scientific name: Bidens pilosa other common names: Black Jack, Spanish nettle, mozote
growing areas: Native to South America, Africa, and the Caribbean
physical description: Bidens pilosa is a small annual herb that grows to a height of about 3 feet. It has a small yellow flower.
traditional uses : It is reported to be used in the Peruvian Amazon for a number of ailments, including angina, dysentery, and worms. It is also used in Peru as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory, as well as to speed childbirth and as a treatment for hepatitis, according to Leslie Taylor.
availability and dosage: It is available in the United States as a powder. Dosages vary. Herbalists recommend a half cup of the decoction three times a day.
contraindications: Since it is reported to be used as a uterine stimulant, it should be avoided by pregnant women.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
Brazilian researchers have said that the use of Bidens pilosa must await clarification of the plant's toxicity because a link with esophageal cancer has been suggested.
medical research: Bidens pilosa was among fifty-four plant extracts tested in an experiment of antibacterial activity in South Africa. Five types of bacteria were used in the study, including E. coli and two types of staphylococcus. The bacteria were placed in sterile petri dishes, the extracts were then introduced, and the antibacterial activity was determined by the size of the zone of inhibition or clear space where the organism did not grow. The Bidens pilosa extract was found to have some of the highest antibacterial activity against the staphylococcus strains, but not the E. coll. The results tended to support the traditional medicinal uses of the plant, the researchers concluded.