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Bas Cedar

The bas cedar tree is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and can grow to a height of 20m or more. The leaves are oblong and the tree bears very pale yellowish flowers which give way to small green fruits, which have a very rough skin and turn dark brown when ripe. The bark has a rough, fissured texture.

Traditional Uses

Bas Cedar Leaves and Fruits

Scientific Name: 

(Guazuma ulmifolia - Sterculiaceae)
Other Names:
Bay Cedar, West Indian Elm, Guazima, Mutamba, Bois D'homme
Parts used:
Bark, Leaves, Root

The bark of the bas cedar is used in Jamaica to treat stomach problems, for chesty coughs, sexual weakness in men and female disorders. A decoction of the bark is also used to treat cuts and sores. Bas cedar bark is still used today as an ingredient in some of the roots tonics that are popular on the island.

In Central and South America bas cedar is widely used for conditions such as diarrhoea, haemorrhaging, uterine pain, childbirth, stomach inflammation, sexually transmitted diseases, prostate problems and for skin diseases.

It is also used for coughs, colds and bronchitis. In Brazil, bas cedar is used to detoxify the blood, for asthma and liver problems. Bas cedar is also popular there for treating hair loss.

Modern Research & Uses

Research on bas cedar has been ongoing for almost forty years and in that time many of the active plant chemicals found in both leaf and bark extracts have been confirmed as having antibacterial, anti-oxidant, and antiviral properties.

One study found that the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the leaves and twigs of the bas cedar protected gastric mucosa against the effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are often prescribed for arthritis and other painful conditions.

Recent research has highlighted the broad benefits of one particular chemical procyanidin B-2, which has shown promising signs of anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties and could also be effective in lowering blood pressure. Other research has confirmed that procyanidin B-2 can increase hair growth, which is one of the traditional uses for bas cedar.

There are currently commercially available formulas baaed on bas cedar which have been effective in aiding weight loss. Ongoing studies indicate that bas cedar might also be effective in reducing blood sugar levels.

Plant Chemicals

Bas cedar has among its plant chemicals: tannins, proanthocyanidins, including procyanidin B-2, kaurenoic acid, caryophyllene, catechins, farnesol, friedelin, precocene, sitosterol, kaempferol glycoside, octacosanol, taraxerol-AOC.

Caution! Do not use bas cedar when pregnant. People who have high blood pressure should only use bas cedar under professional supervision.

References

  • Berenguer, B et al –The Aerial Parts of Guazuma Ulmifolia Lam. Protects against NSAID Induced Lesions – Journal of Ethnopharmacology – Vol. 114:2, Nov (2007) p153-60 
  • Felipe, AM et al - Antiviral effect of Guazuma Ulmifolia and Stryhnodendron Adstrygus on poliovirus and bovine herpesvirus - Biol Pharm Bull (2006); 29(6): 1092-95
  • Mitchell & Ahmad - A Review of Medicinal Plant Research at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica 1948-2001 - WI Med J (2006);55(4):243
  • Taylor, L - The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs - (2005) - Square One Publishers