Herbs & Plants

Himatanthus sucuuba

Botanical Name: Himatanthus sucuuba
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Tribe: Plumerieae
Subtribe: Plumeriinae
Genus: Himatanthus

Synonyms: Plumeria sucuuba Spruce

Common Name: Plumeria sucuuba

Habitat: Himatanthus sucuuba is native to S. America – Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America – Panama. It grows in the rainforests, in both dense primary and the more open, secondary growth areas; favouring deep, well-drained sandy or loamy soils and avoiding areas subject to periodic inundation.

Himatanthus sucuuba is an evergreen tree with a narrowly pyramidal crown and a straight, cylindrical bole of up to 40 cm in diameter. It grows about 8-16 m tall and can be found across South America where it is a known medicinal plant.

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Grows best in a sunny position. Requires a well-drained soil. Grows best in a deep, sandy to loamy soil. Established plants are drought tolerant. Young plants have a moderate rate of growth. The plant can flower all year round

Medicinal Uses:
Himatanthus sucuuba is a well respected and widely used medicinal plant in herbal medicine systems in the Amazon and South America; many of its traditional uses have been explained and verified by research. It is mainly used for treating pain and inflammation related to many conditions; cancerous tumours, and as a broad spectrum antimicrobial for various internal and external infections. Although toxic in larger doses, toxicity studies indicate that the use of the plant at traditional dosages is non-toxic. There have been no toxic, abortive, or birth defects reported. The plant contains several medically active compounds. An antitumor iridoid compound and two depsides showing inhibitory activity of monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) have been isolated from the bark. In addition, two iridoid chemicals called plumericin and isoplumericin have been found in the bark and the latex. These two chemicals have been reported with cytotoxic, anticancer, antifungal and antibacterial actions in laboratory research. An extract of the bark has been shown to provide significant protection from ulcers and to reduce gastric hypersecretion through several novel mechanisms of actions. The latex has shown significant anti-inflammatory and pain relieving actions. The latex can exert anti-inflammatory effects even in the acute phase of the inflammatory process. This action has been attributed to the cinnamate chemicals that are found in the latex and bark. The bark has been shown to be significantly cytotoxic to five different human cancer cell lines, which may help explain why the tree has been used against cancer and tumours for many years in South America. This anti-cancerous action is probably related to the iridoids and triterpenoids in the tree bark. Research has shown that the bark has a greater antifungal effect than a control drug (nistatin) that was used – this action has been attributed to the triterpenic esters found in the bark. The plants effectiveness in treating infected wounds, candida, tuberculosis, syphilis, and even mange might be explained by the documented antimicrobial actions of the bark and latex. The plant’s use in the treatment of asthma might be explained by the smooth-muscle relaxant actions documented in 2005 by Brazilian researchers working with a bark extract. The bark and the latex are considered analgesic, antiinflammatory, antirheumatic, antitumor, antifungal, anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, astringent, blood purifier, emmenagogue, emollient, febrifuge, laxative, purgative, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. A decoction of the bark is taken internally in the treatment of rheumatism, stomach aches and body aches and pain. Applied externally, the powdered tree bark is sprinkled directly onto stubborn wounds and sores. The latex is placed in warm water which is used to bathe the part of the body suffering from arthritis, pain and/or inflammation. The latex is also put directly onto abscesses, sores, wounds, rashes and skin ulcers. It is rubbed on to bot-fly bites in order to suffocate and kill the larvae under the skin (in both animals and humans. Both bark and latex are also used in the treatment of lymphatic gland diseases and inflammation; female disorders such as endometriosis, uterine fibroid tumours, menstrual irregularities and pain, ovarian cysts and ovarian inflammation; cancerous tumours and skin cancers; digestion problems such as indigestion, stomach aches, bowel inflammation and gastric ulcers; coughs, fevers, headaches, asthma and other lung disorders.

Other Uses:
A latex is obtained from wounds in the bark and stems. Although toxic, it is used medicinally in small quantities. The wood is medium-textured, moderately heavy, soft, with poor mechanical properties and not very durable. Easy to work with, it is used for various internal purposes including scantlings, beams, laths and various kinds of boards for partitions; it is also used for making boxes, tool handles and toys. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoa.

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.


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