Bursera simarouba (L.) SARG

Nota de alcance (en)

The 'naked indian' (indio desnudo) is a small tree of 8-20 min height with imparipinnate leaves having 3-13 leaflets. The oblong -ovate leaflets reach a length of 6-10 em. The small whitish flowers are arranged in panicles. Male and hermaphrodite flowers occur. The fruit is a drupe with a red exocarp which opens with 3 valves. Very characteristic is the smooth red-brown bark which resemblesthe skin of a naked Indian.

Origin and occurence

The tree is found in Florida, Mexico, Central America, the West-Indies and in tropical continental America. In Venezuela it is common in xerophilous forests of the so-called 'tierra caliente' (thorny woodland); however its range of occurence is very ample.

Ethnobotanical and general use

Nutritional use

The leaves are used as a tea.

Economical utilization

The wood is used as firewood. It is also used for fabrication of matches and for cabinet work. Cuttings are used for fences.

The resin is not only used as an incense, but also as an insecticide. It has a semll of turpentine. The gumresin even serves to glue together broken china, ceramic and glass; boats are impregnated with resin to avoid destruction by termites. The main source of resin is in the bark which peels off easily in the form of delicate streaks, although the entire plant is supplied with resin. The resin called elemi, elqueme or tacamahaca, is used also in varnishes and as a substitute of Arabic gum.

Medical use

Name of the drug: Cortex, folia, caule, fructus, semen. But also flowers and roots have medical applications. The twigs in decoction are good for the liver and the thyroid gland, but also aid to weight loss; 1-2 cups a day are sufficient.

Wood is likewise resinous and an infusion is sudorific, antirheumatic and heals ulcers.

Flowers in infusion cure diarrhoea. The sap of the plant is applied on infected wounds; it is also taken by persons who suffer from haematuria and intestinal heamorrhage. The sap is antiinflammatory and antidiarrhoeic; it furthermore helps to treat spider bites.

The fruit is applied for diarrhoea.

The seeds cure snake bites.

The leaves are diuretic, purgative, antiveneral and antirheumatic. A tea of the leaves cures amygdalitis, asthma, inflammations of the gums, and of the knee; a cataplasm helps against gangrene and obesity, and accelerates delivery in birth; a tea of the leaves may also be applied. Leaves, bark and root together are used for diarrhoea, flu, hypertension and for the kidneys. They are equally used as a stomach tonic, a diuretic, a purgative, an antispasmodic, and a sudorific.

The bark. also has many applications. It is used to cure wounds, stomach disorders, gastrointestinal pain, fever, nosebleed, measles, and as a depilatory. Particularly fresh bark is applied on burns. A decoction of the bark applied to the body 3 times a day causes peeling of the skin. The same decoction is taken internally for cancer of the stomach. A decoction taken orally is applied for gastric ulcer; half a cup is taken twice a day for 9 days; it is taken before breakfast and in the afternoon. It can also be used for indigestion, as a fungicide and for insect bites. A bath taken in the decoction is good for the skin. Wounds are likewise cleaned with it to accelerate cicatrization.For diarrhoea, the bark is crushed and soaked in water over night; the water is taken during theday. A decoction is also taken orally for intermittent fever. The resin cures infected wounds, abscesses, inflamed ganglia, ulcers, venereal diseases, diarrhoea, intermittent fever, rheumatism, gastric haemorrhages, ulcer, diarrhoea; it is even used in the extraction of spines and thorns. In the form of cataplasm it is used for gangrene. It is put on the navel of new born children.

The resin ash put on wounds inhibits inflammations. According to UPHOF (1968), the resin is furthermore applied for oedema, dysentery and yellow fever. The resin is aromatic and smells of turpentine.

Healing properties

Extracts of the aerial parts of the plant are aromatic, diaphoretic, spasmolytic, vasodilatory, fungicidal, molluscidial, and act as a stimulant on the smooth muscular system (duodenum). Particularly the axial plant organs have fungicidal effects. The dry bark shows molluscicidal activities.Cytotoxic activity is ascribed to dry fruits. Leaves and axial organs show relaxing effects on the smooth muscular system as well as spasmolytic and vasodilatory activities. A triterpene has antitumoral activities in certain types of cancer.

Nota bibliográfica (en)

South American medicinal plants : botany, remedial properties, and general use / I. Roth, H. Lindorf. Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2002. -- p. 492.

Bursera simarouba (L.) SARG
Término aceptado: 20-Dic-2016