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Streblus asper is a tree known by several common names, including Siamese rough bush, khoi, and toothbrush tree. It is a medium-sized tree native to dry regions in Thailand, India, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long, rigid, oval-shaped, irregularly toothed, and borne on small petioles. staminate flower heads are spherical with minute flowers. pistillate flowers have longer peduncles.
The tree has a number of uses. It has been important in papermaking in Thailand for seven hundred years. Virtually all of the ancient Thai documents still in existence are written on the bark of this tree. The Buddhist texts and official records from before the twentieth century in Thailand are known as khoi books. The paper is durable even in the local high-humidity climate. It does not burn easily and it is resistant to yellowing and insect damage. Today other fiber sources are used to make paper and khoi fibers are used primarily by artisans who produce paper using traditional techniques.
In Vietnam traditional woodworking uses the coarse texture of the leaves as natural sandpaper.
Various parts of the plant are used in Ayurveda and other folk medicines for the treatment of different ailments such as filariasis, leprosy, toothache, diarrhoea, and cancer. It is a well known and documented ethnomedicinal plant. Research carried out using different in vitro and in vivo techniques of biological evaluation support most of these claims. It has been used in the past as an oral hygiene product and for this reason it is also known as the toothbrush tree. A twig or stick about eight inches long with a frayed or mashed end to increase the cleaning surface was used as a tooth cleaning aid up until the middle of the twentieth century when the cheap and more practical plastic brush with a toothpaste become common throughout the world.
Different studies were carried on its antibacterial activity upon various microorganisms involving oral and nasopharyngeal infections and especially Streptococcus mutans. An extract of Strebulus asper leaves have demonstrated to possess a selective bactericidal activity towards Streptococcus, especially to S. mutans which has been shown to be strongly linked with dental caries.
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