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Juazeiro
(Ziziphus joazeiro)

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  • Family: Rhamnaceae
    Genus: Ziziphus
    Species: joazeiro
    Synonyms: Zizyphus joazeiro, Ziziphus guaranitica, Ziziphus gardneri Common Names: Joazeiro, juazeiro, raspa-de-jua, joá, juá, injuá, laranjinha-de-vaqueiro
    Parts Used: Bark, Leaves


    From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

    JUAZEIRO
    HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
    Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • reduces fever
  • heals wounds
  • Bark
  • kills bacteria
  • dries secretions
  • Decoction: 1/2 cup 2-3
  • prevents cavities
  • increases urination
  • times daily
  • supresses coughs
  • supports heart
  • Tincture: Applied topically
  • supports liver
  •    

    Juazeiro is a shrubby tree indigenous to the dry scrub-land areas called caatingas in the northeast of Brazil. It grows 5-10 meters in height with a trunk that is 30-50 cm in diameter. It produces waxy leaves, small yellow flowers, and small, yellow, round, edible fruits (about 3-4 cm in size) that are favored by birds (especially parrots). Juazeiro is highly resistant to the seasonal droughts of the northeast, grows very slowly and is very long lived; 100 year old specimens have been recorded. The tree is also native to the caatingas of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. In South America the genus is referred to as Zizyphus; in North America it is classified as Ziziphus. It is a genus of about 100 species of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Interestingly, no matter where they are found; most all Ziziphus species on every continent are used in traditional medicine systems where they grow. The genus in general, is recognized with potential pharmacological actions by scientists worldwide.

    TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES

    Juazeiro is one of the most respected trees in Brazil due to its numerous uses. The leaves and young branches are used as a high protein animal fodder (especially during severe droughts when not much else is available); the fruit is edible and sometimes turned into wine, the bark and leaves are used medicinally; and the wood is very durable and used for making furniture, farm implements, artistic wood carvings, and charcoal.

    In Brazilian herbal medicine the bark is decocted and used for liver complaints, headaches, dry coughs, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, sore throats, urogenital disorders, and as a heart tonic. A bark decoction is also widely known and used by rural people in Brazil for fevers of all kinds. The inner bark is made into a paste (or prepared as a standard infusion) to treat and prevent cavities and dental plaque. The bark is infused or macerated and used as a hair tonic and cleanser which reportedly treats and prevents dandruff and seborrhea. The bark is also prepared as a tincture and used externally for skin ulcers and other skin complaints. The leaves are prepared in an infusion and employed as a digestive aid for various complaints including dyspepsia, indigestion and gastric ulcers. The fruit juice (which is rich in vitamin C) is used topically on the skin and face to treat acne and to soften the skin.

    PLANT CHEMICALS

    A large variety of triterpene, saponin, and alkaloid chemicals have been identified in juazeiro. The bark contains a large amount of saponins with natural foaming properties which are responsible for the formation of lather and its high cleansing power. For this reason bark preparations have been used locally in shampoos and soaps. Juazeiro is a good source of a chemical called betulinic acid, as well as three novel ester derivatives of this acid which have only been found in juazeiro thus far.

    Betulinic acid has long been documented with moderate antibiotic activity, however, scientists discovered that the three ester derivatives demonstrated remarkable activity against bacteria. Betulinic acid has also demonstrated anticancerous activity in various clinical studies. Currently betulinic acid is undergoing preclinical development for the treatment and prevention of malignant melanoma. In one in vivo clinical study, mice grafted with human melanomas were administered belulinic acid and tumor growth was completely inhibited without toxicity. In other in vitro research betulinic acid inhibited cultured carcinoma of the mouth and human melanoma cell lines.

    The main plant chemicals in juazeiro include: alkaloids, amfibine D, betulinic acid, betulinic acid derivatives, jujubogenine, saponins, and triterpenes.

    BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH

    Although its mechanism is still unknown, scientists have verified juazeiro's main traditional use for fevers. In an in vivo study with rabbits, the oral administration of a bark infusion reduced fevers that had been induced by bacterial toxins. In Brazilian research, scientists have begun to validate its use for dental cavities; a bark decoction demonstrated strong activity against the common bacteria that forms dental plaque and cavities. In addition, a juazeiro leaf extract was shown to reduce inflammation, provide pain relief, promote healing and reduce secondary bacterial infections caused by guinea worms. Guinea worms are the largest of the tissue parasites (which live under the skin) that afflict humans in tropical countries.

    Main plant chemicals include alkaloids, amfibine D, betulinic acid, betulinic acid derivatives, jujubogenine, saponins, and triterpenes.

    CURRENT PRACTICAL USES

    In Brazil juazeiro is a popular natural remedy to bring down fevers rapidly, especially where fevers are related to colds, flu and upper respiratory infections. Natural health practitioners there administer it as a standard bark decoction. It is also a common ingredient in many natural body care products - in healing soaps for skin disorders, mouthwashes and toothpastes, skin care creams and lotions, hair tonics and dandruff shampoos. In the U.S., juazeiro and its uses are virtually unknown. As more major U.S. body and hair care manufacturers are launching more natural formulas and herbal formulas in their product lines, it should only be a matter of time before juazeiro is "discovered" here and a market is created for it. Not only is it a great natural foaming agent, it provides natural antibiotic and healing properties for the skin and hair.



    JUAZEIRO PLANT SUMMARY
    Main Preparation Method: Decoction, maceration or tincture

    Main Actions (in order):
    analgesic (pain-reliever), antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge (reduces fever), astringent

    Main Uses:

    1. as a topical wound-healer
    2. as a mouthwash for cavities, gingivitis, and tooth extractions
    3. for fevers (all kinds)
    4. as a topical hair remedy for dandruff, hair loss, and seborrhea
    5. for upper respiratory bacterial infections, coughs, and bronchitis
    Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
    analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, febrifuge (reduces fever), wound healer

    Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
    antiulcerous, astringent, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), cavity prevention, cough suppressant, digestive stimulant, diuretic, hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver)

    Cautions: none



    Traditional Preparation: In Brazil, juazeiro is prepared in different ways depending on what it is employed for. For fevers: 20 grams of dried bark is decocted in 1 liter of water and one-half cup amounts are taken 2-3 times daily. This decoction is also used to prevent cavities by using it as a mouth gargle. In addition, 30 grams of bark is left to soak in a liter of cold water for a day or two, this cold maceration is used as a hair tonic, a dandruff shampoo, and as a natural cleaning agent. The bark is prepared as a standard alcohol tincture to apply externally to wounds, ulcers and skin rashes.

    Contraindications: None known.

    Drug Interactions: None known.


    WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
    Brazil for bacterial infections, blood diseases, bronchitis, cavities, coughs, dandruff, diabetes, digestive disorders, debilitation, dental plaque, epilepsy, dysentery, dyspepsia, fevers, headache, heart support, jaundice, hair shampoo, intermittent fevers, liver problems, seborrhea, skin disorders, soap, sore throat, stomach ulcers, urogenital infections, water retention, weakness, and as an expectorant



    References:

    • Schühly, W., et al. “New triterpenoids with antibacterial activity from Zizyphus joazeiro.” Planta Med. 1999; 65(8): 740-3.
    • Schühly, W., et al., Novel triterpene saponins from Zizyphus joazeiro.” Helv. Chim. Acta 2000; 83: 1509-1516.
    • Pisha, E., et al. “Discovery of betulinic acid as a selective inhibitor of human melanoma that functions by induction of apoptosis.” Nat. Med. 1995; 1(10): 1046-51.
    • Kim, D. S., et al. “Synthesis of betulinic acid derivatives with activity against human melanoma.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 1998; 8(13): 1707-12.
    • Nunes, P. H., et al. “Antipyretic activity of an aqueous extract of Zizyphus joazeiro Mart. (Rhamnaceae).” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 1987; 20(5): 599-601.
    • Jesus, T. P. Cienc. Cult. 1983; 35(7): 82-3.
    • Fabiyi, J. P., et al. “Traditional therapy of dracunculiasis in the state of Bauchi - Nigeria.” Dakar Med. 1993; 38(2): 193-5.



    The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005
    All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.



    * The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.




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    Last updated 12-17-2012