MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
ANDIROBA - CRABWOOD
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ANDIROBA HERBAL DESCRIPTION
A SUSTAINABLE RAINFOREST TREE
Andiroba is also known as Carapa guianensis and Crabwood. Other common names are Andiroba-saruba, bastard mahogany, Brazilian mahogan, iandirova, carapa, cedro macho, figueroa, krapa, nandiroba, requia, tangare, y-andiroba. The Andiroba tree is native to topical South America. For centuries, extracts from all parts (bark, flowers and fruits) of the Andiroba tree have been used for centuries by the Amazon Indian people as a source of prevention and treatment for a variety of ailments such as arthritis, inflammation, skin disorders, fevers, flu and depression, just to name a few. The parts used are the seed oil, bark and leaves of the tree.
The Munduruku Indians used the seed oil for mummifying human heads taken as war trophies. Other Indian tribes used the oil to remove ticks and treat other skin parasites. The bark was brewed in a tea for treating fevers and intestinal worms, and applied it to the skin for skin ulcers, insect bites, and as an insect repellent.
Andiroba oil is extracted from the round chestnut-like fruits bearing seeds which contain the rich, yellow oil. Though the method is primitive, the seeds are boiled and later squeezed in a wood press known as a tipiti. One Andiroba tree can produce nearly a quarter of a ton of seeds annually. The seed is composed of 50 percent oil, making this one of Brazil's most sustainable rainforest products. The Andiroba oil burns cleanly with little smoke and is used as lamp fuel in the rainforest. Andiroba oil when burned also repels mosquitoes, flies, and other pests. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The flowers produced by this tree burst with fragrance and have anti-tumor actions while the heartwood is an anti-fungal.
It is in the same family as mahogany, and it has been called Brazilian mahogany or bastard mahogany due to their similarity. It can be found growing wild throughout the Amazon rainforest, usually on rich soils, in swamps, and in the alluvial flats, marshes, and uplands of the Amazon Basin. It can also be found wild or under cultivation in Brazil in the Islands region, Tocantins, Rio Solimoes, and near the seaside. It is one of the large-leafed trees of the rainforest and can be identified by its large and distinctively textured leaves.
Andiroba wood is soft, yet durable, and much sought by sawmills. It has in the past been shipped to the United States for use in the furniture industry and for other uses. Its durability and impalatability to insects have guaranteed commercial demand for the wood, and as a result, the species has been devastated in all areas near major towns in Amazonia. It could, however, be cultivated easily in the Amazon or other regions of Brazil.
The andiroba tree produces a brown, woody, four-cornered nut, some 3 to 4 inches across that resembles a chestnut. The nut contains several oil-rich kernels or seeds that average about 63-percent oil, which is pale yellow in color. Rich in compounds known as limonoids, the seed (nut) oil possesses anti-imflammatory properties welcomed by sufferers of arthritis and rheumatism. Damaged skin improves with topical applications of andiroba oil, an example being the lessening of skin flaking in cases of psoriasis. Popular anti-wrinkle creams such as Oil of Olay and Aveda contain andiroba oil. Local tribes make soap and candles with the oil, the latter product serving effectively as an insect repellent. The bark exhibits antibiotic activity, and the flower shows promise in cancer research for its anti-tumor capacities, especially regarding skin and uterine cancers.
Andiroba oil is a sustainable rainforest product that has a long history of use in South America as well as commercial value. A single tree will produce, on average, about 200 kg of nuts annually. Approximately 6 kg of nuts are required to produce 1 kg (about a liter) of andiroba oil using the traditional extraction method. This traditional method is efficient, if somewhat primitive. The seeds are collected from rivers, where they float after being shed by trees or from the forest floor. They are then boiled in a large pot of water, left for some two weeks until they have rotted, and then squeezed (in a primitive press known as a tipiti) to extract the oil. One consequence of this extraction method is that crude andiroba oil is frequently associated with a red coloring that is derived from the skin of the seeds. Because the oil becomes rancid very quickly, it must be used quickly. Local usage is mostly limited to immediate use or to the manufacture of soap or candles.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES
The indigenous peoples in the Amazon have used andiroba in many ways for centuries, and virtually all parts of the tree, as well as the seed oil are utilized. The Munduruku Indians traditionally used the oil for the mummification of human heads taken as war trophies. The Wayapi, Palikur, and Creole Indian tribes have used andiroba oil to remove ticks from their scalps, for other skin parasites, and even in the process of tanning animal hides. The indigenous tribes of Northwest Amazonia brew the bark, and sometimes the leaves, into a tea for fevers and intestinal worms; they also apply this tea externally for ulcers, skin parasites, and other skin problems. Indians have also used the oil as a solvent for extracting the plant pigments and colorants with which they paint their skin. Several Indian tribes in the Amazon combine andiroba oil with the reddish-orange pigment extracted from annatto seeds. They rub the oily bright orange paste all over their bodies and even into their hair to protect themselves from biting insects and to repel rain water (to which they are constantly exposed in the rainforest).
Andiroba oil burns well and is used as a natural lamp fuel in the rainforest. In the early 1800s, the street lamps of Belém Brazil were fueled with andiroba oil. Not only does it burn cleanly with little smoke but it also repels mosquitoes, flies, and other pests. Traditional forest dwellers and river people in Brazil called caboclos make a medicinal soap using crude andiroba oil, wood ash, and cocoa skin residue. This soap is especially recommended for the treatment of skin diseases and as an insect repellent. They also apply andiroba oil directly on joints to relieve arthritis pain and mix it with hot water and human milk and drop it into the ear for ear infections. To aid digestion, the bark is soaked in water for a day and 1 cup is taken before meals.
Many of these uses continue today in the Brazilian herbal medicine systems. Andiroba oil is used by Brazilian city dwellers either in pure form or mixed with other oils or natural products. They apply it externally to wounds and bruises, use it as a massage oil and natural insect repellant, and employ it topically for many skin diseases and conditions, including psoriasis. A common natural remedy in Brazil is prepared by soaking 1/4 of a cabacinha (the fruit of Luffa operculata) in 250 ml of hot andiroba oil for several hours. This warm maceration is rubbed into the skin to relieve arthritis and rheumatism and to cauterize wounds. A teaspoon of this preparation is also gargled for sore throats and taken internally for coughs. Andiroba is also still widely used as an insect repellent and for treating insect bites for both people and animals.
The oil is commercially manufactured into anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-arthritic, and insect repellant soaps as well as turned into candles that are sold as natural insect repellents. The oil is also used in Brazil as a furniture polish that is thought to protect wooden furniture from termites and other wood-chewing insects.
ANDIROBA PLANT CHEMICALS
Andiroba oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids including oleic, palmitic, stearic, and linoleic acids. It yields up to 65 percent unsaturated fatty acids and can contain up to 9 percent linoleic acid. (Linoleic acid has shown in various studies over the years to lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and provide anticancer benefits.)
All parts of the andiroba tree (including the oil) tastes very bitter. This bitterness is attributed to a group of terpene chemicals called meliacins, which are very similar to the bitter antimalarial chemicals found in other tropical plants. One of these meliacins, named gedunin, has recently been documented with antiparasitic properties and an antimalarial effect equal to that of quinine.
Chemical analysis of andiroba oil, bark, and leaves has also identified the presence of another group of chemicals called limonoids. The anti-inflammatory and insect repellent properties of andiroba oil are attributed to the presence of these limonoids, including a novel one which has been named andirobin. Another limonoid called epoxyazadiradione is found in andiroba oil; it has been documented with in vitro antitumor effects (neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma cancer cell lines were tested).
Main chemicals found in andiroba include andirobin, arachidic acid, acetoxy-gedunins, epoxyazadiradiones, deacetoxygedunins, hydroxylgedunins, gedunins, hexadecenoic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, and stearic acid.
ANDIROBA BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES & CLINICAL RESEARCH
Tests of crude andiroba oil by Brazilian scientists have produced evidence of its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. The bark has also demonstrated in vitro antibacterial activity in another clinical study. Thus far, at least three chemicals found in andiroba have been found to have antiparasitic and/or insecticidal actions. A branch of the Brazilian government has been working with andiroba's insect repellant properties and is soon to produce an insect-repellent product utilizing andiroba oil that will be provided to the military and other government workers who are exposed to mosquitoes and other biting bugs in the forests of Brazil. In 1999, a U.S. patent was filed detailing that andiroba oil, when applied topically, prevented the formation of cellulite through a chemical enzyme-blocking action. (Unfortunately, they reported it didn't have to ability to get rid of existing cellulite). Some of the more recent research has focused on andiroba's anticancerous actions. In 2002, researchers reported that the seed oil could prevent and even reverse cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition that can oftentimes develop into cervical cancer. In addition, the leaf, bark, seeds, and flowers have shown some activity against sarcoma cancer cells in vitro, and the crude oil passed a preliminary screening test to predict antitumor activity.
ANDIROBA USES, HEALTH BENEFITS, & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
Carapa is a genus in the Mahogany family Meliaceae. The Andiroba is a tall rainforest tree that grows up to 40 meters tall and is found in tropical South America with common names Andiroba and Crabwood. Formerly, only three species (Carapa guianensis, C. megistocarpa and C. procera) were accepted as species names; it is now 27 proposed species, among them 12 new species, some of which have been published in scientific journals. C. guianensis (4-merous type flowers) and C. procera (5-merous type flowers) are complexes of species in America and Africa, respectively. Certification of natural oil required additional investigation to ensure that species name is correctly mentioned on packaging. In 99.9 percent the name C. guianensis is mentioned for Andiroba or Carapa oil, and this might be wrong depending on location of harvested seeds. Oil quality might also differ depending on tree species and country or region of origin.
The Andiroba timber is important and the oil is produced from the seeds. The name Andiroba is from Nheengatu, meaning "bitter oil". Carapa guianensis produces seeds which oil is similar in properties to Neem oil.
Today, Andiroba oil is applied on joints to soothe arthritis and rheumatism pain. The oil improves circulation to the skin, relieves pain and swelling, and promotes quicker healing of fractures. The oil drops can also be used in the ear for ear infection and works well in soothing coughs. Externally, the oil helps the skin heal more quickly and is used on cuts, scrapes, abrasions, gonorrhea, insect bites, and psoriasis. It is also a base for many anti-wrinkle creams.
Andiroba bark in a tea works well in aiding digestion. Research performed at the Museum of Medicinal Plants, in Macapa, Brazil, showed anti-carcinogenic actions in Andiroba oil.
In Brazil, capsules containing the oil have been used for the treatment of internal cancer, but its effectiveness is unknown.
ANDIROBA PLANT PROFILE
Main Preparation Method: Cold pressed oil. Main Actions (in order): Analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, insect repellant, antitumorous, wound healer Main Uses: For insect bites and stings. As an insect repellant. For psoriasis, dermatitis, heat rash, skin fungi, and other skin problems. For skin parasites. For skin cancer. Properties/Actions Documented by Research: Analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-allergic, antibacterial, anticancerous, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antiparasitic, antitumorous, insect repellant. Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use: Antiseptic, balsamic, emollient, febrifuge (reduces fever), vermifuge (expels worms), wound healer. Cautions: None.
Andiroba oil has been the subject of some recent research concerning its' anti-parasite and insecticidal actions. A Brazilian research group published two studies in 2012 on andiroba oil's ability to kill adult ticks and their eggs. They summarized their research saying: "Thus, the present study showed that the use of this vegetal product would be an alternative way to control the ticks, bringing benefits similar to the ones obtained through the use of synthetic acaricides; however, with less damage to nontarget organisms and the environment as well." A different group of Brazilian researchers also published a study in 2012 confirming that andiroba oil as well as a limonoid fraction had highly effective antimalarial actions in vitro and confirmed that the oil was non-toxic in mice. Yet another group in Brazil testing plants for anti-parasitic actions against intestinal worms and parasites reported in two 2012 studies that andiroba did have an effect, but it was much lower than the other plant extracts they were testing. Andiroba was also shown to be insecticidal against mosquito larva in two studies in 2012, one in 2006 and another published in 2005. Andiroba was also reported to be insecticidal against the fall armyworm in a 2011 study. Andiroba was among the ingredients of a natural insect repellent for humans that was patented in 2012.
Researchers reported in 2012 that andiroba was able to kill a specific type of bacteria that causes diseases in honeybee hives however its' insecticidal action caused mortality to the bees. In 2012 researchers published a study about the efficacy of a natural herbal combination for the treatment of head lice. The product combined a vinegar extract of another rainforest plant, amargo, which is known to kill the eggs/nits and andiroba oil which they reported asphyxiated the adult lice.
Andiroba was reported to have anti-allergic actions in a Brazilian study published in 2005. Simultaneously they also reported pain-relieving actions in mice. This action was attributed to various chemicals in andiroba oil called tetranortriterpenoids. In 2011, researchers studying the mechanisms of how specifically these actions took place reported that their in vitro tests indicated andiroba's anti-allergic actions were due to a immune modulation activity which inhibited eosinophil migration and activated T lymphocytes. Eosinophils play an important role in the development of allergic reactions and allergic diseases like asthma. One of these tetranortriterpenoids named gedunin has been the subject of recent anti-allergic research itself. In 2012, researchers reported that gedunin had a remarkable effect reducing allergic responses by modulating eosinophil and T lymphocytes in the lungs of mice.
Andiroba has long been used to enhance wound healing by using it topically on wounds. Interestingly, researchers in the West Indies gave mice andiroba oil internally (in their water rations) and reported in 2010 that it increased wound healing when taken internally. A year later this research group reported that the leaves of the andiroba tree also increased wound healing in mice when used topically and taken internally. Researchers in 2006 tested andiroba's active tetranortriterpenoid fraction for its' anti-inflammatory effect. They gave mice 100 to 200 mg of this fraction orally and reported significant anti-inflammatory actions against chemically-induced arthritis. This effect was mostly attributed to its' ability to modulate various immune system chemicals and reactions responsible for creating inflammation.
Toxicity studies were conducted in 2008 and researchers reported that the acute and subacute administration did not produce toxic effects in rats in dosages up to 5 gram per kilogram of body weight. However, there was an increase in the ALT serum level and in both absolute and relative liver weights which might indicate a possible liver toxicity. Another toxicity study in 2007 was conducted on pregnant rats and reported no toxic effects in dosages up to 3 grams/kilogram administered over a 7 day period.
ANDIROBA CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
Andiroba oil is well known in Brazil and widely employed to heal many skin conditions and as a natural insect repellant. In the last several years, several andiroba oil products sold in capsules have appeared in Brazilian stores and pharmacies and are recommended for cancer and internal healing. North American practitioners and consumers are just beginning to learn of andiroba's powerful healing properties. Andiroba oil can be applied topically several times daily to rashes, muscle/joint aches and injuries, wounds, insect bites, boils, and ulcers. It can also be used by itself or combined with other oils as a healing and anti-inflammatory massage oil as well as placed in the ears for ear infections. It is also a great natural remedy for ear mites in dogs and cats: just place several drops in the affected ears daily for a week.
WORLDWIDE MEDICAL USES Amazonia
For arthritis, colds, chiggers, digestion, feet (tired), fever, flu, insect bites, itch, leprosy, lice, malaria, mites, parasites, repelling/killing insects, skin problems, tetanus, ulcer, worms.
For acne, bruises, arthritis, cancer, constipation, cough, cuts, dermatitis, diabetes, diarrhea, ear infections, fevers, hepatitis, herpes, inflammation, bites, malaria, muscle aches, pain, parasites, psoriasis, repelling insects, rheumatism, skin diseases, skin rashes, skin ulcers, sores, splenitis, throat problems, worms.
As an insect repellent,
For inflammation, muscle pain, repelling/killing insects, rheumatism, skin rash, skin problems, ticks, wounds.
For diarrhea, skin problems, and as an astringent.
For dermatitis, fever, herpes, skin sores, worms.
For colds, fever, flu, killing insects, muscle pain, sore feet, and as a massage oil.
For itch, leprosy, malaria, parasites, skin problems.
For arthritis, herpes, repelling/killing insects, skin disorders, tetanus.
ANDIROBA DOSAGE INFORMATION
Andiroba comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. For best results, read and follow product label directions.
- For skin conditions, insect bites, and sore muscles and joints, liberally apply the oil topically several times daily.
- Andiroba's nut or seed oil can be applied liberally to scrapes and cuts.
- For ear infections and earaches, place 2 drops of the oil inside the ears.
- For internal use, generally 2 ml in a small glass of warm water is taken two or three times daily.
- This can also be used as a gargle for sore throats.
- Andiroba's nut or seed oil can be used internally for persistent coughs.
ANDIROBA HERBAL PROPERTIES & ACTIONS MAIN ACTIONS OTHER ACTIONS STANDARD DOSAGE
- Heals Wounds
- Reduces Pain
- Reduces Inflammation
- Kills Bacteria
- Relaxes Muscles
- Kills Parasites
- Expels Worms
- Repels Insects
- Kills Insects
- Sooths Skin
- Reduces Fever
- Prevents Tumors
- External: Applied topically to skin as needed.
- Internal: 2 ml, 2 to 3 times daily.
ANDIROBA SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Andiroba is generally regarded as safe for use topically.
No reported contraindications or drug interactions.
There are no known safety issues associated with Andiroba when taken internally; however, it is best to consult with health care practitioner for use of this oil internally.
If you are pregnant, nursing, epileptic, have liver or kidney damage, or have cancer, do not use Andiroba without the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
ANDIROBA / CRABWOOD SUPPLEMENTS & RELATED PRODUCTS
QUALITY PRODUCTS & SUPPLEMENTS
ANDIROBA / CRABWOOD HERBAL PRODUCTS
TakeHerb: Andiroba Renewal Body Lotion, Alba Botanical, 8 fl. oz.
TakeHerb: Andiroba Exfoliating Body Wash, Alba Botanical, 8 fl. oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Oil, Organically Grown / Wild-Harvested, Therapeutic Grade, Unrefined, Celebratio Vitae, 4 fl. oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Oil, Unrefined (Virgin) Organic 100% Pure, Dr. Adorable, 4 oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Oil, Unrefined (Virgin) Organic 100% Pure, Dr. Adorable, 8 oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Oil, Fresh, Rainforest Therapy, 8 fl. oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Body Oil, Natura Tri-Phases, 200 ml
Amazon: Rainforest Andiroba Renewal Body Wash, Alba Botanica, 8 oz.
Alba Botanica Amazon: Rainforest Andiroba Renewal Body Lotion, Alba Botanica, 8 oz.
Amazon: Andiroba Hydration & Revitalization Cream, Kanechom, 1000 Grams
Nutrition Basics: Andiroba (Crabwood) Herbal Information
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