by Life Enthusiast Staff
Chuchuhuasi or "Tree of Life" in Venezuela
A soothing and healing general tonic. Especially healing to burns and injuries. Aphrodisiac accounts are common.
Botanical: Maytenus krukovii, laevis, macrocarpa, ebenifolia
Common Names: Chuchuhuasi, Chucchu huashu, Chuchuasi, chuchasha
Part Used: Bark
Quoted from Raintree Nutrition
Chuchuhuasi is an enormous canopy tree of the Amazon rainforest which grows up to 100 feet in height. Several botanical names have been given to this one species of tree which include M. krukovii, M. laevis, M. macrocarpa and M. ebenifolia. It has large leaves, which can reach lengths of between 10 and 30 cm, small white flowers when in bloom and extremely tough, heavy reddish-brown bark.
|MAIN ACTIONS:||OTHER ACTIONS:|
|reduces inflammation||kills cancer cells|
|relieves pain||prevents tumors|
|relaxes muscles||stimulates digestion|
Indigenous People of the Amazon rainforest have been using the bark of Chuchuhuasi medicinally for centuries. It's name means "trembling back" which describes its long history of use for arthritis rheumatism and back pain. To treat arthritis and rheumatism in the rainforest, a cup of the decoction is taken three times a day for more than a week. In addition to an arthritis remedy, Chuchuhuasi is also used as a muscle relaxant, aphrodisiac, pain-reliever, for adrenal support, as an insect repellent, immune stimulant and to balance and regulate menstrual periods. People along the Amazon believe that Chuchuhuasi is an aphrodisiac and tonic and the bark soaked in the local rum (aguardiente) is a popular jungle drink which is even served to tourists. In Peru, Chuchuhuasi is still considered the "best remedy" for arthritis among both city and forest dwellers. In Colombia, the Siona Indians boil a small piece of the bark (5 cm) in water (2 liters) until one liter remains and drink it for arthritis and rheumatism. In Peruvian herbal medicine today, Chuchuhuasi is used for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and menstrual irregularities and pain. Local healers and Curanderos in the Amazon use Chuchuhuasi as a general tonic, to speed healing, and as a synergist combined with other medicinal plants for many types of sicknesses.
Due to its long history of use and its incredible effectiveness, there has been much clinical interest in determining why Chuchuhuasi works. In the 1960's, an American pharmaceutical company discovered it's potent immune stimulating properties, finding that it dramatically increased phagocytosis in mice. Later, Italian researchers in the mid-1970's studying a chuchuhuasi extract used effectively to treat skin cancers, identified its antitumor properties. It's anti-inflammatory properties were discovered in the 1980's by another Italian research group. They discovered that its anti-inflammatory, radiation protectant action and antitumor properties were at least partially linked to triterpenes and antioxidants isolated in the trunk bark. In 1993, a Japanese research group isolated a group of novel alkaloids in Chuchuhuasi which may be responsible for its effectiveness in treating arthritis and rheumatism. In the U.S. a pharmaceutical company studying its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties has determined that these alkaloids in Chuchuhuasi can effectively inhibit enzyme production of protein kinase C (PKC). PKC inhibitors have been of much interest world wide because there is evidence that too much of this enzyme is involved in a wide variety of disease processes including arthritis, asthma, brain tumors, cancer and cardiovascular disease. It is expected that if the constituents in chuchuhuasi which are responsible for inhibiting PKC can be synthesized, a new arthritis drug will be developed. Meantime, the natural bark extract of this important Amazon Rainforest tree will continue to be the most effective natural remedy for arthritis as it has for centuries.
- Kenneth Jones, 1995. Cat's Claw: Healing Vine of Peru., Sylvan Press
- Schultes, Richard Evans and Robert E. Raffauf, 1990., The Healing Forest, Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the Northwest Amazonia (Portland, OR Dioscorides Press).
- Duke, James A. and Rodolfo Vasquez, 1994., Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary (Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press): 114.
- Easterling, John., 1992., Traditional Uses of Rainforest Botanicals
- Maxwell, Nicole, 1990., Witch Doctor's Apprentice (New York, NY: Citadel Press): 363-381.
- Kember Mejia and Elsa Reng, 1995. Plantas medicinales de uso popular en la Amazonia Peruana. AECI and IIAP, Lima, Peru.
- Taylor, Leslie, 1997. Personal field notes with Curandero Jose Fuerra Cabrerra near the village of Tam Hisaco, September 1997.
- DiCarlo, F. J. et al., "Reticuloendothelial System Stimulants of Botanical Origin," Journal of the Reticuloendothelial Society (1964): 224-232.
- Martinod, P. et al., "Isolation of Tingenone and Pristimerin from Maytenus chuchuhuasha," Phytochemistry 15 (1976): 562-563.
- Gonzalez, J. et al., "Chuchuhuasha-A Drug Used in Folk Medicine in the Amazonian and Andean Areas. A Chemical Study of Maytenus laevis," Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5 (1982): 73-77.
- Itokawa, H. et al., "Oligo-Nicotinated Sesquiterpene Polyesters from Maytenus ilicifolia," Journal of Natural Products 56 1993 : 1479-1485.
- Sekar, Kumara V. S. et al., "Mayteine and 6-Benzoyl-6-deacetylmayteine from Maytenus krukovii," Planta Medica 61 (1995): 390.
- Bradshaw, D. et. al., "Therapeutic Potential of Protein Kinase C Inhibitors," Agents and Actions 38 (1993): 135-147
The above text has been quoted from the book, Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest