Chuchuhuasi is purported to be an anti inflamatory for arthritis, rheumatism and back painCHUCHUHUASI POWDER

Family: Celastraceae

Genus: Maytenus

Species: krukovii

Synonyms: Maytenus ebenifolia, M. laevis, M. macrocarpa, M. multiflora, M. terapotensis, Celastrus macrocarpus, Haenkea macrocarpa, H. multiflora

Common Names: Chuchuhuasi, chucchu huashu, chuchuasi, chuchasha, chuchuhuasha

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=77]

Parts Used: Bark, root, leaves

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • reduces inflammation
  • kills cancer cells
  • relieves pain
  • prevents tumors
Decoction: 1 cup 2-3 times daily
  • relaxes muscles
  • stimulates digestion
Tincture: 3-5 ml 2-3 times daily
  • enhances immunity
  • increases libido
  • supports adrenals

Chuchuhuasi is an enormous canopy tree of the Amazon rainforest that grows to 30 m high. It has large leaves (10-30 cm), small, white flowers, and extremely tough, heavy, reddish-brown bark. Several botanical names have been given to this species of tree. It is referenced as Maytenus krukovii, M. ebenifolia, M. laevis, and M. macrocarpa; all botanical names refer to the same tree. Chuchuhausi is indigenous to the tropical rainforests of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.


Indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest have been using the bark of chuchuhuasi medicinally for centuries. Its Peruvian name, chuchuhuasi, means “trembling back,” which refers to its long-standing use for arthritis, rheumatism, and back pain. One local Indian remedy for arthritis and rheumatism calls for one cup of a bark decoction taken three times a day for more than a week. Local people and villagers along the Amazon believe that chuchuhuasi is an aphrodisiac and tonic, and the bark soaked in the local sugarcane rum (aguardiente) is a popular jungle drink that is even served in bars and to tourists (its often called “go-juice” to relieve pain and muscle aches and to “keep going” during long treks in the rainforest). Local healers and curanderos in the Amazon use chuchuhuasi as a general tonic, to speed healing and, when combined with other medicinal plants, as a synergist for many types of illnesses. In Colombia, the Siona Indians boil a small piece of the bark (5 cm) in 2 liters of water until 1 liter remains, and drink it for arthritis and rheumatism. In the Ecuadorian rainforest, the Quijos Quichua Indians prepare a bark decoction for general aches and pains, rheumatism, sore muscles, menstrual pain, and stomachaches.

In the Peruvian Amazon, chuchuhuasi is still considered the best remedy for arthritis among both city and forest dwellers. It is also used as a muscle relaxant, aphrodisiac, and pain-reliever, for adrenal support, as an immune stimulant, and for menstrual balance and regulation. In Peruvian herbal medicine systems, chuchuhuasi alchohol extracts are used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and menstrual irregularities and pain.


Chuchuhausi is a powerhouse of plant chemicals-mostly triterpenes, favonols, and sesquiterpene alkaloids. Two of the more well-known chemicals in chuchuhuasi are mayteine and maytansine – alkaloids long documented (since the 1960s) with antitumor activitity and which occur in other Maytenus plants as well. While these chemicals are found in chuchuhuasi, they don’t occur in high enough amounts to really be therapeutic for cancer however. Another rainforest Maytenus plant, espinheira santa (also featured in this book), is a much better source of these anticancerous chemicals. Other novel compounds found only in chuchuhuasi thus far include dammarane- and friedelane-type triterpenes, which are considered to be some of the plant’s active constituents.

The main plant chemicals found in chuchuhuasi include: agarofuran sesquiterpenes, canophyllol, catechin tannins, dammarane triterpenes, dulcitol, ebenifoline alkaloids, euojaponine alkaloids, friedelan triterpenes, krukovine triterpenes, laevisine alkaloids, macrocarpin triterpenes, maytansine, mayteine, maytenin, mebeverine, phenoldienones, pristimeran, proanthocyanidins, and tingenone (and its derivatives).


Chuchuhuasi’s long history of use has fueled much clinical interest in the research community. In the 1960s, an American pharmaceutical company discovered potent immune-stimulating properties of a leaf extract and a bark extract, documenting that it increased phagocytosis (the ability of immune cells to attack bacteria and foreign cells) in mice. Researchers in 1977 reported that alcohol extracts of the bark evidenced anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in various studies with mice, which validated chuchuhuasi’s traditional uses for arthritic pain. Its anti-inflammatory action again was reported in the 1980s by an Italian research group. They reported that this activity (in addition to radiation protectant and antitumor properties) were at least partially linked to triterpenes and antioxidant chemicals isolated in the trunk bark.

In 1993, a Japanese research group isolated another group of novel alkaloids in chuchuhuasi that may be responsible for its effectiveness in treating arthritis and rheumatism. In the United States, a pharmaceutical company studying chuchuhuasi’s anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties determined that these alkaloids can effectively inhibit enzyme production of protein kinase C (PKC). PKC inhibitors have attracted much interest worldwide, as there is evidence that too much PKC enzyme is involved in a wide variety of disease processes (including arthritis, asthma, brain tumors, cancer, and cardiovascular disease). A Spanish research team found more new phytochemicals in 1998, one of which was cited as having activity against aldose reductase. (This enzyme is implicated in nerve damage in diabetic patients.)

In the mid-1970s, Italian researchers tested a chuchuhuasi extract against skin cancers and identified its antitumorous properties. They attributed these effects to two chemicals in chuchuhuasi called tingenone and pristimerin. Three groups found new and different sesquiterpene compounds in 1999, two of which showed marginal antitumor activity against four cell lines, and one of which was documented as effective against leishmaniasis (a tropical parasitic disease). Other researchers found four more chemicals in the roots of chuchuhuasi (named macrocarpins) in 2000-three of which were documented as cytotoxic to four tumor cell lines.


If the constituents in chuchuhuasi responsible for inhibiting PKC can be synthesized, it is possible that a new arthritis drug will be developed. In the meantime, the natural bark of this important Amazon rainforest tree will continue to be an effective natural herbal remedy for arthritis, for adrenal support and as an immune tonic as it has been for centuries. It is best prepared as it has been traditionally: as an alcohol tincture or a decoction. It normally takes about 3-4 days of daily use to get a beneficial effect for arthritic pain, and up to a month or longer of daily use is necessary for adrenal support.

Main Preparation Method: tinctureMain Actions (in order):
muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-reliever), menstrual stimulant, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions) Main Uses: 

  1. as an analgesic (pain-reliever), a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory for arthritis, rheumatism, and back pain
  2. as an aphrodisiac for loss of libido (male and female)
  3. to cool and balance adrenal function
  4. to tone, balance, and strengthen female hormonal systems and for menstrual disorders, libido loss, menstrual pain and cramps
  5. as a general tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions) and mild immune stimulant

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
aldose reductase inhibitor (linked to diabetic complications), analgesic (pain-reliever), anticancerous, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumorous, immune stimulant, protein kinase C inhibitor (linked to inflammation processes)Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
adrenal tonic (tones, balances, strengthens the adrenals), antidysenteric, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, digestive stimulant, febrifuge (reduces fever), menstrual stimulant, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions)

Cautions: none







Traditional Preparation: Traditionally, 2-3 cups daily of a standard bark decoction or 3-5 ml of a standard tincture three times daily is used for this rainforest remedy.

Contraindications: None reported.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

Colombia as a pain-reliever and aphrodisiac and for arthritis, rheumatism
Ecuador for aches (menstrual, muscles), arthritis, fever, pain, rheumatism, stomachache, tumors (skin), and as an aphrodisiac
Peru for aches (back, muscles), influenza, arthritis, bronchitis, cancer, diarrhea, dysentery, gastrointestinal disease, hemorrhoids, impotency, inflammation, menstrual disorders, nausea, osteoarthritis, pain, rheumatism, tumors, virility, and as an aphrodisiac


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

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† 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 on Chuchuhuasi

3. “ACTIONS: Adrenal support, Libido enhancer, Rheumatism, Fortifies immune system.

TRADITIONAL USE: As an alcoholic infusion, it is used to relieve symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Chuchuhuasi is a popular jungle remedy. Useful as a muscle relaxant, effective in breaking up and dispersing lactic acid. People along the Amazon believe Chuchuhuasi enhances virility. It is recognized as a general reconstituent. Supportive to adrenal function.

MERIDIAN INDICATIONS: General Yang tonic, Opens Triple Warmer Meridian / especially Lower Burner, Dispels cold, Increases Kidney Yang.

EAV POINTS: Bladder 65, Triple Warmer, Adrenal”

12. “The bark of chuchuhuasi is famous in western Amazonia, where it is more commonly used by people in the urban centers. It seems they now regard it more highly than do the Indians in remote areas, perhaps because of the ailments they suffer and apply it to. The most common use in this region is for rheumatism. To prepare the herb for pain, the bark is soaked overnight in cane liquor, and the resulting tincture is drunk. In Colombia, the Siona Indians take a “piece of the trunk” (5 cm) and boil it in water (two liters) until the decoction reduces to half. To “cure” arthritis and rheumatism, they take “a small cupful” three times a day for a week. They also regard the decoction as a stimulant. In the lowland rain forest of eastern Ecuador, the Quijos Quichua Indians use the stem-bark of chucchu huashu (trembling back). A decoction of chucchu huashu (Maytenus krukovii A.C. Smith) is taken for rheumatism, aching muscles, menstrual aches, stomach aches, and general aching. For rheumatism, the males occasionally take the herb steeped in alcohol. For a blood-building tonic, the reddish inner bark of this species, which is described as extremely bitter, is chewed or decocted. This is given to patients recovering from tuberculosis or who display a pale complexion, and to those suffering from bronchitis, stomach ache, or fever. No limit is placed on the quantity the patient may drink, but it must be taken before breakfast for a period of one month.”

17. “Tourist shops selling tribal artifacts were opening everywhere, and many of the better bars were beginning to serve some jungle drinks, especially chuchuwasi. That is probably the best known of all jungle remedies, in Colombia as well as Peru. It is also a favorite drink, second only to aguardiente in popularity among men living along the rivers.

Chuchuwasi is prepared by chopping the root bark of a very large tree, Maytenus ebenfolia (Celastraceae), and letting it steep for a week in aguardiente or white rum. The resulting infusion is one of numerous jungle potions known as “aphrodisiacs.” These are reputed to cure male impotence, whether due to age or illness, and to enhance the virility of the healthy. But more important are the claims made for its ability to cure all types of rheumatism, and to act as a general tonic for women as well as men. I have seen it restore to good health two women who had each, for some months, been in a very debilitated state of health from some undiagnosed illness. And I know many people who insist that it is the best of all antirheumatic medicines. I have also heard reports of its curing cancer and, after several months’ dosage, restoring to normal activity an arm paralyzed by long contact with a toxic insecticide.”

21. “Maytenus laevis Reissek, Martius, Fl. Bras. 11, pt. 1 (18 61) 19. coemeni (Kubeo); chuchuhuasca, chuchuguache, chuchuguaza (Col, Peru); SRS 24266; Le Cointe, (1934); Garcia-Barriga (1974-5); Acero, (1979)

The bark of this tree is famous in the western Amazonia as a medicinal for a number of ailments. It is soaked usually overnight in aguardiente which is then drunk as a pain killer-almost always in connection with rheumatism-and as a stimulant. This use is most frequent amongst people living in urban societies; Indians not commonly in communication with more advanced inhabitants usually do not consider this plant to be such an important medicine. However, a species of Maytenus from the Rio Ica in Brazil contains in its aril 0.85% caffeine and is used locally as a diuretic (Fiese, 1935).

According to Garcia-Barriga, the Sionas boil a 5 cm piece of the trunk in two liters of water and reduce the liquid to one liter. This decoction is taken thrice daily over a week-one small cupful each time-to “cure” rheumatism and arthritis. It is also valuable as a stimulant.

22. “Chuchuhuasi (Maytenus macrocarpa (R. & P.) Briq.) is the bark of the trunk or root of a large extremely strong tree that grows in many parts of the Amazon. Several botanical names are given for the same tree (M. macrocarpa=M. laevis=M.ebenifolia).

Chuchuhuasi means “trembling back,” a name that may refer to its most prevalent uses. The bark is commonly soaked in aguardiente rum and taken as a cure for arthritis and rheumatism, and as an aphrodisiac.

In addition to being a treatment for rheumatism and arthritis, in Peru, the bark is boiled to prepare a tea used to treat dysentery, diarrhea, upset stomach, and irregular menstrual perlods. In Colombia, the Siona Indians boil a small piece of the bark (5 cm) in water (2 liters) until one liter remains. To treat arthritis and rheumatism, a cup of the decoction is taken three times a day for more than a week.

During the 1960s, an American pharmaceutical company discovered that when taken orally by mice, the leaf extract produced a potent stimulating effect on the immune system, and phagocytosis was increased to a significant degree. Researchers from the Catholic University in Rome, Italy, learned that the trunk bark is placed in alcohol to make a solution used to treat skin cancer. After analyzing the bark, they noted it contains high amounts of the naturally occurring antitumor substances tingenone and pristimeran, compounds classified as triterpenes.

The constituents responsible for various uses of the tree in folk medicine was the subject of an article by Italian researchers at the Universita Cattolica del S. Cuore in 1982. Extracts of the trunk bark of the Colombian chuchuhuasi (M.Laevis) had shown definite anti-inflammatory activity. Based on constituents found in the root bark, they attributed the antiinflammatory and radiation protectant action of a water extract of the trunk bark to antioxidants, such as catechin tannins and procyanidins. They also deduced that certain triterpenes (tingenone and 22-hydroxytingenone) in chuchuhuasi, having shown antitumor activity, could account for the traditional use of the tree in treatments of skin tumors.

Renewed interest in this intriguing herbal medicine appeared in 1993. Researchers at the Tokyo College of Pharmacy isolated a number of alkaloids from the tree. They note that in Peru the Indians use the “reddish-brown stem bark” soaked in rum (aguardiente) as a tonic extract taken before breakfast to treat rheumatism. Perhaps in a few years we will be hearing about their success at isolating the more active constituents of this famous remedy. In the U.S., Sphinx Pharmaceutical Corporation of Durham, North Carolina, has also shown interest in chuchuhuasi. Their focus is on protein kinase C (PKC)-inhibitory components of the bark of the Ecuadorian chuchuhuasi, Maytenus krukovii. Inhibitors of the PKC enzyme are of great interest today because there is evidence the enzyme, in an over-active state, is involved in a wide array of disease processes. Among the diseases in which PKC may be overtly involved are rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, brain tumors, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.

Third-Party Published Research on Chuchuhuasi

All available third-party research on chuchuhuasi can be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the published research on chuchuhuasi is shown below:

Anti-inflammatory & Pain-Relieving Actions:

Sosa, S., et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of Maytenus senegalensis root extracts and of maytenoic acid.” Phytomedicine. 2007; 14(2-3): 109-14.

Honda, T., et al. “Partial synthesis of krukovines A and B, triterpene ketones isolated from the Brazilian medicinal plant Maytenus krukovii.” J. Nat. Prod. 1997; 60(11): 1174-77.

Morita, H., et al. “Triterpenes from Brazilian medicinal plant “chuchuhuasi” (Maytenus krukovii).” J. Nat. Prod. 1996; 59(11): 1072-75.

Sekar K. V., et al. “Mayteine and 6-benzoyl-6-deacetyl-mayteine from Maytenus krukovii.” Planta Med. 1995; 61: 390.

Bradshaw, D., et al. “Therapeutic potential of protein kinase C inhibitors.” Agents and Actions 1993; 38: 135-47.

Itokawa, H., et al. “Isolation, structural elucidation and conformational analysis of sesquiterpene pyridine alkaloids from Maytenus ebenifolia Reiss. X-ray molecular structure of ebenifoline W-1.” J. Chem. Soc. Perkin. Trans. I 1993; 11: 1247-54.

Itokawa, H., et al. “Oligo-nicotinated sesquiterpene polyesters from Maytenus ilicifolia.” J. Nat. Prod. 1993; 56: 1479-85.

Gonzalez, J. G., et al. “Chuchuhuasha—a drug used in folk medicine in the Amazonian and Andean areas. A chemical study of Maytenus laevis.” J. Ethnopharm. 1982; 5: 73–7

Moya, S., et al. “Phytochemical and pharmacological studies on the antiarthritics of plant origin.” Rev. Colomb. Cienc. Quim. Farm. 1977; 3(2): 5.

Antioxidant Actions:

Bruni, R., et al. “Antimutagenic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Maytenus krukovii bark.” Fitoterapia. 2006 Dec; 77(7-8): 538-45.

Immunostimulant Actions:

Nakagawa, H., et al. “Chemical constituents from the Colombian medicinal plant Maytenus laevis.” J. Nat. Prod. 2004; 67(11): 1919-24.

Moreira, R. R., et al. “Release of intermediate reactive hydrogen peroxide by macrophage cells activated by natural products.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2001; 24(2): 201-4.

Flemming, K. “Increase of phagocytosis activity by Maytenus laevis leaves and Scholler-Tornesch lignine (Porlisan).” Naturwissenschaften. 1965 Jun; 52(12):3 46-7.

Dicarlo F. J., et al. “Protection of mice against gram-positive bacteria with Maytenus laevis and other RES stimulants.” Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 1964 May; 116:195-7.

DiCarlo, F. J., et al. “Reticuloendothelial system stimulants of botanical origin.” Journal of the Reticuloendothelial Society 1964: 224-32.

Antimicrobial Actions:

Bruni, R., et al. “Antimutagenic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Maytenus krukovii bark.” Fitoterapia. 2006 Dec; 77(7-8): 538-45.

Kloucek, P., et al. “Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal barks used in Peruvian Amazon.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007 May; 111(2): 427-9.

Kloucek P, et al. “Antibacterial screening of some Peruvian medicinal plants used in Calleria District.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jun; 99(2): 309-12.

Perez-Victoria, et al. “New natural sesquiterpenes as modulators of daunomycin resistance in a multidrug-resistant Leishmania tropica line.” J. Med. Chem. 1999; 42(1): 4388–93.

Sotanaphun, U., et al. “Antimicrobial activity and stability of tingenone derivatives.” Planta Med. 1999 Jun; 65(5): 450-2.

Martinod, P., et al. “Isolation of tingenone and pristimerin from Maytenus chuchuhuasha.” Phytochemistry 1976; 15: 562–63.

Cytotoxic & Anti-tumorous Actions:

Morita, H., et al. “Antimitotic quinoid triterpenes from Maytenus chuchuhuasca.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2008 Feb 1; 18(3): 1050-2.

Reyes, C., et al. “Biological evaluation, structure-activity relationships, and three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship studies of dihydro-beta-agarofuran sesquiterpenes as modulators of P-glycoprotein-dependent multidrug resistance.” J. Med. Chem. 2007 Oct; 50(20): 4808-17.

Torpooco, V., et al. “New dammarane triterpenes from Maytenus macrocarpa.” Chem. Pharm. Bull. (Tokyo). 2007 May; 55(5): 812-4.

Bruni, R., et al. “Antimutagenic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Maytenus krukovii bark.” Fitoterapia. 2006 Dec; 77(7-8): 538-45.

Nakagawa, H., et al. “Chemical constituents from the Colombian medicinal plant Maytenus laevis.” J. Nat. Prod. 2004; 67(11): 1919-24.

Shirota, O., et al. “Two cangorosin A type triterpene dimers from Maytenus chuchuhuasca.” Chem. Pharm. Bull (Tokyo). 2004; 52(9): 1148-50.

Chavez, H., et al. “Macrocarpins A–D, new cytotoxic nor-triterpenes from Maytenus macrocarpa.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2000; 10(8): 759–62.

Chavez, H., et al. “Sesquiterpene polyol esters from the leaves of Maytenus macrocarpa.” J. Nat. Prod. 1999; 62(11): 1576–77.

Chavez, H., et al. “Friedelane triterpenoids from Maytenus macrocarpa.” J. Nat. Prod. 1998; 61(1): 82–5.

Sekar, K. V., et al. “Mayteine and 6-benzoyl-6-deacetylmayteine from Maytenus krukovii.” Planta Med. 1995 Aug; 61(4): 390.

Shirota, O., et al. “Cytotoxic aromatic triterpenes from Maytenus ilicifolia and Maytenus chuchuhuasca. J. Nat. Prod. 1994; 57(12): 1675-81.

Chemicals Identified:

Shirota, O., et al. “Nine new isoxuxuarine-type triterpene dimers from Maytenus chuchuhuasca.” Chem. Biodivers. 2004 Sep; 1(9): 1296-307.

Ingredients: 100% pure chuchuhuasi bark (Maytenus krukovii). No binders, fillers or additives are used. This product is non-irradiated and non-fumigated. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Peruvian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as a decoction. Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Bring to a boil and gently boil in a covered pot for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and settle for 10 minutes and strain warm liquid into a cup (leaving the settled powder in the bottom of the pan). It is traditionally taken in 1 cup dosages, 2-3 times daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal decoctions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

Contraindications: None reported.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

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