaja saponaria Molina. Antiviral Res 2011;90(3):231-41. View abstract.
  • Wu JY, Gardner BH, Murphy CI, et al. Saponin adjuvant enhancement of antigen-specific immune responses to an experimental HIV-1 vaccine. J Immunol 1992;148:1519-25. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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