The herb Embauba may traditionallybe used as a cough suppressant, anti-asthmatic, a decongestant, an anti spasmodic and a cardiotonicEMBAUBA

Family: Cecrop iaceae

Genus: Cecropia

Species: palmata, peltata, obtusifolia

Synonyms: Cecropia schreberiana, C. amphichlora, C. arachnoidea, C. asperrima, C. concolor, C. dielsiana, C. hondurensis, C. mexicana, C. pachystachya, C. scabrifolia, C. surinamensis, Ambaiba palmata

Common Names: Embauba, imbauba, umbauba, trumpet tree, bois canon, bois trompette, grayumbe, grayumbo, trompette, trompettier, yagruma, yagrumo, akowa, chancarpo, chancarro, guarumbo, guarumo, hormigo, hormiguillo, snakewood tree, pop-a-gun, tree-of-laziness, trompetenbaum, yaluma, certico, ambiabo, ambai, tree-of-sandpaper, palo lija

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag

Part Used: Leaves

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • relieves asthma
  • dries secretions
  • reduces spasms
  • increases urination
Infusion: 1 cup 2-3 times daily
  • reduces inflammation
  • stimulates menstruation
Capsules: 2-3 g twice daily
  • kills bacteria
  • mildly laxative
  • kills fungi
  • depresses central
  • fights free radicals
nervous system
  • relieves pain
  • strengthens heart
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces blood sugar

Embauba is native to Central and South America and the West Indies. It is a fast-growing, short-lived tree that springs up along riverbanks (where its seeds are deposited after annual flooding). It has large leaves (a foot wide) with a hollow stem, and bears a cylindrical fruit with soft, sweet flesh around many small seeds. The tree, growing 5-10 m tall, often is inhabited by stinging ants that are attracted to the honey-like sap produced by the leaves. The symbiotic relationship with the ants is thought to protect the tree from leaf-eating insects. There are many closely-related Cecropia species (including C. peltata, C. palmata, and C. obtusifolia) that may have different geographical locations yet all are very similar in appearance, chemical makeup, and traditional medicinal uses. Cecropia trees (nearly 100 tropical species in South and Latin America) are propagated by the many small fruit seeds they produce – bats, monkeys, and birds eat the succulent fruit and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Often, it can form dense stands of trees that choke the growth of other plants anywhere that the canopy is disturbed.


Indian tribes in the Amazon use embauba for its anti-inflammatory properties-typically for rheumatic, kidney and lung inflammations. The leaf is made into a tea and used widely for asthma and other upper respiratory complaints, as well as for diabetes. It also has been used for sores on the mouth and tongue. The Palikur indigenous people of Guyana wrap the large leaves around bone fractures, bruises and wounds, and use embauba to disinfect the genitalia and alleviate pain after childbirth.

In herbal medicine systems, embauba is used widely throughout Central and South America. In Brazil it is used for all types of respiratory complaints (such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs, whooping cough, and pneumonia). It is also used for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disorders, high blood pressure, and to increase the contraction strength of the heart muscle. It is considered effective against Parkinson disease in Colombia, where it also is used as a substitute for digitalis-containing plants (for heart problems), and to facilitate childbirth and menstruation. The leaf is used in Guatemalan herbal medicine systems for asthma, edema, rheumatism, diabetes, fever, atherosclerosis, and gonorrhea. The plant is popular in Mexico, where it is used for diabetes, coughs, inflammation, diarrhea, bladder irritation, asthma, obesity, liver disorders, high blood pressure, and warts.

In Cuba, virtually every part of the plant is employed in herbal medicine. The latex is considered corrosive and astringent, and is used topically against warts, calluses, herpes (and other venereal diseases), and skin ulcers. The bark is used to reduce mucus; the roots for bile complaints; and the fruit is considered emollient (soothing and softening the skin). The leaves are considered to reduce pain, and are used for asthma, liver disorders, edema and to promote menstruation. In other parts of Latin America and the Amazon, it is often touted as a “cure” for asthma after only a few weeks of taking a tea brewed from its leaves. (This has not been confirmed with any clinical research, however).


Little research has been done to determine individual phytochemicals in embauba. In general, it is known to contain glycosides, lipids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardenolids, triterpenes, polyphenols, steroids, and resins. A recent (2002) U.S. patent named ambain (a glycoside) and cecropin (an alkaloid) as the active plant chemicals in embauba that have cardiotonic and diuretic properties. The flavonoids and proanthocyanidins in embauba recently were reported to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) in vitro. (ACE-inhibitors represent a class of pharmaceutical drugs used for hypertension which promote vasodilation and act as a diuretic.) The traditional use of embauba for high blood pressure might be explained if these chemicals can be demonstrated to inhibit ACE in humans and animals.

Main plant chemicals in embauba include: ambain, arachidic acid, behenic acid, cecropin, cerotic acid, chlorogenic acid, isoorientin, leucocyanidin, lignoceric acid, polysaccharides, proanthocyanidins, stearic acid, and ursolinic acid.


Preliminary research is just beginning to explain and verify some of embauba’s many uses in traditional medicine. Animal studies (with mice, rats, and guinea pigs) have shown that leaf extracts have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic activities — which may explain, in part, its widespread traditional use in respiratory disorders. Cuban researchers, however, reported that leaf infusions did not evidence any bronchodilator activity (in guinea pigs. Other animal research has indicated that the plant can increase urination and lower blood pressure. One study reported that it increased urine flow in rats by 20 percent — without affecting the excretion of sodium and potassium. Two different research groups (in Costa Rica and Mexico) reported that leaf extracts reduced blood pressure in rats.

Another of embauba’s traditional uses has been for diabetes. This use also has been studied in animals and verified by researchers. Water extracts of the leaf given to mice and rats were shown to lower blood sugar levels in two studies; a hot water extract given to rabbits and dogs elicited the same blood sugar-lowering effect. One of these research groups attributed the hypoglycemic effect of the leaf, in part, to two flavone chemicals in embauba (isoorientin and chlorogenic acid) which, when tested individually, also demonstrated hypoglycemic activity in rats. Animal studies confirm the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and antispasmodic properties of embauba.

Embauba has been reported to have in vitro antibacterial activity against various bacteria (such as Staphylococcus, E. coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, and Shigella). Water extracts seemed to have much more biological activity against bacteria than methanol or ethanol extracts in vitro. An ethanol extract of the leaf and stem was reported to have in vitro antifungal activity, but water extracts were inactive (which suggests that antibacterial actions are derived from different chemicals than those providing antifungal actions). Embauba has also shown antioxidant activity with potent free-radical scavenging action. In 2002 a U.S. patent was filed on various embauba extracts for use in cosmetics and dermatology. The patent reported the extracts had “pronounced action on lipolysis (fat-burning) which make them useful in slimming preparations, but also owing to their tightening effect, their smoothing properties and the improvement of the radiance of the skin.”


It is hoped that researchers will continue to study embauba and validate more of its traditional uses – in particular, its use in respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. In the meantime, healthcare practitioners and herbalists around the world are utilizing this plant for not only respiratory disorders, but also for its cardiotonic and hypotensive properties, antidiabetic activity, and for its (yet-to-be-studied) use in Parkinson’s disease. Generally, for upper respiratory problems and asthma; a standard leaf infusion is prepared and taken in 1 cup dosages 2-3 times daily. To help balance blood sugar levels, a cup of a leaf infusion is taken with each meal.

Main Preparation Method: infusionMain Actions (in order):
cough suppressant, anti-asthmatic, decongestant, antispasmodic, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart) Main Uses: 

  1. for asthma
  2. for upper respiratory problems (coughs, bronchitis, COPD, emphysema, pulmonary sarcoidosis)
  3. for upper respiratory bacterial and viral infections
  4. for high blood pressure
  5. for Parkinson’s disease

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
ACE-inhibitor (typically lowers blood pressure), analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antispasmodic, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), diuretic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
anti-asthmatic, antihemorrhagic (reduces bleeding), antiseptic, antivenin, antiviral, astringent, cough suppressant, central nervous system depressant, decongestant, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestive stimulant, expectorant, hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver), laxative, menstrual stimulant, wound healer

Cautions: It may increase the effect of diabetic and high blood pressure drugs.







Traditional Preparation: Traditionally, 1/2 to 1 cup of a standard leaf infusion is taken two to three times daily. If desired, 2-3 grams of powdered leaf in tablets or capsules twice daily can be substituted.


Embauba has a traditional use of aiding childbirth and to promote menstruation. It should not be taken during pregnancy.

The plant has been reported in animal studies to have cardiotonic properties, increasing the strength of cardiac muscle contraction. It should not be used by anyone with a cardiac disorder unless monitored by a medical doctor. Embauba also has demonstrated hypotensive activity in animal studies. Those with low blood pressure or those on medication to lower their blood pressure should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional prior to using this plant.

Embauba has demonstrated a hypoglycemic effect in animals. It is contraindicated for persons with hypoglycemia. Diabetics should use this plant with caution as blood sugar levels should be monitored closely.

Drug Interactions: None reported in literature; however, embauba may potentiate cardiotonics (such as digitalis) as well as antihypertensive and ACE-inhibitor drugs. It may potentiate anti-diabetic and insulin drugs.

Amazonia for asthma, bruises, childbirth, diabetes, fractures, inflammation, kidney problems, respiratory difficulties, rheumatic diseases, sores, wounds
Brazil for asthma, bleeding, bronchitis, cancer, Chagas disease, cough, congestion, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, flu, gonorrhea, heart problems, hemorrhages, hemorrhoids, hypertension, liver support, malaria, Parkinson’s disease, pneumonia, respiratory disorders, rheumatism, snakebite, ulcers, urinary insufficiency, urinary tract disorders, vaginal discharge, warts, wounds, and as an expectorant
Colombia for childbirth, heart problems, menstrual difficulties, Parkinson’s disease
Costa Rica for arterial hypertension, urinary insufficiency
Cuba for abscesses, aches, asthma, bile diseases, calluses, coughs, digestive, diuretic, dysentery, edema, fever, gonorrhea, heart conditions, herpes, liver disorders, pains, skin problems, ulcers, venereal disease, warts
Guatemala for asthma, atherosclerosis, heart support, diabetes, edema, fever, gonorrhea, hypertension, rheumatism, urinary insufficiency, and to promote perspiration
Mexico for asthma, bladder problems, bites (scorpion, ants), burns, calluses, childbirth, chorea, corns, coughs, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, fever, fractures, heart support, hepatitis, inflammation, liver support, nerve disorders, obesity, pulmonary problems, renal disorders, ulcers, urinary insufficiency, warts, wounds
Nicaragua for abscesses, aches, coughs, diarrhea, digestive problems, fever, gastric, headache, intestinal disorders, liver support, pain, skin problems
Peru for bleeding, diarrhea, energy, fever, heart support, Parkinson’s disease, water retention, wounds
Trinidad for bronchitis, cough, fever, flu, scorpion bite, snakebite
U.S. for asthma, bronchitis, constipation, fungal infections, heart support, menstrual irregularities, pain, water retention
Venezuela for constipation, heart support, inflammation, wounds
Elsewhere for abscesses, aches, asthma, bronchitis, calluses, cancer, childbirth, corns, coughs, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive problems, dysentery, edema, fever, flu, fractures, gonorrhea, heart support, hematoma, hepatitis, herpes, hypertension, liver support, menstrual disorders, nerves, obesity, pain, scorpion bite, skin problems, snakebite, venereal disease, water retention, warts, wounds, and as an antiseptic


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.

Third-Party Published Research on Embauba

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

Carbajal, D., et al. “Pharmacological screening of plant decoctions commonly used in Cuban folk medicine.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1991; 33: 21–4.

Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Muscle-Relaxant & Pain-relieving Actions:

Perea Guerrero, C., et al. “A pharmacological study of Cecropia obtusifolia Bertol. aqueous extract.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2001; 76(3): 279–84.

Feng, P. C., et al. “Pharmacological screening of some West Indian medicinal plants.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1962; 14: 556–61.

Antimicrobial Actions:

Rojas, J. J., et al. “Screening for antimicrobial activity of ten medicinal plants used in Colombian folkloric medicine: A possible alternative in the treatment of non-nosocomial infections.” BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2006 Feb; 6(1): 2.

Zavala, M. A., et al. “Antimicrobial screening of some medicinal plants.” Phytother. Res. 1997; 11(5): 368–71.

Lopez Abraham, A. N., et al. “Potential antineoplastic activity of Cuban plants.” Rev. Cubana Farm. 1981; 15(1): 71–7.

Misas, C. A. J., et al. “Contribution to the biological evaluation of Cuban plants. I.” Rev. Cub. Med. Trop. 1979; 31: 5.

Hypoglycemic & Anti-diabetic Actions:

Lans, C. A. “Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus.” J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomedicine. 2006 Oct 13; 2: 45.

Andrade-Cetto, A., et al. “Disease-Consensus Index as a tool of selecting potential hypoglycemic plants in Chikindzonot, Yucatan, Mexico.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep; 107(2): 199-204.

Nicasio, P., et al. “Hypoglycemic effect and chlorogenic acid content in two Cecropia species.” Phytother. Res. 2005; 19(8): 661-4.

Andrade-Cetto, A., et al. “Mexican plants with hypoglycaemic effect used in the treatment of diabetes.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jul; 99(3): 325-48.

Herrera-Arellano, A., et al. “Clinical trial of Cecropia obtusifolia and Marrubium vulgare leaf extracts on blood glucose and serum lipids in type 2 diabetics.” Phytomedicine. 2004 Nov; 11(7-8): 561-6.

Andrade-Cetto, A., et al. “Hypoglycemic effect of Cecropia obtusifolia on streptozotocin diabetic rats.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2001; 78(2–3): 145–9.

Raman-Ramos, R., et al. “Experimental study of hypoglycemic activity of some antidiabetic plants.” Arch. Invest. Med. 1991; 22(1): 87–93.

Mellado, V., et al. “Effect of the aqueous extract of Cecropia obtusifolia on the blood sugar of normal and pancreatectomized dogs.” Int. J. Crude Drug Res. 1984; 22(1): 11–16.

Perez, R. M., et al. “A study of the hypoglycemic effect of some Mexican plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1984; 12(3): 253–62.

Hypotensive & Heart Tonic Actions:

Ramos Almeida, R., et al. “Activity of Cecropia extract on contractility of cardiac and smooth muscles in wistar rats.” Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 2006 Jan; 33(1-2): 109-13.

Consolini, A. E., et al. “Cardiotonic and sedative effects of Cecropia pachystachya Mart. (ambay) on isolated rat hearts and conscious mice.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jun 15; 106(1): 90-6.

Consolini, A. E., et al. “Cardiovascular effects of the South American medicinal plant Cecropia pachystachya (ambay) on rats.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan; 96(3): 417-22

Lacaille-Dubois., et al. “Search for potential angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors from plants.” Phytomedicine. 2001; 8(1): 47–52.

Salas, I., et al. “Antihypertensive effect of Cecropia obtusifolia (Moraceae) leaf extract on rats.” Rev. Biol. Trop. 1987; 35(1): 127–30.

Vidrio, H., et al. “Hypotensive activity of Cecropia obtusifolia.” J. Pharm. Sci. 1982; 71(4): 475–6.

Diuretic Actions:

Vargas Howell, R., et al. “Diuretic effect of Cecropia obtusifolia (Moraceae) on albino rats.” Rev. Biol. Trop. 1996; 44(1): 93–6.

Antioxidant & Wound-Healing Actions:

Nayak, B. S. et al. “Cecropia peltata L (Cecropiaceae) has wound-healing potential: a preclinical study in a Sprague Dawley rat model.” Int. J. Low Extrem. Wounds. 2006 Mar; 5(1): 20-6.

Desmarchelier, C. J., et al. “Pharmacological activity of South American plants: effects on spontaneous in vivo lipid peroxidation.” Phytother. Res. 2003; 17(1): 80-2.

Velazquez, E., et al. “Antioxidant activity of Paraguayan plant extracts.” Fitoterapia. 2003; 74(1–2): 91–7.

Anti-anxiety Actions:

Rocha, F. F., et al. “Evaluation of the anxiolytic-like effects of Cecropia glazioui Sneth in mice.” Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 2002; 71(1-2): 183-90.

Ingredients: 100% pure embauba leaves (Cecropia sp). No binders, fillers or additives are used. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Brazilian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as an infusion (tea): Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Pour boiling water over herb in cup and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain tea (or allow settled powder to remain in the bottom of cup) and drink warm. It is traditionally taken in 1 cup amounts, 2-3 times daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal infusions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.


Not to be taken during pregnancy.

Embauba has demonstrated hypotensive activity in animal studies. It is probably contraindicated in persons with low blood pressure.

Embauba has demonstrated a hypoglycemic effect in animals and humans. It is contraindicated for persons with hypoglycemia. Diabetics should use this plant with caution as blood sugar levels should be monitored closely.

Drug Interactions: None reported in the literature; however, embauba may enhance the effect of blood pressure drugs and anti-diabetic drugs.

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