The leaves of boxwood contain essential oil, tannins and the alkaloids, buxine (chiefly responsible for the bitter taste), parabuxine and parabuxonidine.
The bark contains chlorophyll, wax, resin, lignin, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and silicium.
Boxwood was previously used to treat persistent and recurring fever (malaria), gout, rheumatism, urinary tract infections, intestinal worms, chronic skin problems, syphilis, and hemorrhoids.
Because of the many adverse side effects of the plant and the availability of more appropriate herbs to treat the same ailments, the medical use of boxwood has almost ceased.
An essential oil which is extracted from the wood has been used as an herbal remedy in cases of epilepsy. The oil has also been employed for a toothache and piles.
The wood is considered diaphoretic and has been used in a form of a decoction as a remedy for rheumatism and secondary syphilis.
A tincture from the herb was formerly used as a bitter tonic and antiperiodic and had the reputation of curing leprosy.
Boxwood was previously used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria, but since it is difficult to dose right, it is not used anymore for that purpose.
The alkaloids and tannins found in the herb have laxative properties and fever-lowering effect.
The leaves and sawdust of boxwood were previously boiled in lye and used as an auburn hair color agent, and the bark was used in the perfume industry.
The wood, due to its hardness and heaviness, has been used to make scientific instruments, furniture, chess pieces, flutes, and other musical instruments.