Botanical Name: Gouania lupuloides
Species: G. lupuloides
Common Names: Chewstick, or Whiteroot
Habiitat: Gouania lupuloides is native to Central America – Panama to Mexico, and the Caribbean. It grows in dry, moist, or wet thickets or forest, most often in second-growth thickets, ascending from sea level to elevations of around 1,500 metres.
Gouania lupuloides is a climber plant, growing to 10 m (32ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a medium rate . The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Gouania lupuloides is plentiful around the edges of clearings but appears only occasionally in the forest canopy. G. lupuloides flowers from November to March, usually in the early dry season; the plant does not often flower in March and rarely flowers in the rainy season. G. lupuloides can fruit as early as January, and as late as May with a peak in March and April.
The stems are bitter and aromatic and have been used as a substitute for hops in brewing beer. Also, it is often chewed to clean the teeth and harden the gums. In Yucatan, root decoction is used as a gargle for sores in the mouth and throat. Stem infusion is used for gonorrhea and dropsy
Cultivation: A tropical plant. The flowers are much frequented by bees.
Propagation : Through seeds.
The aromatic, bitter stems have been used as a substitute for hops in brewing beer. They are used to add flavour and body to a range of drinks including soda, ginger beer, root beer and root tonics. This is a very agreeable bitter. It is used as a substitute for hops in ginger beer, and cool drinks.
A decoction of the root is used in Yucatan as a gargle for sores in the mouth and throat. An infusion (of the stem?) has been employed in the treatment of gonorrhoea and dropsy, and as a light grateful bitter, in cases of debility, to restore the tone of the stomach.
The stems of this and other species probably contain saponin, and when they are chewed large quantities of lather are produced. The stems are often chewed to clean the teeth and harden the gums. A piece of a branch, about as thick as the little finger, is softened by chewing, and then rubbed against the teeth. In this manner a tooth-brush, and, with it, a powder are obtained, equal, if not superior, to any in use in Europe. When powdered, the stem forms an excellent dentifrice; its aromatic bitter producing a healthy state of the gums, and the mucilage it contains working up by the brush into a kind of soap-like froth.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.