Canna indica L.

Nota de alcance (en)

According to BRi.kHER (1989), the species is of South American origin. Briicher assumes that domestication occurred in the subtropical eastern valleys of the Andean Cordillera, as he observed wildgrowing samples in the north of Argentina and in Bolivia. Very old prehistoric finds were made along mthe coastline of Peru. The species was certainly known to the Incas and has its origin in Peru and Colombia (BERNAL & CORREA 1990). It has been in use for at least 2500 years.

Historical background
For prehistoric studies see UGENT & POZORSKI (1984) and GADE (1966) cited by BRUCHER (1989), VELEZ & VELEZ (1990), UGENT, POZORSKI & POZORSKI (1986), BERNAL & CORRE (1990) and the bibliogrphy cited there.

According to STEYERMARK & HUBER (1978), the species is found in Venezuela in gallery and cloud forrests, usually in humid gorges and at a height between 950 and 1600 m.

Medical use
The name of the drug is Canna indica L. radix, caule, folia.

Leaf The leaves in decoction are used in Brazil to cleanse ulcers and in the form of vapour they are used against rheumatism. Fresh or slightly toasted (dried in the sun) leaves put on the breasts ofwomen who have had their first baby prevent the exhaustion of the milk flux. Leaves in decoction are put on wounds as an antiseptic which at the same time promotes cicatrization. A decoction of the leaves is diuretic and antiabortive. Stipe. The natives of Colombia, Cuna, prepare with 4 pieces of the stipe an infusion which is applied as a complete bath; this helps to recover from sicknesses and to regain high spirits. Rhizome. The rhizome is applied as an emollient cataplasm and as a diuretic when given in decoction. The dried and cut rhizome boiled for 15 minutes and applied in a dose of 30 g/1 of water relieves pain at the onset of menstruation; it also helps as a demulcent and prevents infections of the kidney and the bladder. The starch is said to have a sedative effect; it is furthermore easy to digest. The inhabitants of Samoa treat inflammations with Canna. The rhizomes which have a slightly aromatic flavour, originating from the secretion in the secretory canals, combat fever and oedema. The decoction of leaves and rhizomes has diuretic and antigonorrhoeic properties.

Method of use
Leaves, stipes and rhizomes are used fresh, in decoction, in powder form or as a cataplasm. To prepare the decoction for the emollient cataplasm, a spoonful of the rhizome is diluted in 2 cups of water forming a viscous fluid. When taken internally, the dried and cut rhizome is boiled for 15 minutes and applied in a dose of 30 g/1. The decoction for diuretic purposes is prepared with a handful of the rhizome and 11 of water; this mixture is boiled and 3 cups of the drink are taken a day. The same decoction also helps against painful menstruation and strengthens its flow. In the last cases, 3 cups of the liquid are taken dayly a week before menstruation begins.

Healing properties
Canna indica has diuretic and emmenagogic properties as well as an antiseptic and calmative effect.

Chemical contents
Of all the chemical contents of Canna, it is the starch that has been mainly studied. Among other components, amylose and amylopectin, flavonoids, carotenes, xanthophylls, maltose, sucrose, fructose and glucose, as well as L-arabinose, have been found. Although Canna is a very well known plant from time immemorial, the content of the secretory canals has not yet been studied separately; this content is probably responsible for the special medicinal properties of the plant.


Root: Diuretic. Juice from roots is used for treating venereal disease, by the Guyana Patamona.

Rhizome: Infusion for a stimulant and febrifuge. Decoction for a diaphoretic and diuretic. Made into an emollient cataplasm.

Leaf: Leaves are boiled, and the water used as a diuretic, by the Guyana Patamona.

Leaf and Seed: Leaves and powdered seeds are mixed, and used to treat dermatoses, by the Guyana Patamona.

Seed: In Surinam, seeds are mixed with water in a poultice which is placed on the forehead to remedy headache. Seeds are ground into a powder, and used as an anti-infective agent or as a treatment for persistent sores and “bush yaws”, by the Guyana Patamona. Seeds are crushed into a powder and used for treating itching, by the Guyana Patamona.

Nota de alcance

Cultivada como ornamental. Amazonas, Cuzco, Huánuco, Junín, La
Libertad, Loreto, San Martín.


Mastitis: el tallo envuelto en una hoja de plátano se calienta al fuego; aún tibio, se exprime el jugo sobre la zona afectada.

Tos seca: tomar una cucharadita del jugo de los tallos frescos.

Infecciones de la piel: colocar las hojas cocinadas sobre la parte donde hay comezón.

Cefaleas: se estrujan las hojas y se sujetan a la cabeza con una tela.

Reumatismo: se hierven las hojas, recibiendo el vapor sobre la zona afectada.

Úlceras: se hierven las hojas y con el líquido se lavan las úlceras de la piel. Raíz Antigonorreico y diurético: tomar la decocción de las raíces y hojas.

Nota bibliográfica (en)

1) Robertt, A., et al.. Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana)/Smithsonian NMNH. cited online: 17-08-2017.

2) Mejía, Kember; Rengifo, Eisa /Plantas medicinales de uso popular en la Amazonía Peruana.-- Lima : Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, 2000. -- p. 286

3) DeFilipps, Robert A.; Krupnick, Gary A. / PhytoKeys, v. 102. - - p. 1 - 314,  2018.

Canna indica L.
Término aceptado: 21-Dic-2016