Please read about the healing properties of a plant that can cure many ailments, including the biggest pandemic we currently face.
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This is knowledge that is no longer passed down so readily from one generation to another, as it used to be. Yet these are benefits we should all be aware of. For to embrace the natural healing powers of plants, we are using an age old system of Mother nature.
Found when walking in Ecuador, the Cordia pods are also used locally as natural hair gel and paper glue. But, it was only when Thomas Wijbenga informed us of the name that I remembered that I studied the plant years before, for its fast acting properties in curing malaria. But there are many more powers to this remarkable species of 300 plants. As it can be used to treat a vast array of conditions, including:
- menstrual cramps
- stomach pain
It truly is a remarkable natural healer. According to the Wiley Online Library (March 2017) article entitled: Traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of the medicinal species of the genus Cordia (Boraginaceae)
The Leaves, fruit, bark and seed of a majority of the species were found to possess abundant ethnomedicinal values, but the leaves were found to be used the most to treat many ailments such as respiratory disorders, stomach pain, wound, inflammation, myalgia, cough, dysentery and diarrhoea.
The phytochemical investigation of 36 species resulted in isolation of 293 chemical constituents from various chemical classes. The crude extracts, fractions, essential oils and pure compounds isolated from various Cordia species were reported to have a varied range of pharmacological activities.
Many of the traditional uses of the genus Cordia were supported by the results obtained from pharmacological studies performed using various extracts or pure compounds. More attention should be given to the biological evaluation using pure phytochemicals and to identify the mechanism of actions and exploring this genus for new drug discovery.
Throughout the human age, plants have been the major source of basic needs for making food, housing, clothing and medicines.
The use of plants as a source of medicine in the form of various folklore medicines, decoctions, oils and many other remedies has been described well throughout history. Plants have been continuously providing new remedies for most human ailments. With more to be discovered as only 10% of the world’s biodiversity has been explored for the full potential of biological activity. This represents wide scope for the discovery of new drug molecules and further the field of natural medicines, we can but hope of course.
As we so often see, nature has already solved the problem. We just need to find it again.
Cordia is a genus of deciduous flowering trees or shrubs belonging to the family Boraginaceae. The name Cordia was given to the genus in honours of ‘Valerius Cordus’, a German botanist and pharmacist.
It consists of more than 300 species distributed widely in the tropical region of both the hemispheres including East Africa, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, Pakistan, West Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Sri Lanka and India.
Many species of the genus Cordia have long been used to treat several ailments in the various traditional systems of medicine. Plants such as C. dichotoma, C. latifolia, C. macleodii, C. myxa, C. rothii and C. obliqua are being used in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha systems of medicine.
Most of the species of the genus Cordia are used for treatment of wound, boils, tumour, gout and ulcer, and these species are also used as a blood purifier and febrifuge. Decoction of leaves of the several species is used for the treatment of flu, fever, cough, cold, asthma, menstrual cramps, dysentery, diarrhoea, headache and snakebite and as a tonic.
Bark is used as an astringent and hepatic stimulant. The root decoction is used to cure tuberculosis, bronchitis and malaria. Externally, the poultice prepared from leaves is used to treat migraine, inflammation and wounds.
Fruits of the plants from the genus are very mucilaginous and used as a demulcent and blood purifier, and in the disease of spleen, kidney and lung.
The major secondary metabolites isolated from the genus include terpenoid hydroquinone, triterpenoids, prenylated hydroquinone, meroterpenoid naphthoquinone, polysaccharides, fatty acids, sesquiterpenes, flavonol glycosides, oleanane‐ and ursane‐type triterpenes, arylnaphthalene‐type lignin, dammarane‐type triterpenes and hydrocarbons.
The phytochemistry and pharmacology of the various species of genus Cordia have been reported for many years.
The flowers are white, yellow or orange in colour with cyme, spike or head inflorescences. Calyx is generally tubular or campanulate with three to five short teeth. Corolla is infundibuliform, hypocrateriform or campanulate with four to eight lobes. Stamens are included or exserted with pubescent or glabrous filaments at the base. Generally, four locules are present in the ovary with one erect ovule in each locule. Fruits are ovoid, globose or ellipsoid in shape with bony endocarp and viscid pulp.
The ailments it treats
A majority of the Cordia species are used traditionally to treat various ailments such as stomach problem, respiratory disorders, inflammatory disorders, liver diseases, rheumatism, menstrual pain and skin diseases in their native countries. Leaves are found to be abundantly used in the form of decoction and poultice or paste. In Mexico, the decoction prepared from the leaves of C. alliodora, C. boissieri, C. cylindrostachya and C. linnaei has been used in pulmonary diseases and stomach disorders, while in Brazil the decoction of C. americana leaves is used to wash wounds and inflammation.
The poultice or paste prepared from the leaves of C. americana, C. corymbosa and C. macleodii is used in bruises and swellings, on wounds and as an analgesic and antiseptic,
In Ecuador, the young shoot paste of C. allliodora is used as an antiseptic in wounds and sores, while in Latin America the alcoholic bark extract of C. alliodora is used in the form of massage to release pain, myalgia and sciatica and leaf tea is used as a tonic in asthma and tuberculosis
In India, the fruits of C. dichotoma are used in coughs and intrinsic haemorrhages, and bark paste is applied on spider poisoning and eruptive boils.
The entire plant of C. obliqua is used to treat snakebite, while bark in the form juice with coconut oil is used in gripes. C. myxa leaves have been used in trypanosomiasis and lotion of the leaves in tsetse fly bites. Decoction of the C. rothii bark has been used as a gargle.
Phytochemistry of the genus Cordia
The genus Cordia is comprehensively studied for its chemical constituents, and till now, more than 290 compounds from different chemical classes have been identified. These phytochemicals mainly contain quinones, terpenoids, flavonoids, phenolics, lignans, saponins, steroids, fatty acids, alkaloids, carotenoids, coumarins, porphyrins, essential oil and miscellaneous group of compounds. Quinones, flavonoids and terpenoids are the major constituents isolated from the majority of the Cordia species. Many of the isolated compounds were also evaluated for their bioefficacy.
A total of 42 compounds isolated from the 16 different species of Cordia were mentioned in the miscellaneous class of compounds in the review, which includes fatty acid esters, phenylpropanoid esters, polysaccharides, sugars, proteins and xanthone derivatives.
Pharmacological activities of the genus Cordia
Much of the full potential of this incredibly diverse plant are as yet to be fully tested and so there is much scope for further research.
It was found to have and incredible number of benefits, as yet not fully explored including: antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti‐inflammatory, antiulcer, analgesic, antiulcerative hepatoprotective, antimyotoxic, anti-tumour activity, antivenom, hypoglycaemic and antidiabetic activities. , as well as Cardioprotective activity, Hypotensive and respiratory stimulant activity, anti‐inflammatory and antibacterial potential.
There is always of course tests needed on the side effects, and so the study notes that there is: very limited species that have been evaluated for the toxicity from the genus Cordia. The acute toxicity study of the ethanol leaf extract of C. macleodii at doses of 500 and 2000 mg/kg showed that it did not cause any mortality, but at the higher dose the tested mice demonstrated symptoms of depression.
Ethanol leaf extract of C. dichotoma was evaluated for acute toxicity using mice. The result of the study did not show any toxic signs except hypoactivity in mice at a dose of 3.5 g/kg, and the LD50 value of the extract was found to be 5.5 g/kg after oral administration. The hydroalcoholic leaf extract of C. ecalyculata (500, 100 and 2000 mg/kg) was evaluated for genotoxicity and cytotoxicity using two short‐duration tests (the comet assay and micronucleus test). In the peripheral blood, the extract demonstrated a weak clastogenic effect but did not show cytotoxic or clastogenic activity against PCEs in the bone marrow for the treatment of 24 h and 15 days.
Ethyl acetate leaf extract of C. sebestena showed a very low toxic effect on rat liver in subacute toxicity study at doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg when administered intraperitoneally. Whole extract of C. salicifolia was evaluated for acute as well as chronic toxicity in mice. LD50 value was found to be more than 2000 mg/kg after oral administration of the extract, while after intraperitoneal injection, it was found to be around 920 mg/kg.
Chronic toxicity study was performed after daily administration of 20, 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg doses orally for 90 days. The result of the study showed normal biochemical and haematological parameters in the mice, which indicates that the prolonged administration of extract did not cause any harmful effect.
The systematic pharmacological studies on the genus Cordia have given tremendous acceptance to their traditional uses in health problems. The phytochemical studies of the genus Cordia revealed isolation of a total of 293 chemical constituents, out of which 173 new compounds were identified and their structure was mentioned in the review.
The newly isolated compounds belong to the class of quinones, triterpenoids, flavonoids, lignans, neolignans, alkaloids, saponins, monoterpenoids, diterpenoids, steroids, phenylpropanoids, phenolic, polyphenols, porphyrins and coumarins. Most of the pharmacological studies have been performed using crude extract and fractions, while only 37 newly isolated compounds were evaluated for their pharmacological effects. Furthermore, quinones, terpenoids and flavonoids were found to be the major chemical constituents of the genus Cordia , and these constituents are known for their biological effectiveness. Thus, these constituents should be explored for their different pharmacological activities.
Some of the pharmacological activities studied using different types of extracts or pure phytochemicals of Cordia species justify their traditional medicinal values; for example, antimicrobial, antifungal, antimycobacterial and larvicidal activities studied for the crude extract or pure phytochemicals of the various species of the genus Cordia were related to its traditional use in bacterial and fungal infections, malarial, tuberculosis, leprosy, diarrhoea, dysentery, cough, cold, influenza and bronchitis. Anti‐inflammatory, antiulcer and analgesic activities shown by the genus Cordia were associated with their use in rheumatism, fever, wound, stomach pain and menstrual pain in traditional medicine. Antivenom and antimyotoxic studies proved their traditional use in snakebite. Many Cordia species were found to be used traditionally in syphilis, respiratory problems, chest pain and eye disease and to expel out worms, but the scientific data for these uses are still not available.
Moreover, limited data are available for the toxicity profile of the genus Cordia . This specifies that detailed toxicity study is required to be carried out for different pharmacologically active extracts and phytochemicals of medicinally important species of the genus Cordia . The genus is extensively studied for its phytochemistry, and many pure compounds have been isolated from the various species. But there are no specific studies reported on the isolated compounds. This indicates that the various species and isolated phytochemicals should be evaluated for biological efficacy with mechanistic approach. This may open ways for discovery of new drugs for treating various disorders.
Source: Wiley Online Library
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