scientific name: Krameria triandra
other common names: Raiz para, mapato, Peruvian rhatany, pumacuchu growing areas: Western slopes of the Andes in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet
physical description: Rhatany is an evergreen shrub that grows about 3 feet in height and produces a large red flower. Its root, the part that is used medicinally, is deep.
traditional uses: The major traditional use of rhatany is as an astringent and for gastrointestinal problems. It is also reported to be used by indigenous peoples as a tooth preservative. Herbalists say it is useful as a mouthwash and to treat sore throat and canker sores. Commission E reports that it is used as a topical treatment for inflammations on the oral and pharyngeal mucosae. The primary active ingredients are tannins.
availability and dosage: Commission E recommends about 1 gram of powdered root in a cup of water as a decoction or 5 to 10 drops of rhatany tincture in a glass of water three times a day.
contraindications: Fetrow and Avila report that rhatany is contraindicated for persons sensitive to substances in the plant.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
Fetrow and Avila warn that products containing tannic acid are generally considered unsafe and ineffective and that frequent use can compromise the mucous membranes so that toxicity results. Commission E says that allergic reactions of the mucous membranes may occur in rare cases.
medical research: None noted.