scientific name: Boerhaavia hirsuta
other common names: Pigweed, hog weed, pega-pinto
growing areas: Wide growing area stretching from the West Indies, Argentina, and Mexico to Central America
physical description: This perennial ground weed that proliferates throughout the tropics has a starchy, thick tap root. Its flowers are pink, and the seeds are coated with gummy hairs that tend to cling to people, birds, and animals, said Morton. traditional uses: In Latin America, it has served a number of uses, including as a treatment for asthma, as an expectorant, and as a diuretic. It is also reported to be used in Brazil as a cholagogue and as a treatment r gallstones. Researchers also report that a decoction adVfrom the root has been used to halt uterine bleeding. For liver problems, a plaster made from powdered leaves has been placed over the area beneath which the organ lies.
In the Ayurvedic tradition of Indian folk medicine, erva tostao has been used as a diuretic and as a treatment for edema.
availability and dosage: It is available as a leaf powder. Dosages vary.
contraindications: None noted.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
High doses are said to cause vomiting.
medical research: Researchers in India have tested erva tostao's use as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory. The researchers chemically induced swelling in the paws of rats and measured the reduction after an extract of the plant was given to the animals. They found a significant reduction in swelling after the extract was administered. The study also measured urine output from the animals after the extract was given and found increases in urine output.
The Indian research also found that the plant had maximal effect when the extract was taken from the roots and leaves rather than the stems. It was also determined that the time of the harvesting of the plants had an impact on the plant's medicinal effects, with maximal effectiveness if harvested during the rainy season.