Pata de Vaca Benefits

Pata de Vaca
Latin Name

Bauhinia forficata

Also Known As

Orchid Tree, Casco de Vaca, Mororó, Pata de Boi, Unha de Boi, Unha de Vaca.


South America, Asia

Parts Used


Traditional Use and Health Benefits

The name Pata de Vaca literally translates as “cow’s foot” due the striking resemblance of the leaves to this part of a cow’s anatomy. It is native to the rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay and some parts of Asia where it has a long history of service to the indigenous tribes.

Whilst the traditional uses of this herb are not well documented, there are accounts of it having been used for diarrhoea, a diuretic and astringent. However in the last 60 years it has been extensively used in Brazilian Herbal Medicine to balance blood sugar in diabetics and to alleviate other symptoms of diabetes including renal disorders and urinary problems.

Pata De Vaca Benefits


The hypoglycaemic activity of Pata De Vaca was reported in 1929, and subsequent studies have found that it does indeed exert hypoglycaemic (lowering blood sugar) effects in both animal and human models. In fact it is so effective at balancing blood sugar levels that some herbalists now call it “vegetable insulin”.

Research scientists in Brazil reported in 2004 that the phytochemical “kaempferitrin”, found in the leaves of Pata De Vaca, significantly lowered blood sugar levels in diabetic rats, as did the whole plant. They also documented its antioxidant effect.

Another recent study, in search of the active principle of the leaves of Pata De Vaca, found the presence of insulin like molecules. Interestingly, a protein was found that has a partial amino acid sequence identical to that of bovine insulin, concluding that this protein may be responsible for the lowering of blood glucose concentrations. Pata de Vaca continues to be a popular natural medicine in South America for diabetes and clinical research there supports its use.

Kidney Health

Preliminary studies indicate that Pata De Vaca may help to relieve and prevent the formation of kidney stones. Additionally, the aforementioned flavonoid kaempferitrin has been reported to help repair kidney cell damage, and to have a diuretic effect. It is thought that Pata De Vaca helps to heal the kidney by increasing urination, which in turns cleanses the body. However, this has not been scientifically investigated yet and more research is needed.

Typical Use

Pata de Vaca is traditionally used as a herbal tea and is often taken together with Pedra Hume Caa.

Folklore and History

In his book, "Cura com Yoga e Plantas Medicinais", Chiang Sing recounts the experience of one Friar Luiz Maria, a diabetic priest. In the early 1950's, Friar Luiz Maria heard about a plant that could cure the symptoms of diabetes, so he travelled to Campo Grande in search of a doctor named Christophe who made preparations from this plant. Dr. Christophe himself had learned about this plant from the Indians and local farmers. The Friar met with Dr. Christophe, took the extract made from Pata de Vaca, and in 40 days he was reportedly in fine condition. 

Pata de Vaca

The main plant chemicals in Pata de Vaca include; astragalin, bauhinoside, beta-sitosterol, flavonols, flavonoids, glycosides, guanidine, heteroglycosides, kaempferitrin, organic acids, quercitrosides, rhamnose, and saponins.


If you are taking diabetic medication please consult your healthcare practitioner before using Pata de Vaca.

Will potentiate anti-diabetic medications and insulin drugs.

Not recommended if you are hypoglycaemic.

Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.