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Database File for:

Pata de Vaca
(Bauhinia forficata)

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Pata de vaca

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  • Family: Leguminosae
    Genus: Bauhinia
    Species: forficata
    Synonyms: Bauhinia candicans
    Common Names:Pata de vaca, casco de vaca, mororó, pata de boi, unha de boi, unha de vaca, unha-de-anta
    Part Used: Leaves


    From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

    PATA DE VACA
    HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
    Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • lowers blood sugar
  • expels worms
  • Leaves
  • improves diabetes
  • kills snails
  • Infusion: 1 cup 2-3 times daily
  • cleanses blood
  • tones body systems
  • Capsules: 2 g 2-3 times daily
  • increases urination
  •    
  • lowers cholesterol
  •    
  • lowers triglycerides
  •    
  • fights free radicals
  •    

    Pata de vaca is a small tree that grows 5-9 m tall. Its leaves are 7-10 cm long and shaped like a cow's hoof, which is distinctive to the Bauhinia genus. Its Brazilian name, pata de vaca, translates to cow's foot. It produces large, drooping white flowers and a brown seed pod resembling that of mimosa. It can be found in the rainforests and tropical parts of Peru and Brazil, as well as in tropical zones of Asia, eastern Paraguay, and northeastern Argentina. It is quite prevalent in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil's Atlantic rainforest to the south. The Bauhinia genus comprises about 500 species of shrubs, small trees, and lianas in the tropics - most of which bears the distinctive cow's hoof shaped leaves.

    TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES

    The indigenous uses of pata de vaca are not well documented, but it has long held a place in Brazilian herbal medicine. It has been described as hypoglycemic, a blood purifier and a diuretic, and has been used for over 60 years to balance blood sugar levels in diabetics. It is considered a good blood cleanser, and a leaf decoction is used internally and externally for elephantiasis and snakebite, as well as other skin problems (including those of a syphilitic nature). It is a highly regarded treatment for diabetes, even being called "vegetable insulin." As such, it is used in South America to help balance blood sugar levels and to alleviate other symptoms of diabetes (such as polyuria, kidney disorders, and other urinary problems). Pata de vaca leaves and tea bags are common items on pharmacy shelves in South America; traditionally, a leaf tea (standard infusion) is drunk after each meal to help balance sugar levels.

    PLANT CHEMICALS

    Scientists have studied the constituents of pata de vaca and quantified them, however; little research has been done to determine which novel chemicals have biological activity. The leaves do contain a well-known antibacterial chemical called astragalin as well as flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides. The leaves are also a good source of a flavonoid called kaempferitrin. This chemical has been reported to help repair kidney cell damage, and to have a diuretic effect. The main plant chemicals in pata de vaca include astragalin, bauhinoside, beta-sitosterol, flavonols, flavonoids, glycosides, guanidine, heteroglycosides, kaempferitrin, organic acids, quercitrosides, rhamnose, and saponins.

    BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH

    Pata de vaca's ability to lower blood sugar was first reported by a Brazilian researcher in an in vivo 1929 clinical study, which was followed by another in vivo (dog) study in 1931. The same Brazilian researcher published another study in 1941, reporting the blood sugar-lowering effects of pata de vaca in humans, dogs, and rabbits. A study was funded in 1945 to determine the active constituents responsible for its activity. Since a simple leaf tea was shown to help balance sugar levels, it became a popular natural remedy, however, no subsequent studies were done for many years due to a lack of funding for nonproprietary remedies and drugs.

    In the mid-1980s, however (when herbal remedies again were popular), pata de vaca's continued use as a natural insulin substitute was reiterated in two Brazilian studies. Both studies reported in vivo hypoglycemic actions in various animal and human models. Chilean research in 1999 reported the actions of pata de vaca in diabetic rats. Their study determined that pata de vaca was found to "elicit remarkable hypoglycemic effects," and brought about a "decrease of glycemia in alloxan diabetic rats by 39%." In 2002, two in vivo studies on the blood-sugar-lowering effects of pata de vaca were conducted by two separate research groups in Brazil. The first study reported "a significant blood glucose-lowering effect in normal and diabetic rats." In the second study, 150 g of the leaf (per liter of water) was given to diabetic rats as their drinking water. Researchers reported that, after one month, those receiving pata de vaca had a "significant reduction in serum and urinary glucose and urinary urea . . ." as compared to the control group.

    In 2004, a research group reported that pata de vaca again lowered blood sugar in rats and also reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol levels in diabetic rats stating, "These results suggest the validity of the clinical use of N. forficate in the treatment of diabetes mellitus type II. Other Brazilian researchers reported in 2004 that pata de vata, as well as a single chemical extracted from the leaves called kaempferitrin, significantly lowered blood sugar in diabetic rats at all dosages but lowered blood sugar in normal rats only at the highest dosages. They also documented an antioxidant effect. Toxicity studies published in 2004 indicate there were no toxic effects in either normal or diabetic rats, including pregnant diabetic rats.

    CURRENT PRACTICAL USES

    Pata de vaca continues to be a popular natural medicine in South America for diabetes and clinical research there supports its use. A standard infusion is brewed and drunk after each meal, and pata de vaca is often combined with pedra hume caá (another South American plant featured in this book) for this after-meal tea. North American practitioners and herbalists are now using it for diabetes, hyperglycemia, and polyuria.



    PATA DE VACA PLANT SUMMARY
    Main Preparation Method: infusion or capsules

    Main Actions (in order):
    antidiabetic, hypoglycemic, diuretic, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions), hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol)

    Main Uses:

    1. for diabetes
    2. as a diuretic for kidney and urinary disorders (including polyuria, cystitis and kidney stones)
    3. as a blood cleanser and to build blood cells
    4. for high cholesterol
    Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
    antidiabetic, antioxidant, hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), diuretic, hypoglycemic

    Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
    antivenin, astringent, blood cleanser, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions), uterine relaxant, vermifuge (expels worms)

    Cautions: Diabetics should use under doctor supervision as insulin medications may need adjusting.



    Traditional Preparation: In South America, 1 cup of a standard leaf infusion is taken three times daily with meals for diabetes. If desired, 2 g in tablets or capsules three times daily can be substituted. See Herbal Preparation Methods instructions if necessary.

    Contraindications: Pata de vaca lowers blood sugar levels. It is contraindicated in those with hypoglycemia. Diabetics who wish to use this plant should seek the advice and supervision of a qualified health care practitioner while using this plant as blood sugar levels will need to be monitored carefully and medications may need adjustments.


    Drug Interactions: Will potentiate antidiabetic medications and insulin drugs.


    WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
    Amazonia for diabetes, diarrhea, and as a tonic
    Brazil for blood cleansing, central nervous system disorders, cystitis, diabetes, diarrhea, elephantiasis, hyperglycemia, intestinal worms, kidney problems, kidney stones, leprosy, obesity, polyuria, skin disorders, snakebite, syphilis, urinary diseases, and as an astringent, and diuretic
    Chile for diabetes
    Peru for diabetes and as a tonic
    Elsewhere for diabetes and as a uterine relaxant




    The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005
    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.

    A complete Technical Data Report is available for this plant.
    † 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.





    Referenced Quotes for Pata de Vaca

    1. "The Brazilians discovered that Pata de Vaca can be used as an insulin substitute for diabetics. It combats the polyuria (frequent urination) that accompanies diabetes and normalizes the frequency of urination. It also prevents hyperglycemia, (high blood sugar). Pata de Vaca may have diuretic properties in non-diabetics."

    2. "Pata-de-vaca has been widely used in Brazil for treatment of diabetes."

    3. "Pata-De-Vaca is widely used in Brazil to combat diabetes."

    8. "Brazilian uses and Folklore: In his book, "Cura com Yoga e Plantas Medicinais" Chiang Sing recounts the experience of one Friar Luiz Maria. This priest was a diabetic. In the early 1950's, Friar Luiz Maria heard about a plant that could cure the symptoms of diabetes. He travelled to Campo Grande in search of a doctor named Christophe, who made preparations from this plant. Dr. Christophe himself had learned about this plant from the Indians and local farmers. The Friar met Dr. Christophe, took the extract made from Pata-de-Vaca, and in 40 days he was in fine condition (p. 160). Pata-de-Vaca has been widely used for years, but it is only recently that clinics and pharmacologists have begun to study the plant that has so long received public praise. As an herbal tea Pata-de-Vaca is often taken together with Pedra Hume Caa. Uses: Helpful in treating diabetes. Used in homeopathy as a mother tincture."

    19."Bauhinia sp.
    MED08: Medicinal uses: treats diarrhea
    MED29: Medicinal uses: Tonic
    FUE03: Fuel Sources: resin/latex used for incandescense
    MIS05: Miscellaneous uses: leaves for trail marker
    General tonic. Plants used as tonics (i.e., therapies for general well-being and strength) are called he-o-ha-puhan ‘weary-agentive-remedy'. Five folk species are used as tonics, Bauhinia, Drypetes, Laetia, Clarisia, and several water vine species of the dillenia family. As tonics, a root decoction of [bauhinia] is taken orally; . . ."




    Third-Party Research on Pata de Vaca

    All available third-party research on pata de vaca can be found at PubMed/Medline. A partial listing of the third-party published research on pata de vaca is shown below:

    Antidiabetic & Hypoglycemic Actions:
    Ferreres, F., et al. "Bauhinia forficata Link authenticity using flavonoids profile: Relation with their biological properties." Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):894-904.
    Curcio, S., et al. "Hypoglycemic effects of an aqueous extract of Bauhinia forficata on the salivary glands of diabetic mice." Pak J Pharm Sci. 2012 Jul;25(3):493-9.
    Trojan-Rodrigues, M., et al. "Plants used as antidiabetics in popular medicine in Rio Grande do Sul, southern Brazil." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jan 6;139(1):155-63
    Pereira, D., et al. "Effects of flavonoids on alpha-glucosidase activity: potential targets for glucose homeostasis." Nutrition. 2011 Nov-Dec;27(11-12):1161-7.
    da Cunha, A., et al. "Hypoglycemic activity of dried extracts of Bauhinia forficata Link." Phytomedicine. 2010 Jan;17(1):37-41.
    Tzeng, Y., et al. "Kaempferitrin activates the insulin signaling pathway and stimulates secretion of adiponectin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes." Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Apr 1;607(1-3):27-34.
    Vishnu Prasad, C., et al. "Kaempferitrin inhibits GLUT4 translocation and glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes." Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Feb 27;380(1):39-43.
    Volpato, G., et al. "Effect of Bauhinia forficata aqueous extract on the maternal-fetal outcome and oxidative stress biomarkers of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Feb 28;116(1):131-7.
    Pinheiro, T. S., et al. “Comparative assessment of kaempferitrin from medicinal extracts of Bauhinia forficata J. Pharm. Biomed Anal. 2006 May; 41(2):431-6.
    Cazarolli, L., et al. "Follow-up studies on glycosylated flavonoids and their complexes with vanadium: their anti-hyperglycemic potential role in diabetes." Chem Biol Interact. 2006 Nov 7;163(3):177-91.
    Estrada, O., et al. “Evaluation of flavonoids from Bauhinia megalandra leaves as inhibitors of glucose-6- phosphatase system.” Phytother. Res. 2005; 19(10): 859-63.
    Vasconcelos, F., et al. “Insulin-like effects of Bauhinia forficata aqueous extract upon Tityus serrulatus scorpion envenoming.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec; 95(2-3): 385-92.
    Jorge, A. P., et al. “Insulinomimetic effects of kaempferitrin on glycaemia and on 14C-glucose uptake in rat soleus muscle.” Chem. Biol. Interact. 2004 Oct; 149(2-3): 89-96
    Fuentes, O., et al. “Hypoglycemic activity of Bauhinia candicans in diabetic induced rabbits.” Fitoterapia. 2004 Sep; 75(6): 527-32.
    Pepato, M. T., et al. “Evaluation of toxicity after one-months treatment with Bauhinia forficata decoction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2004 Jun 8; 4: 7.
    de Sousa, E., et al. “Hypoglycemic effect and antioxidant potential of kaempferol-3,7-O-(alpha)-dirhamnoside from Bauhinia forficata leaves.” J. Nat. Prod. 2004; 67(5): 829-32.
    Lino, S., et al. “Antidiabetic activity of Bauhinia forficata extracts in alloxan-diabetic rats.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2004; 27(1): 125-7.
    Pepato, M. T., et al. “Anti-diabetic activity of Bauhinia forficata decoction in streptozotocin-diabetic rats." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2002 July; 81(2): 191–97.
    Silva, F. R., et al. “Acute effect of Bauhinia forficata on serum glucose levels in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2002; 83(1–2): 33–7.
    Lemus, I., et al. “Hypoglycemic activity of four plants used in Chilean popular medicine.” Phytother. Res. 1999; 13(2): 91–4.
    Miyake, E. T., et al. “Caracterizacao farmacognostica de pata-de-vaca (Bauhinia fortificata)." Rev. Bras. Farmacogn. 1986; 1(1): 56–68.
    Almeida, R., et al. “Levantamento da flora medicinal de uso no tratamento da diabete e alguns resultados experimentais.” VIII Simposio de Plantas Medicinais do Brasil, Manaus-AM, Brazil. September 4–6, 1984, 23.
    Costa, O. A. “Estudo farmacoquimico da unha-de-vaca.” Rev. Flora Medicinal 1945; 9(4): 175–89.
    Juliani, C. “Hypoglycemic action of bauintrato (Bauhinia forficata preparation) new clinical and experimental study.” J. Clin. 1941; 22: 17.
    Juliane, C. “Acao hipoglicemiante de Bauhinia forficata. Novos estudos experimentails.” Rev. Sudam. Endocrin. Immol. Quimiot. 1931; 14: 326–34.
    Juliane, C. “Acao hipoglicemiante da unha-de-vaca.” Rev. Med. Pharm. Chim. Phys. 1929; 2(1): 165–69.

    Cholesterol-Lowering Actions:
    Ferreres, F., et al. "Bauhinia forficata Link authenticity using flavonoids profile: Relation with their biological properties." Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):894-904.
    Lino, S., et al. “Antidiabetic activity of Bauhinia forficata extracts in alloxan-diabetic rats.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2004; 27(1): 125-7.
    Miyake, E. T., et al. “Caracterizacao farmacognostica de pata-de-vaca (Bauhinia fortificata)." Rev. Bras. Farmacogn. 1986; 1(1): 56–68.

    Kidney Protective & Diuretic Actions:
    Ni, Z., et al. “Effect of astragalin on matrix secretion and beta 1 integrin mRNA expression in human mesangial cells.” Chin. Med. J. 1999; 112(12):1063-7.
    Yokozawa, T., et al. “Protective effects of some flavonoids on the renal cellular membrane.” Exp. Toxicol. Pathol. 1999; 51(1): 9-14.
    Hamzah, A. S., et al. “Kaempferitrin from the leaves of Hedyotis verticillata and its biological activity.” Planta Med. 1994 Aug; 60(4): 388-9.

    Antioxidant Actions: Khalil, N., et al. "Free radical scavenging profile and myeloperoxidase inhibition of extracts from antidiabetic plants: Bauhinia forficata and Cissus sicyoides." Biol Res. 2008;41(2):165-71.
    Ferreres, F., et al. "Bauhinia forficata Link authenticity using flavonoids profile: Relation with their biological properties." Food Chem. 2012 Sep 15;134(2):894-904.
    de Sousa, E., et al. “Hypoglycemic effect and antioxidant potential of kaempferol-3,7-O-(alpha)-dirhamnoside from Bauhinia forficata leaves.” J. Nat. Prod. 2004; 67(5): 829-32.

    Antivenin Actions:
    Oliveira, C.Z., et al. “Anticoagulant and antifibrinogenolytic properties of the aqueous extract from Bauhinia forficata against snake venoms.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Apr; 98(1-2): 213-6.
    Vasconcelos, F., et al. “Insulin-like effects of Bauhinia forficata aqueous extract upon Tityus serrulatus scorpion envenoming.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec; 95(2-3): 385-92.

    Non-Toxic Actions:
    Damasceno, D. C., et al. “Effect of Bauhinia forficata extract in diabetic pregnant rats: maternal repercussions.” Phytomedicine. 2004; 11(2-3): 196-201.
    Pepato, M. T., et al. “Evaluation of toxicity after one-months treatment with Bauhinia forficata decoction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.” BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2004 Jun 8; 4: 7.

    Antileukemic Actions:
    Lim, H., et al. “Inhibition of cell-cycle progression in HeLa cells by HY52, a novel cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor isolated from Bauhinia forficata.” Cancer Lett. 2006 Feb; 233(1): 89-97.

    Antihistamine Actions:
    Kotani, M., et al. “Persimmon leaf extract and astragalin inhibit development of dermatitis and IgE elevation in NC/Nga mice.” J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2000 Jul; 106(1 Pt 1): 159-66.

    Constituents Identified:
    Pinheiro, T. S., et al. "Comparative assessment of kaempferitrin from medicinal extracts of Bauhinia forficata Link." J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 2006 May; 41(2):431-6.
    Faria, R. A., et al. "Biochemical and chemical partial characterization of Bauhinia forficata Link seeds." Arch. Latinoam. Nutr. 2004 Sep; 54(3): 349-53.
    da Silva, K. L., et al. "Phytochemical and pharmacognositc investigation of Bauhinia forficata Link (Leguminosae)." Z. Naturforsch. 2000; 55(5-6): 478-80.



    * 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.




    © Copyrighted 1996 to present by Leslie Taylor, Milam County, TX 77857.
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    Last updated 12-29-2012