Hierba del Cancer
scientific name: Acalypha guatemalensis Pax & Hoffman, Acalypha arvensis Poeppv & Enbdl.
other common names: Petit mouton, bonda pe, petit pompon, cat tail
growing areas: Native to Central America
physical description: An herb that grows up to 3 feet in height. The leaves are long-stemmed and oval-shaped.
traditional uses: According to Balick and Arvigo, the common name hierba del cancer stems not from the ability of the plant to fight cancer but rather because of the local use of the word cancer to mean an open sore. They report that the plant is used as a remedy in Belize for a variety of serious skin conditions such as fungus, ulcers, ringworm, and itching or burning labia in women. It is one of scores of plants used throughout Latin America as a diuretic. The leaves are used in Guatemala not only as a diuretic but also to treat kidney-related problems. In Haiti it is used to treat diarrhea, inflammations, and dyspepsia.
availability and dosage: Not available in the United States.
contraindications: None noted.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
medical research: In a study of plants used in Guatemala as diuretics and for the treatment of urinary ailments, extracts of hierba del cancer were shown to increase urinary output by 30 percent.
Balick and Arvigo report that studies have shown a dried leaf tincture to be active against Staphylococcus aureus but inactive against some other bacteria. They also noted that extracts of dried twigs, were found to be inactive against human colon cancer cells in vitro.