scientific name: Maytenus laevis
other common names: Chucchu, chuchuhaso
growing areas: Areas of the Amazon basin, including Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia
physical description: It is a large tree that can grow to the height of 100 feet, creating a canopy in the forest. Its leaves can grow up to 12 inches long. It produces a small white flower.
traditional uses: It is reported to be used by several tribes in the sub-Andean rain forest. An alcohol infusion made from the powdered root bark has been used as a tonic for treating arthritis and rheumatism and even as an aphrodisiac. Extracts from a related species (Mayte-nus ilicifolia) are reported to have been used by one tribe of indigenous people in the Amazon for birth control. Chuchuhuasha has also been used as an antitumor agent for skin cancer.
availability and dosage: The bark is available in powdered form. Dosages vary. Some herbalists recommend taking one cup of a bark decoction up to three times a day.
contraindications: None noted.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
medical research: Chemicals extracted from the bark have been found by Italian researchers to have antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects. However, a study done by researchers in Spain showed that extracts of a related species, Maytenus macrocarpa, did not have any antitumor activity against human lung, colon, and melanoma cancer cells in a laboratory setting.