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Tree Spinach

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.

Nombre Científico:

Cnidoscolus chayamansa

Botanical Family:


Other Common Names:

Tread softly, Cabbage star, Wild chaya

Common Names in Spanish:

Chaya, Chayamansa, Candelero, Chichicaste, Mala mujer, Quelite

Part(s) of the plant used:

The stems and leaves.

Where is it found?

This shrubby plant or small tree is native to Mexico and Central America

How is it used?

  • Decoctions made from the leaves and stems are used both externally as well as internally
  • Capsules containing the pulverized leaves are available in certain health food stores

What is it used for?

  • The stems and leaves boiled in water and taken as a tea are used for various health issues including:
  • Inflammation (the plant contains antioxidant compounds)
  • Against protozoan (one-celled animals) parasites
  • Against bacterial infections (including tuberculosis)
  • Diabetes (lowers blood sugar levels)
  • To promote milk production
  • As a gentle laxative
  • To lower cholesterol
  • Treatment of kidney, respiratory, and gastrointestinal problems
  • Externally the decoctions are applied for vaginal infections
  • The tender leaves are rich in vitamin C, but are edible only when previously cooked

Hojas de of C. chayamansa

Photo: Frank Vincentz - Wikipedia commons
Leaves of C. chayamansa Public Domain/ Wikipedia


Safety / Precautions

  • The safety of using products made from this plant (either internally or externally) during pregnancy and lactation has not been established
  • Avoid taking this plant during pregnancy and lactation
  • The raw (uncooked) leaves should not be eaten, as they contain toxic compounds
Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!



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