Porophyllum ruderale can be found as an urban weed in Brazil with it growing in both urban areas and in high altitude fields.
Confirmed sightings of the species have been made at……
- North (Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins)
- Northeast (Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe)
- Central-west (Distrito Federal, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso)
- Southeast (Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo)
- South (Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina)
Locations of (some of) the various poreleaf species found in South America.
Common names for this herb include – Picão-branco, erva-couvinha, couve-cravinho, cravorana, pápalo, pápaloquelite, erva-fresca, erva-de-veado, arruda-de-galinha, tapelcasho, tapegua, arnica do mato, arnica Paulista, arnica-da-praia, arnica brasileira, arnica da horta, arnica de terreiro, arnica do Brasil, arnica das montanhas, arnica silvestre, arnico-do-campo, arnica do mato, arnica de São Paulo, erva federal and panaceia-das-quedas.
It is known by several names in Brazil and as my Spanish is quite rudimentary it should come as no surprise that my Portuguese is almost non-existent. Some of the names (in BOLD) I have broken down (for my own curiosity). It was quite surprising how much the addition of a hyphen made to the word and its meaning.
- erva-couvinha : kohlrabi
erva : herb
couvinha : cabbage
erva couvinha : cabbage grass (it appears the hyphen can make quite a difference in the translation)
- couve-cravinho : cauliflower
couve : Green cabbage
cravinho : cloves
couve cravinho : cloves cabbage (no hyphen = meaning different)
- arnica-da-praia beach arnica
arnica : arnica : Arnica is a common Common name for the pore leaf species (particularly P.ruderale) in Brazil – more on this a little later.
da-praia : from the beach
- Picão-branco : white beak
Picão – I couldnt find a direct translation for this one. The best I could come up with was that its derived from a word that means pickaxe (the weapon not the gardening tool) and that from it comes with the meaning of “to prick or sting” with the last potential candidate being a lexeme for the “sting (of an insect)” (Körtvélyessy etal 2020)
branco : white
Picão branco : white pickle (again with the hyphen : from pick to pickle)
black peacock : (I have added “Black Picão” simply as an etymological comparison to the White Picão)
preto : black
Picão preto : black pick (once again the hyphen : from pick to peacock – which is unusual as I thought pavão was Portuguese for peacock) Picão can also mean prick [noun] (a pain caused by) an act of pricking. sting [noun] an act of piercing with this part. sting [noun] the wound, swelling, or pain caused by this. Another name for this variety is “Spanish needles” – so called because of the prickly nature of the plants seeds.
Another name it is known by in Brazil is cravo de urubu. In the books I have read this is usually translated to “black vulture marigold” (although Google Translate will translate cravo-de-urubu to “vulture carnation”). The odd thing is cravo by itself translates to “clove” but a reverse translation of carnation will also give “cravo” and black vulture marigold translates to “calêndula de abutre preto”
“Arnica” is a common name for this herb. It must be noted that this plant IS NOT the true arnica – Arnica montana. In Brazil arnica is a common name for many medicinal herbs from the Asteraceae family. de Athayde (etal 2019) does a comparative study of plants known as arnica in Brazil and supplies a list of 10 quite different species, all called arnica and all used medicinally. These plants include….
- Calea uniflora
- Chapalia nutans (L)
- Lychnophora diamantina
- Lychnophora salicifolia
- Lychnophora pinaster
- Porophyllum ruderale
- Pseudobrickellia brasiliensis
- Sphagneticola trilobata
- Solidago chilensis
- Senecio brasiliensis
This is why it is vitally important to be able to identify a plant by its Latin name. I have previously Posted (1) on the potential danger that might arise from the use of Common names (particularly when it comes to using the plant internally as a medicine). In México Papalo is commonly called Deer Weed (2) and this can cause potential confusion as there are several other totally unrelated plants called deer weed, none of which can be used interchangeably. In this case there is no real danger of toxicity as papalo is not commonly used as a herbal medicine (it is not even a common culinary herb). There is however a danger when we use the “arnica” nomenclature. Several of the arnicas mentioned above are used internally for medicinal purposes and this can be a problem because true arnica, Arnica montana, is poisonous when taken internally (3) with symptoms ranging from severe gastroenteritis, nervousness, accelerated heart rate, muscular weakness, and death. The author (de Athayde etal 2019) also notes that some of the other arnicas on the list should also be avoided due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are linked with liver damage.
- See Post A Note on Deer Weed : The Danger of Common Names
- Yerba del venado, Hierba de Venado, Yerba del ciervo
- “Final report on the safety assessment of Arnica montana extract and Arnica montana.” International journal of toxicology vol. 20 Suppl 2 (2001): 1-11. doi:10.1080/10915810160233712
- most notably Senecio brasiliensis
Aside from having use as a medicine (for humans – see below) this herb has the potential for medicinally treating the Earth itself. Between 1999 and 2001 in Pacajus, Ceara, Brazil, P.ruderale was one of the “weeds” tested as a soil cover and green manure plant (1) in fields planted with cashew. The weeds provided soil cover throughout the year, and accumulated K, Ca, Mg and C mainly during the initial growth stage of the cashews. Porophyllum ruderale was one of the plants (2) that exhibited the greatest potential for use as green manures. (Maia etal 2004)
- Green manure refers to crops that are grown specifically to be dug back into the soil to add nutrients back into the soil. Green manure can remediate soil that has been planted with demanding crops like brassicas or prepare the soil for hungry crops like corn. It also improves soil structure, water retention and draws minerals up through the soil profile, making them more available to plants.
- the others tested included Wedelia padulosa [Sphagneticola trilobata], Slephontopur hirtoflorus [Elephantopus hirtiflorus?], Setaria geniculata [Setaria parviflora], Leptochloa filiformis, Hyptis suaveolens and Alternanthera brasiliana
In Brazil this herb is listed as being antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic and cicatrisant (1). It is used to treat gout, relieve joint pain and as a bronchodilator. It is also noted that it can be used as an anti-clotting agent and to heal bruises. Biologist and herbalist Thais Roque notes “Medicinally, the leaves of the plant are used to treat wounds, trauma and bruises. As it has an astringent action, it helps to stop bleeding caused by the rupture of small blood vessels, in addition to having a healing function”, “The use is topical, in the form of a compress; with cotton soaked in the tincture or in an alcoholic maceration of the plant. However, it is not recommended to apply the preparation when the wound is open. (2) Another important guideline is not to expose yourself to the sun after use, otherwise the person may have dermatitis”(sic) (3). Some plants produce photosensitizing molecules to aid in protection against pathogens and predatory herbivory. These molecules, when stimulated by light of a certain wavelength exert toxic effects on various biomolecules and cells and can destroy them. This (in theory) is a possible mechanism for dermatitis being triggered as a result of photosensitivity (4). This photosensitivity is believed to be due to the thiophenes in the plant. Qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses of seven samples of P.obscurum collected in four different phenological (5) stages were carried out showing that full flowering stage possesses the highest levels of thiophenes; because of these thiophenes it has been posited that essential oils in P.obscurum have potential in the treatment of oral candidiasis through the use of Antimicrobial photodynamic chemotherapy. This is a newly developed therapy that uses these photosensitizing molecules to induce oxidative damage in microbial pathogens (6) and a study has shown that P.obscurum hexanic extract could be potentially developed to treat Oropharyngeal candidiasis (Postigo etal) (7)
- promoting the healing of a wound or the formation of a cicatrix (a scar resulting from formation and contraction of fibrous tissue in a wound). Cicatrizing activity has been connected with the concentration of tannin (a type of phenolic compound) within the plant
- I have not this warning before about avoiding using the plant on broken skin or open wounds. This is however a standard warning when using Arnica montana (which is not related to the porophyllums). On broken skin, A.montana may cause stinging and, as more of the active ingredient can be absorbed through broken skin, it may also trigger increases in blood pressure and heart rate. This may also happen if it is used in excess (Kriplani etal 2017). Arnica is rarely used as an internal herbal remedy because it can cause dizziness, tremors, and heart irregularities. It may also irritate mucous membranes and cause vomiting. Large doses can even be fatal. DO NOT take arnica by mouth except under close supervision of your herbalist/naturopath/curandero. Due to the lack of safety data it should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- This may be due to the photosensitising effect of the chemistry of this plant. The species P.obscurum has been connected with exactly this issue. See Post : Porophyllum obscurum.
- Photosensitivity is the term used to describe sensitivity to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and other light sources, such as indoor fluorescent light. Photosensitivity can cause rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms in people with both cutaneous (skin) and systemic lupus.
- The scientific study of cyclical biological events, such as first bud appearance, the beginning of flowering, and the end of flowering, in relation to climatic conditions.
- Photodynamic therapy is a modern therapeutic strategy that involves interactions between a light source of a particular wavelength and a photosensitiser in the presence of oxygen. This phototoxic and chemical reaction induces the production of reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damage to the target cells including microbial cells and tumour cells
- a yeast/fungal infection by the Candida albicans organism
The biologist (Thais Roques) however does warn about ingesting the plant.
“There are records of the use of roots and leaves, raw or cooked, as an oral remedy, but it is recommended that this type of treatment be done only with medical indication and monitoring, since arnica is a toxic plant, even when ingested in low doses”, says Thais. I find this warning unusual. Apart from the general warnings regarding allergy to the Asteraceae species I have come across no specific warnings regarding the consumption of the plant (P.ruderale that is – or any others of the species now that I think about it). Some varieties are contraindicated in cases of diarrhoea due to the “cold” nature of the herb (1) but it is a common culinary herb that is not considered harmful. Arnica montana however IS NOT harmless and SHOULD NOT be taken internally. Santos (etal 2016) warns of the internal use of P.ruderale “it is a plant considered toxic in terms of its medicinal use and must be administered with medical indication and monitoring; It is widely used in the treatment of bruises to replace the real arnica (Arnica montana L. -Asteraceae) which is native to Europe. Commonly used topically by the population, intended as the first treatment for trauma and bruises, through the direct application of the extracted tincture on the affected area, or by macerating its leaves or rhizomes with alcohol, and applying it to the injured area”.
- See Post : Porophyllum macrocephalum for more information on the heating/cooling nature of this herb
In other areas of Brazil an infusion of this herb is used to treat hepatitis and the kidneys in general (Bieski etal 2011). Ulysses (etal. 2012) notes the infusion is used for the treatment of hepatitis, the kidneys, wound healing, as a blood cleanser, pain, bone fractures, hypertension and uterine inflammation (as does Bieski etal 2011 – I think Ulysses may have used Bieskis paper as source information). In the Brazilian coastal community of fishermen on Buzios Island a leaf infusion of this herb is used to treat diarrhoea (1). Other ethnomedical uses of this herb reported in Brazil are for fever and for addressing the inflammation of infected wounds (Thomas and Vandebroek 2006). A Brazilian paper (Souza et al 2003) states that P.ruderale is used traditionally in the treatment of epilepsy and as a remedy for genital inflammation. It also mentions that the alcoholic extract of P.ruderale has shown in-vitro action against promastigote forms of the protozoan that causes Leishmaniosis (2). The anti-leishmanial activity of P. ruderale is related to thiophenes in the plant which promote mitochondrial dysfunction in Leishmania amazonensis. (Takashi etal 2013). The two compounds extracted from the herb for this experiment showed low levels of toxicity for human cells, even at the highest concentrations (haemolytic index < 10 % at 500 µg/mL). Silva (etal 1996) also notes that extracts of P.ruderale are non-toxic. The aqueous extract obtained from whole plants did not show toxic effects when administered orally at a dose of (52,500mg) 52.5g/kg. For comparison aspirin is toxic at the (MUCH) lower dose of 200-300mg per kg of bodyweight (https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/aspirin-overdose). Another Brazilian study (Gabrielle M etal) has shown an aqueous extraction of P.ruderale leaves to have anti-nociceptive (3) and anti-inflammatory actions. This is quite interesting as the Chacobo Indians of Bolivia are said to use pápalo leaves to reduce swelling in infections. Quattrocchi (2012) notes that a leaf decoction of P.ruderale is used to treat nausea during menstruation and as an eyewash for children (although to treat what is not mentioned).
- This is quite different from P.macrocephalum which is contraindicated in diarrhoea due to its “cold” nature.
- An ulcerating skin condition caused by the bite of a variety of sand-fly. One form, visceral leishmaniasis (black fever) can be fatal if left untreated. In Campeche this infectious bite is known as papalotilla.
- Inhibits the sensation of pain
The Brazilians have by far provided the best instructions on using P.ruderale medicinally.
For topical use, it is indicated in the treatment of eczema (skin eruptions or coarse/rough skin) and erysipelas (1). For these cases, prepare an infusion with 1 cup (tea) of crushed and chopped leaves in 1 litre of boiling water. Leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and apply in the form of compresses on the affected areas.
As an anti-inflammatory, and also against fever, the infusion can be prepared by adding 1 cup (tea) of boiling water to 1 level spoon (soup) of chopped leaves. Drink 2 cups of tea a day.
In the fight against inflammation and pain in the joints and for treating contusions (bruises), use 4 tablespoons of the chopped fresh herb, 3 cups of alcohol (96 Graus GL)(4) in a cup (250ml) of water. Leave to macerate for 6 hours. Strain, store in a dark bottle. Use for massages and rubs on the affected areas.
Cravinho is also used to fight mycoses (2). Its (freshly extracted) juice or alcoolatura (3) should be used for this. To obtain the juice, mash the leaves, extract the juice and apply to the affected area 2 to 3 times a day. To make alcoolatura, use 3 tablespoons of chopped leaves in 1 cup of alcohol (96 Graus GL)(4) and 1 tablespoon of water. Leave to macerate for 24 hours. Strain, filter and store in a dark bottle for up to 5 days. After this period, make another solution. Apply 3 times a day in mycoses of the skin and nails. Both juice and alcohol should be used until the lesions disappear, and then the treatment should be continued for another 1 or 2 weeks.
- Erysipelas is a superficial form of cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection affecting the skin. Erysipelas affects the upper dermis and extends into the superficial cutaneous lymphatics. It is also known as St Anthony’s fire due to the intense rash associated with it. Symptoms may include redness and pain at the affected site, fevers and chills. Erysipelas requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection. Medication for pain and fever may also be used.
- mycosis, plural mycoses, in humans and other animals, an infection caused by any fungus that invades the tissues, causing superficial, subcutaneous, or systemic disease. Many different types of fungi can cause mycosis, and some types, such as Cryptococcus and Histoplasma, can cause severe, life-threatening infections
- Alcoholaturas (for all intents and purposes a “tincture” are pharmaceutical preparations that result from the dissolving and extractive action of alcohol on fresh vegetable drugs. And they can be prepared cold or boiling, obtaining ordinary and stabilized alcohols (alcoolaturas ordinárias e estabilizadas). These preparations had their origin in the mother tinctures used in homeopathy, in the maceration product: chopped plant in immersion in extractor liquid for 15 hours in the softer parts of the vegetable and 24 hours in the more rigid parts. The elaboration of ordinary alcohols (alcoolaturas ordinárias) is made by maceration for ten days, of the fresh drug cut under alcohol at 90° in a hermetically closed vessel, with the use of alcohol of high degree. The relative amount between the drug and the alcohol is from 1 : 1 to 1 : 2.
- What is 96 GL alcohol? The GL degree corresponds to Gay-Lussac degrees, which indicate the amount in one liter of pure alcohol (ethanol) present in every 100 parts of the solution. For example, in this case 96 ° GL means that in every 100 mL we have 96 mL of alcohol and 4 mL of water. Thus, this value is a percentage by volume ( 96 %v/v and 77%v/v).
Using P.ruderale medicinally as a poultice.
This herb looks to be an excellent herbal addition to wound healing poultices. There are warnings about using it on broken skin however so it may be best to use this plant on bruises (contusions) and sprains.
A wound healing poultice
A poultice, also called a cataplasm (1), is a paste made of herbs, plants, and other substances with healing properties. The paste is spread on a warm, moist cloth and applied to the body to relieve inflammation and promote healing. Some can be spread directly on the skin. Typically, the herbs are mixed with water or oil before being applied. If the herb is particularly potent, such as onion, mustard, garlic, capsicum or ginger, the skin may be protected by a thin cloth. Simply place fresh (or dried herbs) into a muslin bag or a cotton sock. Soak the bag or sock in a bowl of hot water (or warm oil – olive or sesame are good to use and each has their own healing properties) and knead it for a minute to warm and soften the herbs. Apply it to the affected area. You can also mix fresh or dried herbs with just enough cold or hot water to moisten the plant matter. Mash the mixture to a pulp, then spread the thick paste directly on the skin. Wrap the poultice with plastic wrap, muslin, or gauze to hold it in place. This works well with herbs that don’t particularly require heating such as gotu kola, comfrey or marshmallow.
- a medical dressing consisting of a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated (sometimes containing activated charcoal or medicinal clay) that is spread on a cloth and applied to the skin to treat inflamed areas, wounds or improve circulation etc.
Activated charcoal and various medicinal clays (1) are also excellent additions to a poultice. Either used alone or added to a herbal mix these substances are very good at absorbing toxins and even bacterial infections. They can both be used on broken skin.
- Kaolin clay – is used to stop bleeding and for conditions that involve swelling and sores, it can also used for diarrhoea and many other conditions. Bentonite clay – is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate clay. It is named after Fort Benton, Wyoming where its largest sources are found. Its other name, Montmorillonite clay, stems from the region of France called Montmorillon, where it was first found. (Moosavi 2017) These clays can also be eaten (which is called geophagy) for medicinal purposes. Some people deliberately ingest kaolin clay to absorb toxins from their bodies. This is probably one of the most well-studied benefits of clay consumption. (Williams 2010)
Another potential option for a poultice is a herbal teabag. Make a cup of tea as you normally would and then take the bag from the cup. Allow it to cool a little and place the still slightly warm teabag onto the area being treated. You might have to hold it in place with a cloth. Chamomile teabags are particularly soothing for itchy skin conditions (i.e. eczema) and they can even be placed on red, inflamed eyes. Try to use organic herbs and avoid cheap paper teabags (Lord knows what they might be made of). Many teas come in cotton or silk bags and these are good.
Some herbs that are particularly useful for wound healing are outlined below. I have tried to use herbs that might easily be found in the wild or those that are known for (and have a history of) use in poultices specifically for wound healing.
All of the herbs listed below have internal medicinal use as well as external. I’m not going into the internal use here. Just be aware that there may be drug interaction, contraindications and warnings regarding the use of these plants internally and these will need to be researched (or expert knowledge sought) if you wish to use them internally. These warnings are not as relevant when the herbs are used externally. There will be a few cautions though and these will be noted in each herbs description.
Gotu Kola – Centella asiatica
This is a common “weed” of wetland areas. In Australia it can be found growing by lakes, rivers, streams and wetland areas in the urban jungle.
Commonly known as mandukparni or Indian pennywort or jalbrahmi, it has been used as a medicine in the Ayurvedic tradition of India for thousands of years and listed in the historic ‘Sushruta Samhita’, an ancient Indian medical text. In China, known as gotu kola, it is one of the reported “miracle elixirs of life” known over 2000 years ago
Centella extracts have been used traditionally for wound healing and the research has been increasingly supportive for these claims (Yadav etal 2021)(Gohil etal 2010). An aqueous extract applied to open wounds in rats (3 times daily for 24 days) resulted in increased cellular proliferation and collagen synthesis at the wound site, as shown by an increase in collagen content and tensile strength. In addition to wound healing, it was recommended for the treatment of various skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea, fever, amenorrhea, and diseases of the female genitourinary tract. Triterpenoid, saponins, the primary constituents of Centella asiatica are manly believed to be responsible for its wide therapeutic actions.
It is an excellent foodstuff (and this equates it as a quelite to me) and makes for an excellent salad. The following recipe is sourced from Sri Lanka.
Gotu Kola Salad
- 300g gotu kola
- 10 green onions – finely chopped
- 2 green chiles – seeds and stems removed and finely sliced
- 60 g freshly grated coconut
- 4 Tblsp lime juice
- 1 tsp palm sugar
- Salt to taste
- Wash gotu kola well and strip leaves from the stems. Finely shred with a sharp knife
- Combine with rest of ingredients and serve immediately
The next herb is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium – the “thousand leaved herb of Achilles” – so named because the hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and the central character of Homer’s Iliad Achiiles used the herb to treat battle wounds).
Yarrow mainly heals wounds by the stimulation of fibroblast proliferation, migration and collagen synthesis and yarrow extracts exhibit a very prominent wound healing potency at very small concentrations (Temamogullari, etal 2009)(Yadav etal 2021).
Yarrow is used in herbal medicine for its anti-haemorrhagic, healing, and analgesic properties in various regions throughout the world. It was used by northern European and North American native people as a contraceptive, abortifacient, and emmenagogue. Some of these traditional and folk usages have been evaluated showing the potential medicinal use of the plant. The medicinal properties of A. millefolium are recognized worldwide and the plant is included in the national Pharmacopoeias of countries such as Germany, Czech Republic, France and Switzerland. (Saeidnia etal 2011)
If there is bleeding then Yarrow is the herb you need. It can (obviously) be used on open wounds.
Allium cepa (Onion)
Commonly known as an onion, Allium cepa is an annual herb that belongs to the Liliaceae family. The alcoholic extract of the onion bulb possesses wound healing properties and help reduce the healing time of wounds (Tsala etal 2015). An onion poultice can help by improving circulation and blood flow (don’t do this of course if there is already bleeding)
Allium sativum (Garlic) contains allicin which is a potent antimicrobial agent against pathogenic bacteria and fungus. Besides its antimicrobial properties, allicin is also an effective wound healing agent. Garlic is applied to wound in the form of paste of garlic buds.
Garlic paste must be applied for only 20–25min because its prolonged exposure can cause skin damage. Onion is similar in this manner – prolonged use may cause skin irritation and may irritate open wounds.
The juicy pulp of Aloe “leaves” has strong wound healing capacity due to the presence of vitamin C, vitamin E, and essential amino acids. Additionally, it is useful in sunburns, flame burns, cuts, scars, sores. Aloe can be taken internally as well. In both cases only the clear pulp is used. If you carefully look at the skin you will find it has several layers. These layers contain substances that are laxative (1) (also called aperients) or purgative (strongly laxative) depending on how used.
- Laxatives, purgatives, or aperients are substances that loosen stools and increase bowel movements. They are used to treat and prevent constipation.
Althaea officinalis is an ornamental plant in the Malvaceae family. It is commonly known as Marshmallow. The root of this plant has remarkable wound healing properties. When applied as a poultice, it expels toxins and bacteria from wounds and hastens the wound healing process. Beside wounds, it is also useful in burns and bruises. Marshmallow works best as a cold water infusion or maceration. It can also be taken internally for injuries in the gastrointestinal tract.
Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
This herb belongs to the family Boraginaceae and commonly known as Knitbone. Allantoin is a chemical substance found in this plant which imparts remarkable healing properties to it. Comfrey is useful in broken bones, wounds, bruises and burns. It significantly reduces healing time owing to its property of accelerating cell growth. It can be used in form of poultice. Old school herbalism used this plant internally and it was particularly known for addressing intestinal bleeding.
Comfrey is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone when taken internally. It contains chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that can cause reportedly liver damage, lung damage, and cancer. Despite safety concerns, comfrey is used binternally for stomach ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, diarrhoea, bloody urine, cough, bronchitis, cancer, and chest pain (angina). It is also used as a gargle for gum disease and sore throat. The internal use of this plant is restricted in Australia and the U.S.A. Several cases of acute liver injury resembling sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (SOS) due to oral comfrey have been published. The injury usually arises within 1 to 2 months of starting the comfrey product (either extract in tablet form or large amounts of comfrey tea) with onset of right upper quadrant pain, nausea and weight gain (from fluid retention) followed by jaundice. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids contained in comfrey include intermedine, lycopsamine, symphtine and echnimidine, which are metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzymes into highly toxic pyrrole metabolites which have alkylating properties that can damage hepatic endothelial cells and can cause sinusoidal obstruction. The amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey varies by the part of the plant used, its age and time of harvesting. (Livertox 2022).
In Australia Comfrey is a Schedule 5 (1) and Schedule 10 (2) medication (3).
- Schedule 5 – SYMPHYTUM spp. (Comfrey) for dermal use. – Caution – Chemicals which are not likely to cause harm. They need suitable packaging with simple warnings and safety directions on the label. This is only relevant when comfrey is used topically (usually as a cream)
- Schedule 10 – COMFREY (Symphytum) being preparations and admixtures for internal use of comminuted (reduced to minute particles or fragments) leaves or dried and powdered root or any part of the dried plant – Chemicals that are so dangerous they are banned altogether.
Calendula officinalis is a common ornamental herb. Its flowers possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Topical application of Calendula flower paste is useful for abrasions and skin infections
Musa paradisiaca is a monocarpic plant of the family Musaceae. It is commonly known as banana. Experiments have proved that sterilized leaves of banana act as good wound dressing agent compared to other dressing materials and can help with the faster healing of wounds
Conceição Trucom on the website Doce Limão notes the use of P.ruderale in the drink known as kombucha (1)
- Kombucha originated in Northeast China (historically referred to as Manchuria) around 220 B.C. and was initially prized for its healing properties. Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Sometimes referred to as a “mushroom/fungi” the kombucha in question is a living probiotic organism in the form of a gelatinous mass of symbiotic bacteria (as Acetobacter xylinum) and yeasts (as of the genera Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces) grown to produce a fermented beverage which is said to confer health benefits. The name Kombucha has a couple of origins. One story is that the name is reportedly derived from Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician who brought the fermented tea to Japan as a curative for Emperor Inkyo. Webster’s Dictionary maintains that the use of kombucha in the English language likely stems from the misapplication of Japanese words: kombucha, kobucha (which translate to “tea made from kelp”), kobu, konbu (which mean “kelp”) and cha (meaning “tea”). In Japanese, the term konbu-cha or kobu-cha (昆布茶, “kelp tea”) refers to a kelp tea made with powdered konbu (an edible kelp from the family Laminariaceae) and is a completely different beverage from the fermented tea usually associated with kombucha elsewhere in the world. There are warnings about the over consumption of kombucha. It is recommended to consume no more than a maximum of 200 ml of kombucha/day. Remember that kombucha is a probiotic drink with medicinal properties. Overuse may cause intestinal upset or loose bowels
The Doce Limão website is a health care/self care site existing with the mission of……
- clarifying and informing everyone with objective, practical and coherent information with the purpose of making possible a greater autonomy of choices and decisions, broadening perceptions, perspectives and to assist you with making informed decisions towards full and integral health and to provoke an increase in the conscious consumption of raw foods
The site provides interesting herbal admixtures for adding to the kombucha including camomila, picão preto ou branco, erva de bicho, moringa oleífera, carqueja, canela de velho, aroeira, vinagreira, folhas oliveira ou de uva, mate verde ou tostado…
- Camomila – chamomile – Two of the species, Matricaria recutita (German chamomile), and Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile) are commonly used to make herbal infusions for beverages. Chamomile was described in ancient medical writings and was an important medicinal herb in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Today, chamomile is promoted for sleeplessness, anxiety, and gastrointestinal conditions such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea.
- erva de Bicho – Polygonum acre – an infusion of this plant can be used for treating problems such as poor circulation, varicose veins, urinary infections, rheumatism, skin infections, hair loss, muscle aches, among other ailments. It can also be used as a poultice for skin conditions
- picão preto – described above (Bidens Pilosa)
- picão branco –called piojito in Mexico. See Post : Piojito : Galinsoga parviflora for more information on this herb.
- Moringa oleifera – the Drumstick tree (so named because of the shape of its fruits), every part of the tree is suitable for either nutritional or commercial purposes. The leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins and other essential phytochemicals. Extracts from the leaves are used to treat malnutrition, augment breast milk in lactating mothers. It is used as potential antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and antimicrobial agent. (Gopalakrishnan etal 2016). WARNING. Moringa may possess anti-fertility and uterine contracting qualities and is therefore not recommended for use by pregnant women.
- Carqueja – (Baccharis trimera) a native plant found throughout South America that is used to treat pain, indigestion, swelling, water retention, and constipation. It is also used to protect the liver, prevent ulcers, purify the blood, aid digestion, reduce fever, and cause abortion. Other uses include treating chest pain (angina), diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, intestinal worms, viral infections, and poor blood circulation. Carqueja is also used to increase sexual desire. Some people apply carqueja directly to the skin to treat wounds. (another poultice herb here people)
- canela de velho – Miconia Albicans – This plant has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, antitumor, hepatoprotective and digestive tonic properties and therefore has health benefits such as blood purification, neutralization of free radicals and reduction of joint pain and inflammation, and as such makes an excellent herb for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Aroeira – Schinnus Terebinthifolius (Brazilian Peppertree) – WARNING – the use of aroeira is not indicated for those who have very sensitive skin or those who have gastrointestinal problems. The excessive consumption of this plant can have a purgative and laxative effect and trigger allergic reactions on the skin and mucous membranes (so its use as a poultice herb should be done cautiously). Virtually all parts of this tree, including its leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, resin, and oleoresin (or balsam) have been used medicinally by indigenous peoples throughout the tropics. Throughout South and Central America, Brazilian aroeira is reported to be an astringent, antibacterial, diuretic, digestive stimulant, tonic, antiviral, and wound healer. In Peru, the sap is used as a mild laxative and a diuretic, and the entire plant is used externally for fractures and as a topical antiseptic. The oleoresin is used externally as a wound healer, to stop bleeding, and for toothaches, and it is taken internally for rheumatism and as a purgative.
- vinagreira – Hibiscus sabdariffa (Flor de Jamaica) – This plant is a favourite of mine and amongst my friens at FOMEX I am known as “Jamaica Man”. I have gone into this plant in with more detail previously. See Posts : Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa); Flor de Jamaica : The C-Bomb; Recipe : Agua de Jamaica and Flor de Jamaica : A Confusion of Hibisci*
- folhas oliveira – (Olea europaea) olive leaves
- folhas de uva – (Vitis vinifera) grape leaves
- Mate tea is produced from roasted yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis). Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil., Aquifoliaceae) is a native tree growing in the subtropics of South America, present in Southern Brazil, Northeastern Argentina, Eastern Paraguay, and Uruguay. The yerba mate beverage has been consumed traditionally by Guarani indigenous people since before the conquest of South America by the Spaniards. Yerba mate is not considered to be a medicinal plant by its own virtues but is culturally a very important type of medicinal plant intake. Few ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological studies mention that various medicinal plants are consumed together with the yerba mate beverage by Mestizo and European migrants living in Argentina and Paraguay. Ninety-seven species are employed in hot and cold versions of the yerba mate beverage. The most important species are as follows: Allophylus edulis (highest number of citations), Aristolochia triangularis (highest relative importance value), and Achyrocline flaccida and Achyrocline tomentosa (highest score by Index of Agreement on Species). (Kujasawa 2018). The recipe mentions both green and toasted varieties of mate. This herb is high in caffeine so its stimulant qualities might need to be considered before using this plant.
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