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Native to the Andes Mountains of Chile, boldo is a tree used as a home herbal remedy. Taken as an antiseptic and tonic for many different conditions, boldo is known for its strong, camphor-like aroma. The tree is also used for culinary purposes.
Boldo is also known as peumus boldus, boldu boldus lyons, boldus fragrans, and boldea fragrans. Also grown in North Africa, Europe, and Latin America, the evergreen features leathery leaves that are two inches (5 centimeters) in length, and small spheres of fruit. In Spain and Latin America, boldo leaves and bark are a popular herbal medicine.
Some of the tree's uses include supporting the gallbladder, curing hangovers, and soothing upset stomach. An anti-inflammatory agent, boldo may also be used to treat gonorrhea, rheumatism, liver pain, dyspepsia, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, colon problems, obesity, and genital inflammation. It was also the original treatment for malaria and internal parasites such as worms, though these uses have since been replaced with more effective, less dangerous remedies.
A dieuretic, boldo stimulates bile production. It can also increase the secretion of gastric juices and uric acid. Because of its mild narcotic properties, boldo is also a restricted substance in certain areas. Used with other herbs, such as gentian, cascara, and rhubarb, boldo may help improve appetite. The plant may also be a suitable alternative to some other drugs, such as amoxycillin, ofloxacin, penicillin, ciprofloxacin, or other antibiotics.
Herbal teas can be made from boldo. People in Paraguay, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay use it in their yerba mate tea, and often keep a boldo tree for this reason. The tree also bears nutritious, sweet fruits. Small and round, these yellow or green boldo fruits appear during a narrow winter period. Boldo is also used for charcoal production.
Pregnant and nursing women should avoid this herbal remedy. The treatment is not recommended for people with kidney disease, as it can cause irritation in severe cases. People with liver obstructions and severe liver disease should refrain from using the homeopathy remedy as well. Long-term use of the product for more than three to four continuous weeks is also inadvisable.
Essential oil made from the tree should be handled with care, as even low doses have the potential to induce bodily convulsions, ear ringing, or a coma. Because of its strong unpleasant scent, boldo is not recommended for aromatherapy use. A physician should be consulted prior to use.