Health benefits of West Indian Elm

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West Indian elm Quick Facts
Name: West Indian elm
Scientific Name: Guazuma ulmifolia
Origin Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil
Colors Green when young turning to purplish black as they mature
Shapes Globose or ellipsoid capsule, woody, tubercled, 5-celled, 1.2-4 cm long and 1.2-2.5 cm wide, containing numerous, seeds
Health benefits Cholesterol, Slimming, Healthy Hair, Good for Diarrhea, Combat Respiratory Problems, Injury Recovery, Treatment of Ulcers, Fight Venereal Diseases, Fight against Bronchitis, Good for Estomacais Problems, Combat hair implant, Liver Health
West Indian elm or bay cedar scientifically known as Guazuma ulmifolia, is a medium-sized tree normally found in pastures and disturbed forests. This flowering plant from the family Malvaceae grows up to 30 m in height and 30–40 cm in diameter. The plant is native to Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, And Brazil. It is also found in Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, St Kitts And Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Virgin Islands serving a number of uses that differs from its value in carpentry to its utility in medicine.

Bastard Cedar, West Indian elm, Guasimo, Mutamba, mutambo, embira, embiru, guazima, guacima, guacimo, guasima de caballo, aquiche, ajya, guasima, cimarrona, guazuma, bolaina, atadijo, ibixuma, cambá-acã, bay cedar, bois d’homme, bois d’orme, bois de hetre, orme d’Amerique, Ajillá, Gunstock, Hay cedar, Jackocalaloo, Pricklenut, Bois De L’Orme, Bwa Dom, Cuaulote, Caulote, Contamal, Huásimo,  Mawo baba, Moena, Mutamba, Papayillo and Pixoy are some of the popular common names of the plant. The plant is synonymous with and formerly known as Theobroma guazuma. Specific epithet comes from the Latin words ulmus meaning elm and folia meaning leaf in reference to the elm-like leaves.

This species has high economic importance. Its wood is used as fuel wood and charcoal, and its leaves are used as fodder for livestock. Beverage prepared from crushed seeds soaked in water is used to treat ailments like diarrhea, dysentery, cold, cough and venereal disease. It is also used as a diuretic and astringent. Rope and twine are made from the tough, fibrous bark and young stems. In dry areas it is an important source of fodder for livestock, especially at the end of the dry season when there are no grasses. In many places farmers feed the leaves and fruits to cattle.

Plant Description

West Indian elm is a small to medium-sized tree with a spreading, rounded crown. It can grow 10 – 30 meters tall. The straight, cylindrical bole is 30 – 40 cm, occasionally to 60 cm in diameter. The plant is evergreen, except in areas with a long, dry season. The plant is found growing along stream banks and in pastures and in secondary forest. Young twigs are covered with rust-brown or light grey star shaped hairs. Bark is grey or grey-brown becoming furrowed and rough or slightly shaggy.

Leaves

Leaves are alternate in 2 rows in flattened arrangement, ovate to lance shaped, 6-13 cm long, 2.5-6 cm wide, long-pointed, finely saw-toothed, with 3 or sometimes 5 main veins from rounded or notched unequal-sided base, thin, nearly hairless or sometimes densely hairy. The leaf is dark green on the upper surface and light green-blue underneath and is rough (asperous) to the touch; at night hanging vertically. Leaf stalks are slender, 6-12 mm long, covered with tiny star-shaped hairs. There are three main leaf veins arising together from the leaf base, a characteristic of this family as well as several related families.

Flowers

The tree produces flower clusters (panicles) that are branched, 2.5-5 cm long, at the base of leaves. Flowers are many; short stalked, small, brownish-yellow, with 5 parts, about 1 cm long and half as broad, spreading, slightly fragrant. Calyx has 2-3 lobes, with rusty brown or light grey hairs, turned back, and then greenish; 5 yellow petals, each 2-forked; a yellowish stamen column with about 15 anthers surrounding the pistil, which has a hairy, light-green 5-celled ovary, style and 5 united stigmas. Normally the flowering takes place from April to October.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by round to elliptical capsules, very warty, hard, purplish black, 1.2-4 cm long and 1.2-2.5 cm wide, 5- celled, opening at tip or irregularly by pores containing numerous seeds. Seeds are egg-shaped and 3 mm long, grey.

Worldwide Ethno medical Uses of West Indian elm

Country Uses
Belize For childbirth, diarrhea, dysentery, infections, prostate problems, rashes, skin, uterine problems, sores
Brazil For asthma, blood cleansing, bronchitis, coughs, dysentery, excessive mucous, fever, hair loss, hepatitis, liver problems, parasites (head), pneumonia, skin diseases, syphilis, ulcers, and to increase perspiration
Colombia As a uterine stimulant
Cuba For bruises, burns, colds, flu, hemorrhoids, urinary insufficiency, wounds
Dominican

Republic

For dysentery, fertility (veterinary), lung problems, and to increase perspiration
Guatemala For bruises, dermatitis, erysipelas, fevers, gonorrhea, kidney diseases, skin disorders (irritation, eruptions, inflammation, sores, ulcers), stomachache, stomach inflammation, wounds, and to increase perspiration
Haiti For blood cleansing, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive sluggishness, fever, flu, fractures, scurvy, skin problems, wounds
Jamaica For diarrhea, elephantiasis, leprosy, malaria
Mexico For asthma, chest problems, childbirth, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, elephantiasis, fever, gastrointestinal problems, hemorrhages, infectious diseases, kidney problems, leprosy, malaria, rashes, skin problems, syphilis, uterine pain, wounds
Peru For diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, bronchitis, dermatitis, elephantiasis, fever, hair loss, hepatitis, kidney disease, leprosy, liver disease, lung problems, malaria, syphilis
Venezuela For syphilis, wounds, and to increase perspiration and lower body temperature
Elsewhere For asthma, bleeding, bronchitis, chest problems, elephantiasis, hair loss, hypertension, kidney disorders, liver problems, obesity, skin problems, stomachaches, and to increase perspiration

 

Ethno medical Information on West Indian elm

Plant Part Place Documented Ethnic Use Type Extract Route Used for
Bark Belize
  • Used for skin sores, infections and rashes.
  • Used for dysentery and diarrhea, prostate problems and as a uterine stimulant to aid childbirth.
  • Decoction
  • Decoction
  • External
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Brazil
  • Used as a diaphoretic for fevers. Used for coughs, bronchitis, ulcers, asthma, pneumonia and liver problems
  • Hot H2O Ext
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Bark Brazil
  • · Used to treat alopecia and head parasites.
  • · Used to treat skin afflictions.
  • · Used as a depurative, anti-syphilitic, pectoral, and anti-blennorrhagic.
  • Decoction
  • Decoction 
  • Decoction
  • External
  • External
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Dominican Republic
  • Used as a diaphoretic and to treat dysentery, fertility (veterinary), and lung problems.
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  •  Human / Animal Oral
Bark Colombia
  • Used to stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Hot H2O Ext
  •  Oral
  •  Human (Pregnant)
Bark Cuba
  • Used for an astringent, diuretic, and emollient; to treat bruises, burns, flu, grippe, hemorrhoids, wounds
  • Decoction
  • Oral & External
  • Human Adult
Bark Guatemala
  • Used for gonorrhea.
  • Used for stomach inflammation and stomachaches.
  • Infusion
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Haiti
  • Used for flu and diarrhea.
  • Used for fractures.
  • Decoction
  • Bark
  • Oral
  • External
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Jamaica
  • Used for leprosy
  • Used for elephantiasis.
  • Used to treat diarrhea.
  • Used for malaria.
  • Hot H2O Ext
  • Hot H2O Ext
  • Infusion
  • Hot H2O Ext
  • Oral
  • Oral
  • Oral
  • Oral

 

  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Panama
  • Used to treat hypertension.
  • Infusion
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Bark Peru
  • Used for leprosy, alopecia, and dermatosis.
  • Used for liver disease, kidney disease and dysentery.
  • Decoction
  • Decoction
  • External
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark Peru

 

 

 

  • Used for, asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery, elephantiasis, fever, hepatitis, malaria, nephritis, pulmonosis, and syphilis.
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Bark Mexico
  • Used for wounds and rashes.
  • Used for gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea, dysentery, childbirth, asthma, and fever
  • Decoction
  • Decoction
  • External
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Bark + Fruit Mexico
  • Used to treat diarrhea, hemorrhage and uterine pain
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Bark+ Leaf Mexico
  • Used for constipation and kidney disorders
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Fruit Haiti
  • Used for diarrhea.
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Fruit Mexico
  • Used to treat infectious diseases.
  • Infusion
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Leaf Guatemala
  • Used as a febrifuge, sudorific and to treat kidney disease.
  • Used for skin diseases, irritations, eruptions and inflammation, dermatitis, erysipelas, wounds, ulcers, bruises and sores.
  • Hot H2O Ext
  • Hot H2O Ext 
  • Oral
  • External
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Leaf Haiti
  • Used for flu and cough.
  • Used for diabetes.
  • Decoction
  • Decoction

 

  • Oral
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
  • Human Adult
Leaf Peru
  • Used for liver disease, kidney disease and dysentery
  • Decoction
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Leaf Mexico
  • Used for Asthma
  • H2O Ext
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Entire Plant Mexico
  • Used medicinally for “magical” illnesses comprising a variety of physiological illnesses and symptoms. Use is most likely based on magic or superstition.
  • H2O Ext
  • Oral
  • Human Adult
Root Mexico
  • Used for Childbirth
  • H2O Ext
  • Oral
  • Human (Pregnant)
Stem bark Mexico
  • Used for Diarrhea
  • Infusion
  • Oral
  • Human Adult

 

Different parts of plant and its uses

Bark: Asthma, bruises, burns, alopecia, constipation, bronchitis, dermatitis, dermatitis, coughs, diarrhea, dysentery, fevers, childbirth, fractures, gastrointestinal pain, elephantiasis, gonorrhea, grippe, hypertension, infections, hemorrhoids, hemorrhage, influenza, leprosy, liver problems, malaria, nephritis, kidney problems, pneumonia, prostate problems, pulmonosis, skin conditions, stomach inflammation, stomach ache, syphilis, ulcers, uterine pain, wounds.

Fruit: Hemorrhage, infection, diarrhea, uterine pain.

Seed: Diarrhea, constipation, astringent, and in stomach troubles.

Leaves: Asthma, alopecia, bruises, skin diseases, dermatitis, ulcers, dysentery, erysipelas, fevers, inflammation, kidney diseases, liver diseases, skin eruptions, sores, wounds.

Root: Childbirth.

Stem bark: Diarrhea

Health benefits of West Indian elm

Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of using West Indian elm

1. Cholesterol

Take some dry West Indian elm leaves. Pour enough hot water, such as making tea. Strain before drinking. In order not to bland, add one tablespoon of honey or sugar.

2. Slimming

Take 7 fresh leaves of West Indian elm and wash them. Add a piece of rhizome bangle, ginger, turmeric or white. Boil one-half cup water until remaining one glass. Once cool, strain and drink it. Mixes should be concurrent with white ginger or turmeric to reduce the effects of gastric irritation.

3. Healthy Hair

It is often used in the manufacture of products such as shampoos, conditioners and creams that prevent hair loss, dandruff and seborrhea. The ingredient still treats oiliness, moisturizes the hair and combat baldness.

4. Good for Diarrhea

The astringent properties from this plant help in the balance of the intestinal flora, often affected by the action of bacteria, viruses, or parasites that cause diarrhea and dehydration.

5. Combat Respiratory Problems

Tea provides outstanding results to treat respiratory problems such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and asthma. The substances contained in the plant contribute to clear the airway, promoting the removal of the viruses and bacteria causing these diseases.

6. Injury Recovery

The tonic properties and analgesic effects of this plant helps relieve the aches and pains caused by bruises, preferring the recovery of the body in less time.

7. Treatment of Ulcers

The consumption of West Indian elm tea is related with the decrease of the symptoms of ulcers, favoring the digestion and avoiding episodes of intoxication.

8. Fight Venereal Diseases

West Indian elm plays an important role for the treatment of venereal diseases such as syphilis.

9. Fight against Bronchitis

West Indian elm tea is helpful in the treatment of various respiratory diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, and coughs. The drink also helps to relieve symptoms of fever as well.

10. Good for Estomacais Problems

Drink made from its crushed seeds with water is also great to treat stomach problems, diarrhea, ulcer, flu, colds, venereal diseases, and bruises, and is a great diuretic natural.

11. Combat hair implant

This is undoubtedly one of the amazing benefits of West Indian elm. It is an ingredient used in products that seek to deal with problems such as baldness or thinning of hair. The properties present in the plant help to stimulate the hair to grow strong and healthy.

12. Liver Health

Tea made from the bark of the West Indian elm has properties, wound healing, astringent, antiseptic, and stimulates the production of sweat and is great to clear the liver.

Traditional uses and benefits of West Indian elm

  • Plant is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antitussive, antiviral, astringent, blood purifier, cardiac, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hemostatic, hypotensive, and oxytocic, vulnerary.
  • Bark also consists of a chemical called kaurenoic acid which has been recognized with antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Plant lowers heart rate and blood pressure, relaxes smooth muscles and stimulates the uterus.
  • Various research using leaf and bark extracts have clinically proven remarkable antibacterial activity against several disease-causing pathogens, including Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E. coli, and Neisseria gonorrhea.
  • Applied externally, it is used to bathe wounds, rashes and sores; to treat skin problems, including dermatosis, elephantiasis and leprosy; it is applied to the scalp to arrest hair loss and combat parasites of the scalp.
  • The fruit (in Mauritius), the roasted seeds (in Java), and the bark (in India) are officinal remedies against elephantiasis.
  • An infusion of the crushed, seed soaked in water, is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, colds, coughs and venereal diseases.
  • The Mixe Indians in the lowlands of Mexico use a decoction of dried bark and fruit to treat diarrhea, hemorrhages and uterine pain.
  • The Huastec Mayans of northeastern Mexico use the fresh bark boiled in water to aid in childbirth, for gastrointestinal pain, asthma, diarrhea and dysentery, wounds, and fevers.
  • Mayan healers in Guatemala boil the bark into a decoction to treat stomach inflammation and regular stomachaches.
  • Indigenous people have long used West Indian elm for asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, kidney problems, and syphilis in Amazon.
  • They use a bark decoction topically for baldness, leprosy, dematosis and other skin conditions.
  • In Brazilian herbal medicine practices, a bark decoction is used to promote perspiration, cleanse and detoxify the blood, and to suppress coughs.
  • Bark decoction is also prepared and is used topically to promote hair growth, to combat parasites of the scalp, and to treat various skin conditions.
  • Dried bark and/or dried leaves are made into tea (standard infusion) and used for kidney disease, liver disease, and dysentery in Peru.
  • Dried leaves of the tree are brewed into a tea and drunk for fevers, kidney disease, and skin diseases, as well as used externally for wounds, sores, bruises, dermatitis, skin eruptions and irritations, and erysipelas in Guatemala.
  • Fruit is used as a cure whooping cough.
  • Decoction of the seeds that have been burned like a coffee can be drunk as cure for constipation.
  • Bark is used to induce perspiration, as a tonic and a blood cleanser, and is used to treat a wide range of disorders including, digestive tract problems such as kidney problems, uterine pain, venereal disease and as an aid to childbirth, respiratory tract problems such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs and pneumonia, fever and hemorrhages.
  • Beverage of crushed seeds soaked in water is astringent and diuretic in nature which is also used to treat cold, cough, contusions, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, venereal disease and in various stomach troubles.
  • It cures Anorexia, Bronchitis, gonorrhea, leprosy, asthma, high blood pressure, syphilis, baldness and indigestion.

Other facts

  • Timber is used for posts, general carpentry, interior construction, furniture, barrel stave, boxes, crates, tool handles, gun-stocks and firewood and charcoal.
  • It is an important source of livestock fodder in many areas, particularly during the dry season when pasture grasses are unavailable.
  • It is fast-growing, tolerant of full sunlight and provides food for the native fauna.
  • Tough, fibrous bark and young stems are used to make rope and twine.
  • Mucilaginous sap is used sometimes in sugar fabrication to clarify syrup.
  • Heartwood is pinkish to brownish; it is not clearly demarcated from the light brown sapwood.
  • Fibrous wood is light in weight; it is not durable, It is used for posts, interior carpentry, light construction, furniture, boxes and crates, shoe horns, tool handles etc.
  • The tree can be used for fuel and to make charcoal.
  • The charcoal is of high quality.

Precautions

  • West Indian elm bark has been documented in several animal studies to have uterine stimulant activity and it should not be taken during pregnancy.
  • People with a history of heart problems, those taking heart medications, or those with low blood pressure should not use this plant without supervision and advice of a qualified health care practitioner.
  • The plant should be taken internally only in moderation, as large doses can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=21546#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=312760

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Guazuma+ulmifolia

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=287260&isprofile=0&

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=GUUL

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8ae2/a1d8648692c44c2eefe6f98c402d628ca7a5.pdf

http://www.nzdl.org/gsdlmod?e=d-00000-00—off-0hdl–00-0—-0-10-0—0—0direct-10—4——-0-1l–11-en-50—20-about—00-0-1-00-0–4—-0-0-11-10-0utfZz-8-10&cl=CL2.14.7&d=HASH011ec19a37bb817d72319187.31&gt=2

https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Guazuma_ulmifolia

http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Guazuma+ulmifolia

https://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/264307

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/West%20Indian%20Elm.html

https://sl.ku.dk/rapporter/seed-leaflets/filer/guazuma-ulmifolia-16.pdf

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/GUZUL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guazuma_ulmifolia

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f87a/98afee41739efc41d172d1c6bff022f3b357.pdf

https://italisvital.info/cablote-cualote/

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2834705

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/26124

http://old.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Guazuma_ulmifolia.PDF

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/154538-Guazuma-ulmifolia

http://www.rain-tree.com/reports/mutamba-tech.pdf

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