Espinheira santa: what is it for and the benefits of tea

This content is part of the Alternative Medicine category and may contain information that lacks scientific studies and/or medical consensus.

Espheira santa leaves are used in the treatment of gastritis, ulcers and heartburn . In addition to the stomach, the intestine also benefits from the properties of this plant.

According to the herbalist Danilo Ramon, the herb has flavonoids, essential oil, caffeine, iron, sulfur, etc. All these nutrients and compounds can be found both in tea and in capsules made with Maytenus ilicifolia, the vegetable’s scientific name.

Another benefit of espinheira santa indicated by the specialist is its slimming power . That’s because the herb works to combat fluid retention and obesity.

But of course, even being a natural product, the plant must be used with the supervision of a health professional. “The correct amount will be determined by the herbalist. He will determine if the case is one of treatment or prevention/maintenance”, explains Ramon.

Holy thorn is good for what?

The tea and capsules of this plant are analgesics, healing , cleansing and antioxidants . Therefore, they can treat diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system, the blood and even the body’s cells. Understand each function better!

treats gastrointestinal problems

“It is very useful for gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, gastritis and constipation . This is because it has great healing and analgesic power, accelerates the healing of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, relieves pain and also reduces intestinal congestion”, explains the herbalist.

In addition, hawthorn is digestive and anti-dyspeptic, so it combats the feeling of digestive discomfort, better known as indigestion .

It also protects the gastric mucosa against harmful substances, such as acids. In practice, the plant reduces the acidity of the stomach , increasing the pH of this region. Consequently, it avoids burning, nausea , abdominal pain and poor digestion.

The prevention of spasms in the stomach and intestine is another benefit to the gastrointestinal tract. Not to mention the carminative and cholagogue effects, because while the first eliminates gas , the second increases biliary secretion, improving digestion. (1 , 2 )

clean the blood

Another property of the herb highlighted by Danilo Ramon is its depurative action . In other words, it is able to clear the accumulated poisoning in the blood and body, fights uric acid and stimulates the proper functioning of the kidneys.

slim down

According to the herbalist, this benefit is a result of the previous one. “As it cleans the blood, the kidney is also benefited and this eliminates the fluid retention that is caused by kidney failure, due to dirty blood”, he reveals.

With a clean body and no accumulation of fluids, the body starts to normalize the weight and reduce the swelling caused by retention.

In addition, the digestive action also contributes to the slimming effect, especially in obese people who suffer from constipation . With the intestine working properly, more substances that should not be accumulated are eliminated from the body.

But, of course, to lose weight in a healthy way, it is important to pay attention to food, giving preference to fresh foods and discarding industrialized ones. All this associated with a good physical exercise plan, such as walking, jogging or gym.

protects the skin

Two properties explain this beneficial effect well: the astringent and antiseptic action. Both clean the skin, for this reason the plant ends up being good for conditions such as acne and pimples .

However, the astringent power, by eliminating impurities, also controls oiliness. This ends up being a positive bonus for those who want to take care of their pores.

The plant is also an ally in the treatment of external injuries , as in addition to cleaning the wounds, it also acts to prevent the development of inflammation and pain. ( 2 )

Helps in cancer treatment

What is known about the thorn tree in the fight against cancer is its antitumor effect. This means to say that it acts to combat the development of tumors. ( 2 )

However, some more specific studies have already reported an anti-leukemic action, being used topically on skin tumors . ( 3 )

How to make hawthorn tea?

As per the recommendations of the naturopath, the tea of ​​the plant should be made using infusion methods , as boiling the herb together with water can result in loss of properties.

Therefore, you can bring the water to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, turn off the heat and pour the contents into a cup. Add a shallow soup spoon of the powdered plant. Then just cover the container and wait for the drink to warm. It is interesting to drink without adding sugar .

“You can also use 3 grams of leaves in 150 ml of water, to be more exact”, teaches Danilo Ramon.

The plant to make this infusion can be found at health food stores or street markets.

How to take?

The expert’s recommendation regarding tea is one cup for up to three times a day . “Depending on the case, it is used before meals in the case of ulcers and gastritis”, he advises.

Can you have tea from espinheira santa every day?

Danilo Ramon explains that it is okay to use the infusion every day, as well as there is no time limit for using this natural remedy.

As it is not a toxic tea for adults, it can be drunk every day without the risk of intoxication. Also, because it is a tonic and stimulant plant, its drink can be used as a preventive.

External use

“For external use, you can apply over the affected area in the case of pimples, acnes or wounds”, he explains.

plant capsules

This version is ideal for those who are not used to drinking tea or for those who do not have time to make the infusion. In addition to being more practical, the tablet makes it easier to control the dosage.

For the naturopath Danilo Ramon, a capsule is recommended to help prevent diseases or maintain health. If the focus is on a specific treatment, the indicated are two capsules three times a day.

They can be purchased from online or physical health food stores. They can also be prepared in compounding pharmacies.

How long does it take to take effect?

According to the phytotherapy professional, there is no set deadline for the medicine to begin to work in the body, since this response depends on several factors.

“If a person is constipated, the treatment will take longer. If the person is just doing maintenance to avoid a problem, it only takes a few days or a few hours and the person will already have a quick effect”, he explains.

However, Ramon warns of cases where the drug is not having an effect on the body. For example, the patient has been using the pill for a few days and still is not noticing the desired effects.

In these situations, he should seek the advice of a herbalist, as it is common for the dosage to be incorrect. But an expert will know how to recommend the proper amount.

Side effects and contraindication

The plant is not toxic for adult patients, but it can harm women who are breastfeeding. “It has some functions that reduce milk secretion, that is, women who breastfeed should avoid the use of espinheira santa, as it can reduce breast milk ,” he warns.

Therefore, neither tea nor capsules should be used while breastfeeding. Also, pregnant women and children under 6 years old should also avoid it.

This species is considered an herbal medicine and is included in the Ministry of Health’s Medicinal Plants and Herbal Medicines Program for the SUS. The herb is also listed on the National List of Medicinal Plants of Interest to the SUS (RENISUS) and in other health agencies involving herbal medicine. ( 3 )

What is false holy thorn?

Sorocea bonplandii  is the scientific name of the plant known as the false-thorn tree. It is often confused with the real one, as they have similar characteristics.

Danilo Ramon explains that both have thorny leaf margins, but the big difference is that Maytenus ilicifolia has smaller leaves.

Another detail is that while the real one is a shrub of great medicinal value, as it treats heartburn, gastritis and ulcers, the fake one is just a tree that has its wood much used for other purposes, such as in constructions.

“It’s important to use the scientific name to get the herbs correctly, as the popular name can vary by region. Another important precaution is to choose the supplier well, as it can be sold in fake instead of the real one, as can happen in street sales”, concludes the herbalist.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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