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Herbs & Plants

Smilax ornata

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Botanical Name : Smilax ornata
Family: Smilacaceae
Genus:     Smilax
Species: S. regelii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Liliales

Synonyms:Smilax regelii, Smilax Medica. Red-bearded Sarsaparilla

Common names:Sarsaparilla, Honduran sarsaparilla, and Jamaican sarsaparilla,Sarsaparilla,  khao yen, saparna, smilace, smilax, zarzaparilla, jupicanga

Habitat: Smilax ornata is native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. Principally Costa Rica.

Description:
Smilax ornata is a large perennial climber, rhizome underground, large, short, knotted, with thickened nodes and roots spreading up to 6 or 8 feet long. Stems erect, semiwoody, with very sharp prickles 1/2 inch long. Leaves large, alternate stalked, almost evergreen with prominent veins, seven nerved mid-rib very strongly marked.  It produces small flowers and black, blue, or red berry-like fruits which are eaten greedily by birds. Cortex thick and brownish, with an orange red tint; when chewed it tinges the saliva, and gives a slightly bitter and mucilaginous taste, followed by a very acrid one; it contains a small proportion of starch, also a glucoside, sarsaponin, sarsapic acid, and fatty acids, palmitic, stearic, behenic, oleic and linolic.

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Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: Root.
Smilax regelii was considered by Native Americans to have medicinal properties, and was a popular European treatment for syphilis when it was introduced from the New World. From 1820 to 1910, it was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis. Modern users claim it is effective for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, herpes, and leprosy, along with a variety of other complaints. There is no peer-reviewed research available for these claims. There is, however, peer-reviewed research suggesting that S. regelii extracts have in vitro antioxidant properties, like many other herbs.

Sarsaparilla has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailment, and a tonic for physical weakness. Sarsaparilla root was used by South American indigenous tribes as a general tonic where New World traders found it and introduced it into European medicine in the 1400’s. European physicians considered it an alterative tonic, blood purifier, diuretic and diaphoretic.

Other Uses:
Smilax regelii is used as the basis for a soft drink, frequently called Sarsaparilla. It is also a primary ingredient in old fashioned-style root beer, in conjunction with sassafras, which was more widely available prior to studies of its potential health risks.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilax_regelii
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sarjam17.html
http://www.theherbprof.com/hrbSarsaparilla.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Andira inermis

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Botanical Name :Andira inermis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Andira
Species: A. inermis

Synonyms: Vouacapoua inermis. Bastard Cabbage Tree. Worm Bark. Yellow Cabbage Tree. Jamaica Cabbage Tree.

Common Names:Cabbage bark (in Belize), almendro macho (in El Salvador), almendro de río or river almond (Honduras), bastard cabbage tree, cabbage angelin (USA), cabbage bark (USA), cabbage tree, carne asada (Costa Rica), guacamayo (Honduras), Jamaica cabbage tree, moca (Puerto Rico), partridge wood (USA), worm bark, or yellow cabbage tree.

Habitat :Andira inermis is   native to the area from southern Mexico through Central America to northern South America (Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil); it has been introduced to the Caribbean, the Antilles, Florida, and Africa.

Description:
A leguminous tree, growing very tall and branching towards the top called Cabbage Tree because it forms a head in growing; it has a smooth grey bark which, cut into long pieces, is the part utilized for medicine. It is thick, fibrous, scaly, and of an ashy brownish colour externally, covered with lichens – the inside bark is yellow and contains a bitter sweet mucilage, with an unpleasant smell. In Europe the bark of another species, Avouacouapa retusa, has been utilized. It grows in Surinam, is a more powerful vermifuge than Vouacapoua inermus and does not as a rule produce such injurious after-effects. In the dried state it is without odour, but has a very bitter taste; when powdered it has the colour of cinnamon.

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It is a nitrogen-fixing tree. It is evergreen and unbuttressed and has a dense crown and pink flowers. It grows primarily in riparian zones in forests along rivers. It can also be found in drier areas, including roadsides, pastures, and woodlands.

Constituents:  Jamaicine-Andirin aglucoside, an inodorous, bitter, acrid resin.

Medicinal Action and Uses:  Cabbage tree produces a smooth grey bark which has been used in herbal medicine systems as a strong purgative to expel intestinal worms. It is treated with much respect by the rainforest shamans and herbal healers as a very powerful medicine since too large of a dose causes vomiting, fever, delirium, and even death. Some Indian tribes in the Amazon prepare a bark decoction to use for ring worm and other fungal infections on the skin. Usually taken as an infusion

Narcotic vermifuge. Cabbage Tree bark used in large doses may cause vomiting, fever and delirium, especially if cold water is drunk just before or after taking it. In the West Indies it is largely employed as a vermifuge to expel worm – ascaris lumbrecoides – but if used incautiously death has been known to occur. The powder purges like jalap.

Other Uses:
The tree’s wood is used for lumber, and its smooth gray bark reportedly has narcotic, laxative, and vermifuge properties.

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.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cabtre01.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andira_inermis

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Brosimum alicastrum

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Botanical Name :Brosimum alicastrum
Family: Moraceae
Tribe: Dorstenieae
Genus: Brosimum
Species: B. alicastrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names:Ramon Nut , Maya nut, breadnut (names in indigenous Mesoamerican and other languages, including but not limited to: ramon,ojoche, ojite, ojushte, ujushte, ujuxte, capomo, mojo, ox, iximche, masica in Honduras, uje in Michoacan, and mojote in Jalisco.)

Habitat :Brosimum alicastrum grows in the west coast of central Mexico, southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Caribbean, and the Amazon. Large stands in moist lowland tropical forests 300–2000 m elevation (especially 125–800 m), in humid areas where rainfall of 600–2000 mm, and average temperature 24 C / 75 F.

Description:
Brosimum alicastrum is a fast-growing, evergreen,monoecious tree with latex, of up to 40 m in height and 150cm d.b.h. The trunk is straight, cylindrical, and grooved withwell-developed spurs and a pyramidal crown made up of rising,and then hanging, branches with a dense foliage. The leaves are simple, alternate, ovate-lanceolate, elliptic to ovate,and 4 to 18 cm long by 2 to 7.5 cm wide. In the Yucatan Peninsula,the tree grows in calcareous soils with outcropping rocks,forming part of the tropical forest. The regions where the treeis found have an average annual temperature of 26 °C, with amaximum temperature of 36.7 °C and a minimum of 14.9 °C.The maximum temperatures correspond to the months ofApril and May, the minimum ones to the months of Decemberand January. Average annual precipitation is approximately1288 mm, ranging between 900 and 1800 mm. The tree grows from sea level to 1000 m.

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The tree begins to yield flowers and fruits at 4 or 5 yearsof age. Because its geographic distribution is extensive, B. alicastrumblooms at different times, but especially January to June. Its fruits ripen between April and September, dependingon geographic locations (Chavelas and Duvall 1988b).Insoutheastern Mexico, the plant blooms precociously and abundantly from April to July, and fruits from June to October (Juárez and others 1989). The flowers are cream in color and arranged in a capitula. In July through August the abundant fruits ripen and begin to fall to the ground. The fruits are globose berries, 2 to 2.5 cm in diameter, pulpy, sweet, and yellow or orange when ripe. Each fruit contains one seed (Cabrera and others 1982, Pennington and Sarukhan 1968). Seeds range in shape from globose to subglobose, are slightly depressed, and are 1 to 2 cm in diameter. The seedcoat is yellowishbrown, smooth, opaque, and membranous-papyritious. A vascularized thickening in the hilar region is strongly attached to the embryo in fresh seeds, but is brittle and easily released in old seeds.

Edible & Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used  :   :nuts & nutpower

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Constituents:  fiber, calcium, potassium, folic acid, iron, zinc, protein and vitamins a, e, c and b

The nuts are rich in starch, proteins,and vitamins A and C. In some places, they are eaten boiled and are said to taste like chestnuts. Toasted and ground, they are used as a coffee substitute.

Brosimum alicastrum nut powder is a highly nutritious food that has been used as a famine food and crop since the time of the Mayans. Today the chocolate like taste is enjoyed as a healthy, non-caffeine coffee substitute.

Other Uses:
Brosimum alicastrum has multiple uses, although its potential is unknown outside its perimeter of natural distribution. Anthropological research indicates that B. alicastrum was one of the main means of support of the ancient Mayas, who cultivated it intensely. One of the most outstanding characteristics of this plant is that it remains green during the dry season, thus being the only existing source of forage in many places. The branches, leaves, fruits, and seeds are used to feed cattle. They also serve as a nutritional supplement for pigs and chickens. From 7 to 8 tons of fruits and from 35 to 40 tons of foliage can be harvested from 125 trees per hectare .

Specific gravity of the wood is 0.69.The wood is white or yellowish, and it is used for firewood, railroad ties, veneer, floors, tool handles, packing boxes, inexpensive furniture and cabinets, and bee honeycombs, as well as rural construction and handicrafts. The tree is cultivated in numerous backyards, and it is planted as a shade and ornamental tree in streets, parks, and gardens .

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brosimum_alicastrum
http://www.mayanutinstitute.org/userfiles/files/T2%20Anibal%20niembro.pdf
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail526.php

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Herbs & Plants

Vitex gaumeri

Botanical Name : Vitex gaumeri
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Vitex
Species: V. gaumeri
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names : Fiddlewood, Walking Lady, or Yax-nik

Habitat :Vitex gaumeri is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.The species is found in damp forest or secondary formations, often on limestone and occasionally pine ridges.

Description:
Vitex gaumeri is a  small to midium  tree; leaves opposite, palmately compound; leaflets elliptic, base obtuse, margin entire, apex obtuse to acute, minutely pubescent; inflorescence an axillary panicle; corolla bilaterally symmetric, blue, with white and/or yellow at the throat; fruit globose, fleshy.

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Medicinal Uses:
To treats skin fungus, infected sores, and ringworm, toasted and powdered fiddle wood bark is applied over a bit of oil which holds the powder on the skin. A tea made from boiled bark is useful to wash wounds. For biliousness a strip of bark 1 inch by 3 inches is boiled in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes and taken in ½ cups doses over 12 hours- the use of this treatment should not exceed 3 days. Leaves boiled in water are used as a bath for asthma, malaria and chills. Crushed leaves are applied as a poultice to sores and wounds

Other Uses:
The wood is durable and used in the construction of diverse items. Listed as an important source of pollen and/or nectar for bees (Souza Novello 1981).

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://chalk.richmond.edu/flora-kaxil-kiuic/v/vitex_gaumeri.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm
http://beta.backyardnature.net/yucatan/vitex.htm
http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/37086/0

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Herbs & Plants

Acalypha arvensis

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Botanical Name : Acalypha arvensis
Family :Euphorbiaceae – Spurge family
Genus: Acalypha L. – copperleaf
Species: Acalypha arvensis Poepp. – field copperleaf
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom :Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order :Euphorbiales

Common Name : Cancer Bush, Field Copperleaf
Vernacular names:
Creole speaking countries : lanmwaz, zeb akrab, zouti-bata
Guatemala : hierba del cáncer

Habitat :Native to Mexico, Central America, northern South America to Brazil, Bolivia. Herb of open disturbed moist areas.

Description:
Acalypha arvensis  is a forb/herb (a forb/herb is a non-woody plant that is not a grass) of the genus Acalypha. It’s duration is annual which means it grows for one season only. Acalypha Arvensis or Field Copperleaf‘s floral region is North America US

You may click to see the pictures of  Acalypha arvensis       

Annual or perennial plant, up to 50 cm in height, with branches sometimes angling down.  Leaves elongated, ovate, or glandular-punctate, 3 to 7 cm in long.  Flowers, in spikes, 1.5 to 3 cm long, emerging from axillary leaf shoots; capsule 2 mm, pilose.

Medicinal Uses:
The common name hierba del cancer stems not from the ability of the plant to fight cancer but rather because of the local use of the word cancer to mean an open sore.  The plant is used as a remedy in Belize for a variety of serious skin conditions such as fungus, ulcers, ringworm and itching or burning labia in women.  It is used throughout Latin America as a diuretic. The leaves are used in Guatemala not only as a diuretic but also to treat kidney-related problems.  In Haiti  it is used to treat diarrhea, inflammations and dyspepsia.    In a study of plants used in Guatemala as a diuretic and for the treatment of urinary ailments, extracts of the plant were shown to increase urinary output by 52%.  A dried leaf tincture has been shown to be active against Staphylococcus aureus but inactive against some other bacteria.

Excellent remedy to wash skin conditions of the worst kind such as chronic rashes, blisters, peeling skin, deep sores, ulcers, fungus, ringworm, inflammation, itching and burning of labia in women – boil one entire plant in one quart water for 10 minutes; strain and wash area with very hot water 3 times daily.  Leaves may be dried and toasted and passed through a screen to make a powder to sprinkle on sores, skin infections, or boils. For stomach complaints or urinary infections, boil one entire plant in 3 cups water for 5 minutes; drink 3 cups of warm decoction 3 times a day (1 cup before each meal).  The local use of the word “cancer” refers to a type of open sore.  A dried leaf tincture was shown to have in vitro activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.tramil.net/fototeca/imageDisplay1.php?id_elem=250&lang=en
http://www.sagebud.com/field-copperleaf-acalypha-arvensis/
http://www.saintlucianplants.com/floweringplants/euphorbiaceae/acalarve/acalarve.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACAR16

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm