Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Herbs: Macela


scientific name: Achyroclinesatureoides

other common names: Juan bianco, macela do campo, marcela hembra

growing areas: Native to Venezuela and parts of the Brazilian Amazon as well as Central America

physical description: It is an aromatic shrub that grows to a height of about 3 feet. It hasilowers that are small and yellowish or white. The seed/are oval-shaped and bristled.

traditional uses: Macela has a well-respected reputation in South America as a medicinal plant useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems and inflammations. In Venezuela it is reported to be used as an emmen-agogue and in Brazil as cough medicine. Argentines also have used it as an emmenagogue and to treat vaginal infections.

availability and dosage: Available in powdered leaf form. Dosages vary. Herbalists recommend a half cup of the leaf infusion once or twice daily.

contraindications: None noted.

special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes. It has been used as an emmenagogue.

medical research: A number of laboratory experiments have demonstrated that macela extracts have been useful in treating artificially induced inflammations in rats. Additional studies have shown the flavonoids present in macela to have analgesic and antispasmodic properties, as well as having an effect on constipation.

In a Brazilian study aimed at evaluating macela's anti-inflammatory properties, the ears of laboratory mice were irritated with the application of croton oil. For each test animal, one swollen ear was treated with the topical application of an extract of macela, while the other was left untreated. Five hours into the experiment, and at the height of the irritation, the animals were sacrificed and small disks were punched out of both ears and weighed. Researchers assumed the difference in the weight of the ears would be an indication of the response of the swelling to the plant extract. The results indicated that a water extract showed the greatest reduction of the swelling (by 41 percent). As a result, the researchers believed the tests supported the use in folk medicine of macela in the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Tests have also been done with macela extracts showing that in laboratory settings it has been effective in killing the parasites that cause trypanosomiasis in humans, as well as other microorganisms.

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