Chuchuhuasi (Maytenus krukovii, Maytenus laevis,Maytenus macrocarpa)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
3-oxofriedelan-28-oic acid, 3-oxofriedelan-29-oic acid, 24(Z)-3-oxodammara20(21),24-dien-27-oic acid, 28,29-dihydroxyfriedelan-3-one, agarofuran sesquiterpenes, canophyllol, catechin tannins, Celastraceae (family), Celastrus macrocarpus, chocha huasha (shipibo-conibo), chu chu huasu, chucchu huashu, chuchasha, chuchuasi, chuchuhuasha, chuchuhuasi, chuchuwasha, chuchuwasha blanca, dammarane-type terpeines, dulcitol, ebenifoline alkaloids, epigallocatechin, euojaponine alkaloids, friedelane-type triterpenes, Haenkea macrocarpa, Haenkea multiflora, hydroxytingenone, isoxuxuarine B alpha, isoxuxuarine B beta, krukovine A, krukovine B, krukovine triterpenes, laevisine alkaloids, macrocarpin triterpenes, macrocarpins, makrocarpine, maytansine, mayteine, maytenin, maytenoic acid, Maytenus boaria, Maytenus chuchuhuasca, Maytenus colasii, Maytenus diversifolia, Maytenus ebenifolia, Maytenusguyanensis, Maytenus krukovii, Maytenus laevis, Maytenus macrocarpa, Maytenus multiflora, Maytenus terapotensis, mebeverine, octa-nor-13-hydroxydammara-1-en-3,17-dione, ouratea-proanthocyanidin A, ouratea-proanthocyanidin B, phenoldienones, pristimeran, pristimerin, pristimerine, proanthocyanidins, sesquiterpenes, tingenone, triterpenes, xuxuá, xuxuasin A, xuxuasin B.
Note: The name "catuaba" may be used for the infusions of the bark of several trees that are native to Brazil. The most widely used barks are derived from the trees Trichilia catigua and Erythroxylum vacciniifolium; however, "catuaba" may also refer to the bark of Maytenus species. Catuaba is a remedy common in Brazilian folk medicine.
Maytenus spp. may be found around the world and may be used in a variety of traditional medicine systems. This monograph, however, will focus on Maytenus spp. from South America that are more commonly associated with chuchuhuasi. According to review, several different species may be referred to as "chuchuhuasi," which may cause a modicum of confusion. In addition to Maytenus macrocarpa, Maytenus species that are generally used as chuchuhuasi may also include, but may not be limited to, M.krukovii (M.chuchuhuasha) and M.laevis, and occasionally M. colasii (Salacia colasii).
Other species that have been associated with chuchuhuasi include M. ebenifolia, M. boaria, and M.guyanensis (secondary sources). Typically, however, M. macrocarpa, M.krukovii (M.chuchuhuasha), and M.laevis are the more widely accepted species for chuchuhuasi. Some secondary sources cite that M. ilicifolia is used as chuchuhuasi; however, expert opinion indicates that this species should not be associated with chuchuhuasi.
This monograph focuses primarily on M. macrocarpa, M.krukovii (M.chuchuhuasha), and M.laevis, in addition to M. ebenifolia, M. boaria, M.guyanensis, and to a lesser extent, M. colasii.
Chuchuhuasi refers to several different species of the Maytenus genus. Maytenus may be found around the world and may be used in a variety of traditional medicine systems. Typically, however, Maytenus macrocarpa, M. krukovii (M.chuchuhuasha), and M. laevis are the more widely accepted species for chuchuhuasi. These and other native South American plants of the Maytenus genus may be found in the tropical rainforests.
The bark, roots, and leaves of various species referred to as "chuchuhuasi" have been used in ethnomedicine for many purposes, including the treatment of rheumatism, due to claims of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Chuchuhuasi has also been used for tuberculosis, bronchitis, stomachache, and fever. Chewing the bark of the chuchuhuasi is considered by traditional medicine experts to be effective for the treatment of diarrhea, arthritis, and menstrual problems.
Chuchuhuasi may contain a variety of active substances. Limited research suggests that chuchuhuasi may be useful in the treatment of skin cancer. However, further research is needed. Clinical evidence supporting the use of chuchuhuasi for any condition in humans is lacking.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Limited study suggests that maytenin, a component extracted from certain Maytenus species, may be useful in the treatment of skin cancer. Additional high-quality research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Abortion inducing, adrenal tonic (support), alcoholism, anemia, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic (leishmaniasis), antiseptic, aphrodisiac (increases sexual desire), arthritis, asthma, back pain, birth control, broken bones, bronchitis, diabetes (aldose reductase inhibitor), diarrhea, endurance, energy booster, fever, flavoring agent, gastrointestinal conditions, headache, hemorrhoids, immune stimulant, impotence, lactic acidosis (lactic acid buildup), lung cancer, menstrual cramps, menstrual stimulant, multiple sclerosis, muscle pain, muscle relaxant, musculoskeletal disorders, osteoarthritis, pain, pain relief, paralysis (insecticide poisoning), Parkinson's disease, postpartum problems, radioprotection, rheumatism, sexual dysfunction, sexual vigor, skin conditions, sterility, stimulant, stomach upset, tonic, tuberculosis, weight loss.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
For general use, herbal experts have suggested that chuchuhuasi be taken before breakfast for at least a month to be effective. The following dosages have been suggested for taking by mouth: 60 drops (2 milliliters) of chuchuhuasi bark extract 2-3 times daily; as a water extract, one cup 2-3 times daily; or 3-5 milliliters of tincture 2-3 times daily. A concentrated powder extract (1-3 grams daily) may be used to make a tea or consumed in a smoothie. Other dosing suggestions include boiling one tablespoon of ground chuchuhuasi in one liter of water for 20 minutes, straining, and chilling overnight, then drinking three cups daily between meals.
For arthritis and rheumatism, one cup of a bark extract taken by mouth three times daily for more than one week has been suggested. Boiling a small piece of the bark (five centimeters, or approximately two inches) in two liters of water until one liter remains and then drinking the extract three times daily for one week has been suggested.
As a stimulant, boiling a small piece of the bark (five centimeters, or approximately two inches) in two liters of water until one liter remains and then drinking the extract three times daily for one week has been suggested.
As a tonic, the inner bark of Maytenus krukovii may be chewed, or extracted and taken by mouth, before eating breakfast for one month.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for chuchuhuasi in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to chuchuhuasi, its constituents, or members of the Celastraceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery, as chuchuhuasi may increase drowsiness and promote relaxation.
Avoid in pregnant women, as Maytenus macrocarpa has been used traditionally for birth control and to induce abortion.
Avoid in individuals with known allergy or hypersensitivity to chuchuhuasi, its components, or members of the Celastraceae family.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Avoid in pregnant women, as Maytenus macrocarpa has been used traditionally for birth control and to induce abortion. Chuchuhuasi is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Chuchuhuasi may interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, anti-inflammatory agents, and antiprotozoals.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Chuchuhuasi may interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatory herbs, antioxidants, and antiparasitics.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Bruni R, Rossi D, Muzzoli M, et al. Antimutagenic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Maytenus krukovii bark. Fitoterapia 2006;77(7-8):538-545. View Abstract
Cespedes CL, Alarcon J, Aranda E, et al. Insect growth regulator and insecticidal activity of beta-dihydroagarofurans from Maytenus spp. (Celastraceae). Z Naturforsch C 2001;56(7-8):603-613. View Abstract
Chavez H, Callo N, Estevez-Braun, A., et al. Sesquiterpene polyol esters from the leaves of maytenus macrocarpa. J Nat Prod 1999;62(11):1576-1577. View Abstract
Chavez H, Estevez-Braun A, Ravelo AG, et al. Friedelane triterpenoids from Maytenus macrocarpa. J Nat Prod 1998;61(1):82-85. View Abstract
Gonzalez AG, Bazzocchi IL, Moujir L, et al. Ethnobotanical Uses of Celastraceae Bioactive Metabolites. Studies in Natural Products Chemistry 2000;23:649-738.
Gonzalez JG, delle Monache G, delle Monache F, et al. Chuchuhuasha - a drug used in folk medicine in the Amazonian and Andean areas. A chemical study of Maytenus laevis. J Ethnopharmacol 1982;5(1):73-77. View Abstract
Kloucek P, Polesny Z, Svobodova B, et al. Antibacterial screening of some Peruvian medicinal plants used in Calleria District. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;99(2):309-312. View Abstract
Kloucek P, Svobodova B, Polesny Z, et al. Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal barks used in Peruvian Amazon. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;111(2):427-429. View Abstract
Melo AM, Jardim ML, De Santana CF, et al. [First observations on the topical use of Primin, Plumbagin and Maytenin in patients with skin cancer]. Rev Inst Antibiot (Recife) 1974;14(1-2):9-16. View Abstract
Morita H, Hirasawa Y, Muto A, et al. Antimitotic quinoid triterpenes from Maytenus chuchuhuasca. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2008;18(3):1050-1052. View Abstract
Nakagawa H, Takaishi Y, Fujimoto Y, et al. Chemical constituents from the Colombian medicinal plant Maytenus laevis. J Nat Prod 2004;67(11):1919-1924. View Abstract
Perez-Victoria JM, Tincusi BM, Jimenez IA, et al. New natural sesquiterpenes as modulators of daunomycin resistance in a multidrug-resistant Leishmania tropica line. J Med Chem 1999;42(21):4388-4393. View Abstract
Sanz-Biset J, Campos-de-la-Cruz J, Epiquien-Rivera MA, et al. A first survey on the medicinal plants of the Chazuta valley (Peruvian Amazon). J Ethnopharmacol 2009;122(2):333-362. View Abstract
Shirota O, Sekita S, Satake M, et al. Nine regioisomeric and stereoisomeric triterpene dimers from Maytenus chuchuhuasca. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2004;52(6):739-746. View Abstract
Torpocco V, Chavez H, Estevez-Braun A, et al. New dammarane triterpenes from Maytenus macrocarpa. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2007;55(5):812-814. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017