7 junio, 2024

Chilcuara: what it is, characteristics, properties, uses

What is chilcuara?

The chilcuara or chilca (Baccharis latifolia) is a wild shrubby plant, abundant in South America, traditionally used as a medicinal plant. Depending on the locality, it is known by various names: azumiate, yellow cistus, chilcuara, chilca, chilkha, bitter chilca, jaguar grass or cucamarisha.

It is a natural species of temperate and dry regions that grows near water sources, such as rivers and lakes. It is common to find it in areas ranging from the southern United States and Mexico to the temperate areas of Chile and Argentina.

In traditional culture, different healing and medicinal properties are attributed to the chilcuara or chilca. Since ancient times it was used topically or as an infusion to alleviate and cure different ailments and diseases.

A decoction of clean and fresh chilcuara leaves is effective for the treatment of gastrointestinal and liver ailments. Likewise, as an infusion it has antiparasitic and antidiabetic properties, cures insomnia and rheumatism, and has expectorant functions.

External applications of the macerated leaves, stems and flowers are also used to relieve inflammation and abrasions of the skin.

On the other hand, wild crops are favorable for bee production thanks to the abundant flowering that attracts these pollinators. The bees gather around the chilca plants, preferring their nectar to that of other floral species.

Characteristics of the chilcuara

The chilcuara is a very branched and dense shrub species that can reach 1 to 2 meters in height.
It has a deep taproot with numerous secondary roots, which allows it to keep the plant hydrated in times of drought.
Being a bushy plant, it develops various stems that branch from the base. These are thick, with a woody consistency and a rough appearance. The filiform glabrous leaves are toothed and lanceolate, 10-15 cm long and 2-4 cm wide, and glossy green.
The vegetative period is continuous throughout the year and flowering begins during the wet months, from November to March. The tiny male and female flowers are grouped in a panicle-shaped inflorescence, with reddish tones and white spots.
The ovoid and hairy fruits, similar to small nuts, are grouped together forming numerous clusters, and are differentiated by the filaments that cover the fruit. The seeds are very small and light.
Reproduction can be carried out sexually through seeds, or asexually, through rooted basal branches. The traditional way of reproducing this species is through juvenile individuals obtained from the mother plant.
However, in various areas it is classified as an invasive plant. Indeed, under favorable conditions it adapts quickly, coming to replace native species and altering local ecosystems.
This species contains essential oils and phenolic compounds that alleviate various ailments when used topically or taken in infusions. The leaves can be applied to wounds or skin conditions, and leaf infusions relieve digestive problems.
The flavonoid content of chilcuara allows it to be used in the industrial field as a natural colorant. The leaves of the plant, macerated and boiled in water, are used as dyes for yellow and green tones.

taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae.
subkingdom: Viridiplantae.
underkingdom: streptophyta.
superdivision: embryophyta.
Division: Tracheophyta.
Subdivision: spermatophytin.
Class: Magnoliopsida.
superorder: Asteranae.
Order: Asterales.
Family: Asteraceae.
Gender: Baccharis L.
Species: Baccharis latifolia (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers.

Properties

The chilca is a shrubby plant frequently used for medicinal purposes. As a poultice, it is used to calm external inflammations, such as fractures and dislocations. In infusions, it relieves ailments of the digestive, hepatic and respiratory systems.

Fur

The clean and macerated leaves are used to soothe a rash or rash caused by heat or insect bites.

Stem and flower decoction baths with the addition of bicarbonate soothe skin rashes caused by chickenpox or measles.

bruising

Topical applications of macerated fresh leaves with alcohol allow to soothe bruises and inflammations caused by falls or blows.

inflammations

The chilca is effective to treat external or internal inflammations. When there are external inflammations in which lumps or abscesses can be seen, the crushed leaves can be applied to the affected area.

In the case of internal inflammations, the decoctions of branches and leaves are a good remedy to relieve pain. Likewise, it is effective to improve ailments and discomforts related to the locomotion system, such as rheumatism.

Stomach

It prevents infections and stomach pains when applied directly on the belly, or taken as an infusion on an empty stomach.

Liver

For liver ailments or inflamed liver, it is recommended to consume on an empty stomach with pineapple and lemon juice. To do this, fresh and clean leaves are blended with pieces of pineapple and a few drops of lemon.

form of intake

The way of elaboration and application of chilcuara is determined by the type of ailment and the medicinal property that you want to take advantage of:

Infusions or tea

The fresh leaves and branches prepared in infusion with water at a concentration of between 5 and 10% are a restorative with a bitter taste. This infusion is used to calm coughs, relieve intestinal and liver problems, and as an antidiabetic.

juices

Strained with the base of fresh leaves with pineapple and lemon juice are used to relieve liver ailments.

creams

Topically, they are used macerated or crushed —using water or alcohol as a solvent— to relieve ailments and inflammations.

Bathrooms

Sitz baths of decoctions of leaves and branches are used to relieve menstrual ailments and rheumatism problems.

contraindications

Despite the innumerable medicinal benefits of this plant, its consumption is restricted in pregnant women and lactating mothers.
If you are undergoing medical treatment for any disease, you should consult your doctor to rule out possible interactions.
Patients with allergic problems to certain components (such as phenols or flavonoids) may suffer skin irritation in case of topical applications.
Recent studies have not determined side effects. However, as with any medicinal product, its intake must be notified to the doctor.

References

Country girl. Recovered from plantasmedicinales10.com.
Ortiz, LS, & Vega, GRA Use of Baccharis latifolia (Chilca) in La Paz, Bolivia. Biofarb.

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