Iporuru

Alchornea species

Herbs gallery - Iporuru

Common names

  • Iporoni
  • Iporuru
  • Macochihua
  • Niando

The herbal plant called the iporuru is found in the tropical forest along the Amazon and in certain parts of Africa - it is shrub of humid tropical forests. This shrub tends to grows along the low lying plains which often turn into swamps during the heavy rainy season in the tropics. Harvesting of the iporuru is carried out only in the dry season of the year. At this time, the medically active constituents contained in the plant are at their highest. Herbal remedies are often prepared from the bark of the iporuru plant. In Peru, many of these remedies and products made from the iporuru can be found being sold in the local markets and the herbal stores.

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The Iporuru plant can be considered a shrub like small tree that can grow to about eight or ten m in height when fully mature. The iporuru has a light brown colored bark and bears violet colored flowers when in full bloom. The iporuru is found in large numbers over extensive ranges in the lower elevations and the flood plains of the Amazon River system in South America. It is found in the moist, humid and tropical forests of South American, in countries like Peru, the republic of Argentina, in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, as well as Paraguay, and Venezuela to the north. The harvest of the iporuru takes place only during the dry season in Amazonia. The plant spends much of the rainy season submerged as vast tracks of the forest become flooded by heavy tropical rain. The reason for the harvest of the iporuru only during the dry season stem from a belief held by natives, that the active medicinal properties present in the bark seem to be active only in the dry season and not in the wet seasons.

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The bark and the leaves of the iporuru plant have been utilized for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Amazonia for a variety of different purposes. The leaves and the bark are prepared in many different ways to make specific herbal remedies. The iporuru is usually employed with other plants in the shamanistic training of native medicine men and is also at times include as an ingredient in the preparation of ayahuasca - the hallucinogenic, multi-herb decoction used by many South American shamans in their rituals. A tincture is made from bark or leaves of the iporuru usually by combining it with the local rum, called aguardiente. This local remedy is used in the treatment of problems such as rheumatism, chronic and painful arthritis, common colds, and muscle pains by the all the natives of the vast Amazon region overlapping many countries. The iporuru herb is very familiar to all the indigenous peoples in the country of Peru, these natives of the land use the herb in relieving physical symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. The remedy aids with flexibility and increases the range of motion in the body of affected patients. The bark and the roots of the iporuru are prepared into an herbal remedy by the Candochi-Shapra and the Shipibo Indian tribes; this remedy is used in the treatment of rheumatism. A decoction made from the bark of the iporuru is also consumed before meals by the members of the Tikuna tribe, who use a tbsp. of the bark decoction before meals to prevent diarrhea. Topical treatments are also made from the iporuru based on its well known pain relieving properties. The leaves of the iporuru are crushed and rubbed on painful joints or are beaten into an herbal paste and applied to alleviate the pain in stingray induced wounds on the skin.

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Natives of Amazonia also prepared the leaves into an herbal decoction to bring relief from chronic coughs and respiratory ailments. In some parts of Peru, the leaves of the iporuru are used to increase female fertility - this treatment is usually in cases where the man suffers from impotency. The distinguished Peruvian ethno botanist, Richard Rutter, has insisted that the iporuru is widely employed by the natives of Peru as an effective aphrodisiac and is used as a geriatric tonic for old men in these cultures. The iporuru remedy is seen as a general remedy for impotency throughout much of Peru and is also used to balance blood sugar levels in diabetics with elevated blood sugar levels. In North America, the iporuru remedy has been gaining popularity in recent times mainly among athletes and health practitioners. The clinical reports suggest that iporuru gives nutritional support to the muscles and joint structures in the human body. The reported analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb have made it popular in the United States among individuals who suffer from problems like arthritis and other types of disorders in the joints and bones.

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Parts used

Bark, leaves, root.

Uses

Remedies made from the iporuru bring relief from the inflammation and the symptomatic pain induced by arthritis and related joint disorders. The iporuru plant has been increasingly recognized by many athletes and health care practitioners as a beneficial herb, as it effectively supports the musculature and the joint structure of the human body. A clinical study recently concluded in Argentina discovered that an herbal extract of the iporuru plant possessed bactericidal effects and was also very effective in defeating the penicillin G resistant strains of the Staphylococcus aureus, the Escherichia coli, and the Aspergillus niger, strains of infectious bacteria.

The bark of the iporuru plant is made into a traditional South American herbal remedy, this remedy is prepared by steeping the bark in the local aguardiente - a type of rum. This decoction is used to treat disorders such as arthritis, to ward off and control common colds, and to treat sore muscles and muscle pains that affect a person who has fished or hunted for many days. Traditional Peruvian health care practitioners usually give the iporuru herb as a treatment for rheumatism and impotence. This remedy is also used to lower blood sugar problems in people affected by diabetes and related metabolic disorders. Native Peruvians have historically used remedies made from the iporuru in treating the symptoms of chronic osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.

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Some of the specific health conditions that can be treated using the iporuru herbal remedy are given below:

The remedy is used in the treatment of gout; the herb helps in the rapid elimination of accumulated metabolites and toxins in the body. Acute inflammation in the human body can be alleviated by taking the iporuru remedy. The reason for the effectiveness of iporuru in relieving inflammation in the body is connected to the high concentrations of plant pigments called flavonoids in the herb; these compounds inhibit the inflammatory reactions at the cellular level and effectively check such problems. The other major action of the flavonoids in the body is that they help relax the skeletal muscles - which are useful in dealing with the symptom of many other diseases. The iporuru remedy is also used in the treatment of impotence and infertility that affects men, however, the iporuru unique as a traditional treatment for infertility because while it is used to cure such problems in the man - the remedy is given to the woman rather than the man. This method of treating male impotency or infertility is strange to say the least; a plausible explanation offered for this practice is that the herb may act on the woman's body and increase cervical receptivity to sperm cells - thus aiding conception. There are other effects as well, some French scientists suggested that men who took iporuru would probably have stronger and long lasting penile erections, achieve better and greater penetration, and would also produce much more viable sperm due to the presence of the compound yohimbine - this beneficial compound is found in the iporuru and was originally isolated from the yohimbe herbal plant, hence the name.

The herbal iporuru tincture is found in many herbal stores. In addition to pure iporuru remedies, there are commercial formulas available in the markets that combine the iporuru herb with the smilax herb - this is sold as an aphrodisiac remedy. When the iporuru is combined in an herbal formula with the cat's claw herb, it is used to relieve inflammation affecting various parts of the body. If large and excessive doses of the herbal iporuru remedy are taken at one time, it can lead to an overdose and great discomfort. The dosage directions on the product must be followed stringently to avoid over dosing on the remedy.

Research

In spite of the long traditional and historical use of the iporuru as an herbal remedy in South America, relatively little clinical research have been conducted on the plant. Whatever research that has been carried out on the herb does to some degree adds substance to its traditional uses and substantiates its role as a remedial herb. Swedish students have documented that an ethanol extract of the iporuru bark seemed to bring about significant reduction in the swelling and inflammation induced in rats - the medication was applied as a topical remedy on the test animals. The Swedish researchers further found that the iporuru extract also was capable of inhibiting the COX-1 prostaglandin synthesis in the body as well. The fatty acid derived compounds called prostaglandins are produced by the biochemical activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase - or COX; these compounds have been linked to many inflammatory processes and disease states affecting the human body. These days, a class of drugs called COX inhibitors are the largest anti-inflammatory and arthritis relieving pharmaceutical drugs for sale. The historical and traditional use of the iporuru remedy to treat all kinds of inflammatory joint and muscle disorders including osteoarthritis, arthritis, and rheumatism may be explained by the fact that the iporuru herb inhibits prostaglandin synthesis. These effects of the iporuru in the body were confirmed in other clinical studies conducted by U.S. researchers, who noticed similar effects when they injected mice with an ethanol extract of iporuru - the scientists observed that the extract induced an anti-inflammatory effect against chemical induced inflammation in the body of the mice.

The results from some other preliminary in vitro clinical research that were conducted in Canada have also reported that iporuru possesses distinct anti-viral, fungicidal, and tumor reducing properties. During the clinical investigation, the researchers conducted a "crown gall tumor inhibition" assay - this is a preliminary laboratory test that predicts the presence of any antitumor activity in the substance under study. The ethanol extracts of iporuru and the water extracts of the dried iporuru bark both tested active albeit in very small quantities in the course of the assay - it is thus suggested that iporuru possesses some anti-tumor activity. During another test conducted by the researchers to predict any antitumor activity in the extract - the test was an anti-crustacean assay using Artemia salina - the ethanol extract of iporuru tested active in the assay, however, the iporuru water extract did not give positive results. The Canadian researchers also studied microbicidal action of the extracts, this test showed that the ethanol extract possessed an effective fungicidal activity against several strains of fungus; however, the water extract did not have any effect on microbes. In addition to this, the anti-viral effect of the ethanol extracts of iporuru was better and more effective than the effects induced by the water based iporuru extract. No bactericidal or anti-yeast effects were shown by the ethanol or the water extracts against the strains used in this particular clinical test.

Constituents

There has been comparatively little research that has been carried out to completely catalog the many phytochemicals present in the iporuru plant. During chemical analysis and initial screening, the iporuru has been found to contain many kinds of steroids, compounds called saponins, phenols, plant specific compounds and pigments such as flavonols and flavones, many types of tannins, as well as xanthones, and a variety of alkaloid compounds. A group of alkaloids found in the iporuru is responsible for the strong anti-inflammatory action of the iporuru remedy. This particularly refers to the alkaloid compound known as alchorneine that was extracted from the bark of the iporuru as well as being found in several other species of the Alchornea plant - after which it is named.

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