Cumaru - Tonka Bean - Dipteryx odorata  Cumaru - Tonka Bean - Dipteryx odorata

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Cumaru
(Dipteryx odorata)

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  • Family: Fabaceae
    Genus: Dipteryx
    Species: odorata
    Synonyms: Coumarouna odorata Wild.
    Common Names: cumaru, tonka, tonka bean tree, amburana, imburana de cheiro, tonquin bean, rumara, kumaru, cumaruzeiro, charapilla, charapilla del murcielago, shihuahuaco, yape, sarapia
    Part Used: Seeds, Bark


    CUMARU
    HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
    Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • stimulates
  • reduces fever
  • Seeds
  • thins blood
  • aids digestion
  • Infusion: 1/2 cup twice daily
  • supports heart
  • promotes perspiration
  • Tincture: 1-2 ml twice daily
  • calms coughs
  •    
  • reduces inflammation
  •    

    Cumaru is a large rainforest tree that grows up to 30 m in height in the Amazon. It can be found in the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Venuezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, Peru and Colombia. It produces a gray to black seed or bean that is 2-5 cm long and about 1 cm in diameter that are commonly called "tonka beans." Cumaru is in the Dipteryx genus which comprises 10 species of shrubs and trees only in tropical America. This huge rainforest canopy tree is quite prevalent in the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Pará where it is often felled to use the durable wood as construction materials.

    TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES

    The seed and the bark of the cumaru tree have been employed by the rainforest Indian tribes in the Amazon for quite a long time. The bark is prepared as a decoction to bathe fevered patients in it. The seeds are fermented in rum and used for snakebites, cuts, contusions, coughs, rheumatism and as a shampoo. The seed oil is dropped into the ears for earaches and ear infections. In Brazilian herbal medicine systems today, cumaru is considered to possess antispasmodic, emmenagogue, cardiotonic, and antiasthmatic actions.

    The beans produced by the cumaru tree have a pleasant vanilla-like odor and have been used in perfumery, soaps, and as a flavoring agent in foods and tobacco. The beans are usually fermented in the local rum and then air-dried. This results in the formation of coumarin crystals dusting the outside of the seed, making them appear frosted.

    PLANT CHEMICALS

    Tonka beans can contain on average 1% to 3% coumarin but some strains have tested as high as 10%. Coumarin is a well known plant chemical which is an anticoagulant blood thinner that has been turned into a prescription drug called coumadin or Warfarin. Coumarin is toxic when ingested in high dosages. Dietary feeding of coumarin to rats and dogs has been associated with extensive liver damage, growth retardation, testicular atrophy and cardiac paralysis. The toxic dosage of coumarin in rats is reported to 680 mg/kg.

    In addition to courmarin, cumaru also also contains isoflavones, lupeol derivatives and fatty acid esters. Other plant chemicals include: (+/-)-balanophonin, (-)-lariciresinol, 3'-hydroxyretusin-8-methyl-ether, 5-methoxyxanthocercin A, 6,4'-dihydroxy-3'-methoxyaurone, 7-hydroxychromone, 7,3'-dihydroxy-8,4'-dimethoxyisoflavone, betulin, butin, coumaric-acid-beta-glucoside, dipteryxin, dipteryxic acid, eriodictyol, ferulic-acid, isoliquiritigenin, lupeol, melilotoside, melilotoside-1-p-coumaryl-beta-d-glucose, methyl-linolenate, methyl-oleate, O-coumaric-acid, O-hydroxycoumaric-acid, cdoratin, P-hydroxy-benzoic-acid, retusin, retusin-8-methyl-ether, sulfuretin, salicylic-acid, and umbelliferone.

    BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH

    In laboratory studies conducted in Brazil with animals, seed extracts have been reported to evidence chologogue, choleretic, antispasmodic, hypoglycemic, anti-diuretic, anti-spermatogenic, and anti-inflammatory actions. These animals studies noted liver damage and toxicity in rats at the higher dosages of 350 mg per kg of body weight using a crude seed extract. Researchers in the United States reported an in vitro anti-tumor effect using a mouse mammary cancer model in 2003.




    WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
    Amazonia contusions, coughs, cuts, earaches, fevers, rheumatism, snakebite, shampoo
    Brazil as an antispasmodic, emmenagogue, cardiotonic, and antiasthmatic; for asthma, coughs, digestive complaints, hair loss, heart conditions, mouth sores, pain
    Peru as an antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, perfume



    The above text has been authored by Leslie Taylor and copyrighted © 2005 to present. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

    * The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.




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    Last updated 12-17-2012