scientific name: Costusspicatus
other common names: Cana agria, canita agria, cana amarga
growing areas: Native to an area from Mexico to Brazil
physical description: A tall perennial plant with thin, fleshy stems. The leaves are egg-shaped and pointed at the tip with brown hairs on the edges.
traditional uses: Sour cane contains a bitter-tasting sap that is obtained from the plant by crushing it. It is used in Central America for a variety of ailments. In Costa Rica it is used for muscle pain and kidney and urinary function, and is sold widely by herb vendors as a fresh item. In the West Indies, the plant decoction is taken to relieve flatulence and rheumatism, and in Trinidad it is used to relieve the urinary burning that accompanies venereal disease, according to Julia Morton. She also noted that some Brazilians drink the plant juice with sugar and water as a hot-weather beverage.
availability and dosage: Available by mail order. No information available on dosage.
contraindications: None noted.
special precautions: Consult your physician before beginning any use of an ethnobotanical substance for medicinal purposes.
medical research: Nonenpted.