Maytenus ilicifolia (Espinheira santa) 100g View larger

Maytenus ilicifolia (Espinheira santa) 100g


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Maytenus ilicifolia (Espinheira Santa) 100g

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R$ 26,11

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This is the perfect tea against Bloodpressure, works as a life-regenerating Tonikum, refreshes and works well for your health.
A MUST for everyone who is stressed. Take nature.




Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Maytenus
Species: ilicifolia
Synonyms: Celastrus ilicinus, Gymnosporia ilicina, Maytenus ilicina
Common Names: Espinheira santa, cancerosa, cangorosa, maiteno, limaosinho
Parts Used: Leaves

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
reduces acid relieves pain Leaves
prevents ulcers kills germs Decoction: 1 cup 2-3 times daily
aids digestion cleanses blood Capsules: 1-2 g 2-3 times daily
kills cancer cells increases urination  
kills leukemia cells mildly laxative  
inhibits tumors promotes menstruation  
detoxifies reduces fertility  



WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES Argentina for abortions, asthma, antiseptic, cancer, diarrhea, increasing saliva, menstrual difficulties, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, wounds, and as an antiseptic Brazil for asthma, bile disorders, cancer, digestive problems, gallbladder support, increasing saliva, inflammation, intestinal problems, pain, ulcers, wounds, and as a antiseptic, aphrodisiac Paraguay for abortions, birth control, libido, menstrual regulation Elsewhere for arthritis, asthma, cancer, contraception, digestive problems, rheumatism, spasms, tumors, water retention, wounds, and as an antiseptic

Espinheira santa is a small, shrubby evergreen tree growing to 5 m in height with leaves and berries that resemble holly. It is native to many parts of South America and southern Brazil and it is even found in city landscapes for its attractive, holly-like appearance. With over 200 species of Maytenus distributed in temperate and tropical regions throughout South America and the West Indies, there are many Maytenus species that are indigenous to the Amazon region which have been used medicinally by indigenous tribes.


This particular Maytenus species has not been used as extensively by the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region as other Maytenus trees in the area. It has been used by some native groups in Paraguay, where women use the plant as a contraceptive and fertility regulator, and to induce menstruation and abortions. Espinheira santa has a much longer and better documented history of use in urban areas and South American herbal medicine practices than in tribal areas, probably because of the types of illnesses that it treats. In Brazil, the leaves of the plant are brewed into a tea for the treatment of ulcers, indigestion, chronic gastritis, and dyspepsia (with a recorded history of use for these purposes dating back to the 1930s). The leaf tea is also applied topically to wounds, rashes, and skin cancer. In Brazilian pharmacies today, a topical ointment is made with espinheira santa and sold for skin cancer. In other herbal medicine systems in South America, espinheira santa for is used for anemia, stomach and gastric ulcers, cancer, constipation, gastritis, dyspepsia, liver disorders, and as a contraceptive. In Argentinean herbal medicine, the entire plant or leaves are infused or decocted for its antiseptic and wound healing properties and it is commonly used internally for asthma, respiratory and urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and to induce menstruation. Espinheira santa is used for skin cancer, however its most popular use has been for the treatment of ulcers, indigestion, chronic gastritis, and dyspepsia.


Espinheira santa is a source for a group of well known chemicals (found in the leaf, bark and roots of the tree) called maytansinoids. These chemicals represent a class of substances which have been studied since the early 1970's for their antitumorous and anticancerous activities and are today, being developed into chemotherapy drugs. A different class of chemicals found in espinheira santa - triterpene chemicals called cangorins - have also evidenced significant antitumorous, antileukemic, and anticancerous properties.

The main plant chemicals in espinheira santa include: atropcangorosin, cangoaronin, cangorins A thru J, cangorinine, cangorosin A & B, celastrol, dispermol, dispermone, friedelan, friedelin, friedelinol, friedoolean, friedooleanan, ilicifolin, ilicifolinoside A thru C, kaempferol trisaccharides, kaempferol disaccharides, maitenine, maytanbutine, maytanprine, maytansine, maytenin, maytenoic acid, maytenoquinone, pristimeriin, pristimerin, quercetin trisaccharides, quercitrin, salaspermic acid, tingenol, and tingenone.


Espinheira santa has been the subject of many clinical studies, fueled by its e ffectiveness in treating ulcers and even cancer, with research beginning as early as the mid-1960s. Toxicity studies in 1978 and 1991 showed no toxicity in rats and mice in dosages up to 1 g per kg of body weight. Due to its reported traditional use as an abortive aid and contraceptive, researchers studied those aspects specifically but were unable to clinically validate these uses. In one study, a water extract fed to pregnant mice daily did not induce abortion and did not cause any fetus change. Another research group injecting pregnant rats with leaf extracts (up to 100 mg/kg) reported that it did not cause abortive effects or toxic effects to the fetus, but did interfere in fertilization and implantation in non-pregnant rats. A study in 2002 confirmed these results, again stating that a leaf extract had estrogenic actions, which suggested the anti-fertility effect may be the interference of uterine receptivity to the embryo, but did not induce abortions or have any embyrotoxic effects. It was also reported in 1998 by the same scientist that it had no effect in male mice on sperm production.

Early research performed in Brazil in the early 1970s revealed that espinheira santa, as well as a few other species in the Maytenus family, contains maytansinoid chemical compounds that showed potent antitumor and antileukemic activities in vivo and in vitro at very low dosages. Then in an 1976 plant screening program by the National Cancer Institute, an alcohol and water extract of the leaves was documented with toxicity to cancer cells at very low dosages and U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies began to show an interest in it. Two of the chemicals, named maytansine and mayteine, were extracted and tested in cancer patients in the United States and South America in the 1970s following the NCI research. Although there were some significant regressions in ovarian carcinoma and some lymphomas with maytansine, further research was not continued due to the toxicity at the dosages used. Research with the compound mayteine revealed little to no toxicity and validated its uses in traditional medicine for various types of skin cancers. In the 1990s Japanese researchers discovered a different set of compounds (triterpene chemicals) in espinheira santa which they named cangorins (cangorin A through J). These new chemicals showed cytotoxic and/or inhibitory activity against various leukemia and cancer tumor cells and the researchers have published more than eight studies on their discovery and results.

Although espinheira santa is still used in South American traditional medicine for various types of cancer, its most popular use has been for the treatment of ulcers and digestive complaints. Its potent anti-ulcerous abilities were demonstrated in a 1991 study which showed that a simple hot water extract of espinheira santa leaves was as effective as two of the leading antiulcer drugs, ranitidine (Zantac®) and cimetidine (Tagamet®). The same study showed that espinheira santa caused an increase in volume and pH of gastric juice. In 1997 a Japanese research group filed a patent on the biologically active anti-ulcer compounds found in espinheira santa as a new anti-ulcer drug.


Espinheira santa is still widely sold in Brazilian stores and pharmacies today for stomach ulcers and cancer. With its popularity and beneficial results in South America, as well as its recent western research, espinheira santa is slowly becoming more popular and well known in the United States. Leaf infusions and/or leaf powder in capsules or tablets are currently being used for ulcers, as an antacid, as a laxative, as a colic remedy, to eliminate toxins through the kidneys and skin, to support kidneys, support adrenal glands, support digestive functions, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer.

ESPINHEIRA SANTA PLANT SUMMARY Main Preparation Method: decoction or capsules

Main Actions (in order):
anticancerous, antacid, antiulcerous, menstrual stimulant, detoxifier

Main Uses:

for cancer (melanoma, carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, leukemia) for stomach disorders (ulcers, acid reflux, gastritis, dyspepsia, indigestion, and to tone, balance, and strengthen the gastric tract) as a menstrual stimulant and for estrogen hormonal balancing during menopause for adrenal exhaustion and to support adrenal function for detoxification (skin, blood, kidney, stomach, adrenals) Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
antacid, antiulcerous, anticancerous, antileukemic, antitumorous, contraceptive, estrogenic

Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic, anti-fertility, antiseptic, astringent, blood cleanser, carminative (expels gas), detoxifier, diuretic, gastrototonic (tones, balances, strengthens the gastric tract), laxative, menstrual stimulant, sialogogue (increases saliva), tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions)

Cautions: Do not use with estrogen-positive cancers. It may have contraceptive and estrogen-like actions.

Traditional Preparation: One cup of a standard leaf decoction is taken two to three times daily (or with meals as a digestive aid). If desired, 2–3 g of leaf powder in tablets, capsules, or stirred into juice or water once or twice daily can be substituted. A standard leaf decoction can also be applied directly to the skin for topical use for wounds, rashes, and skin cancer. See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.


Research suggests that water extracts of espinheira santa may have estrogenic effects and reduce fertility in females. Women seeking treatment for infertility, attempting to get pregnant, or those with estrogen positive cancers should not use this plant.


Drug Interactions: One study with mice injected with a water extract of leaves recorded barbiturate potentiation activity. However the same study notes no potentiation activity when administered to mice orally.








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The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005