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What Are the Medical Uses of Pithecellobium Dulce?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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There are a number of potential medical uses of Pithecellobium dulce. Commonly called the Manila tamarind, this tree is native to Central and South America, where it has been used as a treatment for a variety of disorders for many centuries. Though it is not commonly used for its medical properties today, Pithecellobium dulce has some enzymes that may give it antimicrobial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties. The bark and leaves of this plant, which are used in herbal preparations, are slightly toxic and should not be taken without the guidance of a doctor.

In folk medicine, the bark of the Pithecellobium dulce tree is mashed and made into a tea in order to treat a number of different conditions. Loose stool or diarrhea of unknown origins may be treated with this herbal remedy. Patients with dysentery may also be given this tea as a treatment, as may patients with infections of the eyes or on the skin. Though traditional healers in regions where this plant is native may still use these treatments, they have not been tested to determine how effective they are, and patients with serious conditions, such as dysentery, should seek the advice of a doctor before attempting treatment with this plant.

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The leaves of Pithecellobium dulce can also be used to treat certain conditions. The astringent and anti-inflammatory effects of the leaves have led to their use as a treatment for both open and closed wounds. In order to use the leaves for this purpose, they must be crushed and spread over the affected area, where they are said to relieve pain and promote healing. Genital herpes has been treated with a compress made from the leaves of this tree, and though they may help with a current outbreak, they will not kill the virus responsible for this disease.

A toxin in the leaves of Pithecellobium dulce has led them to be used to induce abortions. Despite its use for this purpose in folk medicine, there is no published medical research to support claims that Pithecellobium dulce can be used for this purpose. Pregnant women who consume the leaves of this tree, however, may experience unintended medical consequences including serious illness.

In some parts of the world, the roots of this tree are also used in medicinal preparations. Traditional healers in some parts of South America may use a preparation of the roots to reduce fever or to combat dysentery. The roots of Pithecellobium dulce are used infrequently and it is not known how effective treatments with these parts of the tree may be.

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