With an abundance of rich flora and fauna, South America is one of the most bio-diverse continents in the world. From the dizzy heights of the Andes mountain range to the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, South America is home to some of the most powerful healing herbs on the planet.
Evolved to suit every type of terrain and climate, South American herbs have many wide and varied uses. The indigenous peoples and tribal shamans demonstrated pharmacological genius way before the advent of modern science, with their deep knowledge and understanding of these precious plants.
Nowadays we can test for certain phytonutrients to try and work out what makes these herbs so effective. However, it seems that Mother Nature knows best, imparting both the physical and energetic properties of her plants to bring about holistic healing. Scientists and medical researchers have tried to isolate the certain compounds thought to be responsible the specific action of a herb, and many times they have failed to replicate the effects of the full spectrum herb.
Recognising the potency and many benefits of full spectrum plant medicine, Indigo Herbs have procured some of the finest South American herbs from sustainable farming practices that are committed to having a minimum impact on the environment.
In this article we would like to showcase our four most recent additions to our collection of South American herbs.
The Spanish name for this herb is “Chanca Piedra” which literally translates as “shatter stone” or “stone breaker”, alluding to its traditional use to support the elimination of kidney and gallstones.
This elegant, slender stemmed herb grows abundantly in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical parts of the world. It has been traditionally used for millennia to support the healthy functioning of the kidneys and gallbladder, most famously to rid the body of kidney and gallstones.
Quebra Pedra contains powerful plant alkaloids that impede the clumping together of calcium oxalate crystals, the most common cause of kidney stones. Consuming this herb can be an excellent preventative measure for those who are susceptible to this painful condition.
As a natural diuretic, Quebra Pedra not only increases the flow of urine, it also helps the rid the body of excess sodium and creatine. Evidence suggests that creatine can contribute to kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
The same alkaloids that help to prevent the clumping together of mineral crystals also promote relaxation of the smooth muscle in the urinary and biliary tracts, making the task of eliminating existing stones much less painful.
Although the literal translation of Chanca Piedra is “stone breaker”, it effectively softens both kidney stones and gallstones for easy passage out of the body.
Quebra Pedra also protects the liver, promotes healthy digestion and has anti-fungicidal and anti-viral properties.
Also known as soursop, graviola is a delicious, tangy fruit that has been used as a nutritious and medicinal food by the indigenous people for centuries. The taste is a delectable combination of strawberry and pineapple with a citrus tang, making it a highly desirable fruit to eat.
Much of the graviola tree is utilised in traditional medicine, for example the leaves are used to make a calming tea that also works as a pain reliever. The sap of the leaves is applied topically to promote the fast healing of wounds and provide relief from skin conditions such as eczema. Contemporary herbalists recommend the fruit and the leaves of the graviola tree to combat pain, break a fever, kill parasites and relieve respiratory problems.
Graviola has a long history of use as a potent immune booster. As well as the fruit containing high amounts of immune boosting vitamin C, the leaves of graviola are packed with immune boosting phytonutrients. The active ingredients in graviola leaf are kaempferol, rutinoside and quercetin-3-O-rutinoside. A 2016 research article published in "Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine" reported that, “bioactive properties of graviola indicate its potential as a health-promoting ingredient to boost the immune system.”
Graviola is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb, making it a fantastic addition to your herbal apothecary.
Chuchuhuasi has been known to the curanderos (healers) of South America for thousands of years for its healing properties as a pain reliever, digestive aid and a general tonic for overall wellbeing.
Literally translating as “trembling back” due to its effectiveness as a remedy for back pain, arthritis and rheumatism, Chuchuasi bark is rich in several alkaloids, tannins, triterpenes and sesquiterpenes. These powerful plant compounds act as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants, helping to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Chuchuhuasi also has a long history of traditional use as an aphrodisiac. To this day, many Amazonian people drink a shot of Chuchuhuasi tonic each morning to promote stamina, sexual function and the libido.
Amongst the many aphrodisiac herbs of South America, Clavohuasca both figuratively and physically towers above them all! This huge and sprawling Amazonian vine is known to reach up to 80 metres in height, providing the indigenous people with an abundance of plant material to harvest.
As an aphrodisiac, Clavohuasca is used to create passion and potency for both men and women. In traditional folk medicine it is also used as a remedy for frigidity and erectile dysfunction. It is thought that Clavohuasca's libido enhancing effects may be partly involved with the neurotransmitters responsible for the smooth muscle relaxation of the "corpus cavernosum" - either of two masses of erectile tissue forming the bulk of the penis and the clitoris.
Although most famous for its aphrodisiac qualities, Clavohuasca is also used to relieve pain and as a digestive tonic.
We hope you will enjoy the healing benefits of these fabulous additions to our “Herbal Apothecary”!
4,000 Years of Medicine
2000 BC: Here, eat this root
1000 AD: That root is heathen! Here, say this prayer
1865 AD: That prayer is superstition! Here, drink this potion
1935 AD: That potion is snake oil! Here, take this antibiotic
2020 AD: That antibiotic is poison! Here, eat this root