scientific name: Peumus boldus
other common names: Boldino, bolde
growing areas: Chile and Peru, as well as parts of Europe and North America
physical description: A common evergreen, it grows to a height of 25 feet and has leathery leaves that exude a lemon scent.
traditional uses: Boldo is used widely in Central and South America as a medicinal tea to treat a number of gastrointestinal problems. The dried leaves are used as a mild diuretic, choleretic, and blood tonic. Chileans have used it to cure earaches as well as urogenital inflammations, including those brought on by venereal disease. Throughout Latin America, a warm bath with a leaf decoction of boldo is used for rheumatism and dropsy.
availability and dosage: Powdered and dried leaves are available. Commission E recommends an average dose of 3 grams of the herb that are free of ascarida. Some herbalists recommend a half cup of leaf infusion up to two times a day.
contraindications: Commission E reports that contraindications for use of boldo include obstruction of bile ducts and severe liver disease. If gallstones are present, it is recommended that boldo be used only with a physician's approval. special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
James Duke says the genus Peumus contains the toxins pachycarpine and terpineol. The essential oil of boldo should not be used, according to Commission E.
Boldo should not be taken during pregnancy, according to Andrew Chevallier in The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.
medical research: In laboratory studies using animals as subjects, it was found that boldino, the major alkaloid found in the leaves and bark of boldo, acts as an antiinflammatory agent. A study in Chile in 1996 showed that administration of boldine protected rats against induced injury to the colon. The researchers believed the protection was due to the antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects of the boldine.
In another study, this time in Taiwan in 1997, researchers showed that an extract of boldine induced muscle contractions in mice.
Commission E asserts that boldine is used as a choleretic, but tests with rats did not confirm what is believed to be boldine's ability to stimulate production of bile from the gallbladder.