Huacapu is purported to be antivirul,antitumorous, antiparasitic, analgesic and anti-inflammatoryHUACAPU

Family: Olacaceae

Taxon: Minquartia guianensis Aubl.

Synonyms: Minquartia punctata, Minquartia macrophylla, Minquartia parifolia, Eganthus poeppigii, Endusa punctata, Secretania loranthacea

Common Names: acaiguara, acapu, acapú, acariguara, acarioba, acary, ahumado, aracuiba, aralta, arekuma, arratt, arratta, black manwood, black manu, bois agouti, caricuara negra, criollo, cuyubi, eur-a-grai, fierro caspi, guacuri de cangrejo, guayacan nego, guayacan pechiche, huacapo, huacapu, huacapú amarillo, huacapú negro, huacapú, ironwood, konbaut, kobakedive, makka, manu, manu platano, manwood, minche, mincouart, naaméhe, pechiche, puya caspi, puyaquiro, tomopio, urari, vacaricuana, wamania, wanania, yandira, yandiroba, zujugue

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=100]

Parts Used: Bark

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • kills viruses
  • kills malaria parasite
  • kills cancer cells
  • kills leishmania parasite
Decoction: 1/2 cup twice daily
  • kills bacteria
Tincture: 5 ml daily
  • reduces inflammation
  • relieves pain
  • expels worms
  • heals wounds

Huacapu is a huge canopy tree that can be found throughout the Amazon rainforest. It grows as far north as Nicaragua and Panama and can also be found in the rainforests of Costa Rica. Huacapu can grow up 25 meters high (8 stories high!) with a straight broad trunk up to 120 cm in diameter. The tree has a thin and fissured bark with many holes and it exudes a white latex when cut. Its leaves are 10-16 cm long by 4-6 cm wide and waxy in appearance. The huacapu tree blooms mainly during June and July with cascades of cream colored flowers on peduncles. Then it produces an oval drupe-like fruit with a single seed inside that is enjoyed by humans and animals alike. Fruits are dispersed in the forest by birds, bats and small rodents.

The huacapu tree is considered one of the most durable, heaviest, and hardest tropical woods of the Amazon. The tree is largely exploited and extracted by the timber and logging industries for lumber and house construction materials. It is commonly used by local inhabitants as foundation house poles since it is heavy, straight and rot-resistant. It has been so heavily logged in Costa Rica for construction materials, that it now appears on their local endangered species list.


The Indian tribes in the Amazon sometimes use huacapu bark as a fish poison. The Waorani and Ketchwa tribes in Ecuador pound the bark until it is bruised and then put it into small streams and ponds where it stuns the fish and they can be easily collected on the top of the water. The bark is also often used as a malaria remedy, as well as for tuberculosis, hepatitis, and rheumatism by various Indian communities in the Amazon. The outer bark is considered “too strong a medicine” therefore, more often, the inner bark is used when preparing remedies for humans.

In herbal medicine systems in Ecuador huacapu bark is prepared as a decoction and used as a respected remedy for herpes, lung cancer, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. It is also used for intestinal worms and parasites, muscular pain, and externally for skin irritations. The pulverized bark of huacapu is also used externally as a poultice for sore limbs, sore kidneys and skin problems.

In Peruvian herbal medicine systems huacapu is employed for many of the same conditions. An infusion or decoction of the bark is highly regarded for hepatitis, malaria, herpes, and rheumatism. It is also used for leishmaniasis (a tropical parasitic disease carried by sand flies), and used externally on lacerations and wounds. A common remedy for rheumatism is to macerate 200 grams of huacapu bark in a liter of alcohol for 7-10 days (a tincture). It is taken in tablespoon dosages each day for 15 days.


Huacapu bark contains triterpenes, xanthones, lipids, tannins, and acids. The main bioactive chemical in the bark is a lipid called minquartynoic acid. This plant chemical has been the subject of research and various scientists have reported that it is cytotoxic to a large diverse line of cancer cells including human lung cancer cell lines, ovarian, colon and neuroblastoma cancer cell lines. Another research group reported it passed the initial screening test for antitumor activity as well as demonstrated actions against the malaria and leishmania parasites. A research group reported in 2000 that minquartynoic acid demonstrated effective anti-viral actions against the HIV virus at as little as 2.2 mcg/ml which might explain why the tree bark has been so popularly used for other virus like hepatitis and herpes.

Chemical documented thus far in huacapu bark include: 3-beta-acetoxy-13-beta-28-epoxy-olean-11-ene, betulin myristate, betulin palmitate, betulin stearate, erythrodiol myristate, erythrodiol oleate, erythrodiol palmitate, erythrodiol stearate, lichexanthone, minquartynoic acid, and squalene.


The research on huacapu to date is quite preliminary since scientists now seem more focused on its main bioactive chemical instead. Researchers in the United States first reported in 1988 and 1989 that a water extract of huacapu bark passed the initial antitumor screening test, as well as an in vitro cell culture test against cancer cells in amounts less than 4 mcg/ml. This was reconfirmed by a European research group who published similar reports in 2003 and 2004. In earlier research in 1996 researchers reported that a methanol extract of huacapu bark demonstrated antibacterial actions against two antibiotic-resistant strains of Staphylococcus, as well as Pseudomonas and Bacillus


While little research on the tree bark exists, research has been more forthcoming on huacapu’s main active plant chemical which is documented with antimalarial, antiviral, antumoral, and antibacterial actions. The actions of minquartynoic acid do help to explain and support huacapu’s main traditional uses for microbial diseases such as herpes, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, for lung cancer, and malaria. The tree bark is a significant source of this highly active plant chemical. Huacapu is quite popular in Ecuador and Peru, however it is not very well known here in the U.S; only one or two products are available for purchase in the American herbal market.

Main Actions (in order):
antiviral, antitumoral, antiparasitic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory
Main Uses:


  1. for viral infections (herpes, hepatitis, etc.)
  2. for cancer
  3. for intestinal parasites and worms
  4. as a pain-reliever for rheumatism, arthritis and other muscular pains
  5. as an antiseptic wound healer

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic (malaria, leishmania), antitumoralProperties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
analgesic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antitumorous, antiviral, purgative, vermifuge, vulnerary

Cautions: None reported.


Traditional Preparation: Huacapu bark is traditionally prepared in infusions and decoctions. However, for rheumatism and muscle pain, it is traditionally prepared as an alcohol tincture. The bark is a source of tannins that have been used to dye clothing. Practitioners report using the bark in tinctures and decoctions can cause dark-colored stools which is normal and due to the tannin content of the bark.

Contraindications: None known. Large dosages are reported to have a laxative or purgative effect.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

Peru as a purgative; for confusion, hepatitis, herpes, lacerations, leishmaniasis, malaria, rheumatism

The above text has been authored by Leslie Taylor, ND and copyrighted © 2006. 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.

Published Third-Party Research on Huacapu

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

Marles, R. J., et al. “Isolation of a novel cytotoxic polyacetylene from a traditional anthelmintic medicinal plant, Minquartia guianensis.” J. Nat. Prod. 1989; 52(2): 261-266.

Ito, A., et al. “Cytotoxic polyacetylenes from the twigs of Ochanostachys amentacea.” J. Nat. Prod. 2001; 64(2): 246-248.

Farnsworth, N. R., et al. “Isolation of a novel cytotoxic polyacetylene from a traditional anthelmintic medicinal plant: Minquartia guianensis Aubl. (Olacaceae). Abstr International Congress on Natural Products Research Park City, UT July 17-21 1988: Abstr-22 .

Quignard, E. L. J., et al. “Screening of plants found in Amazonas state for lethality towards brine shrimp.” Acta Amazonica. 2003; 33(1): 93-104.

Quignard, E. L. J., et al. “Medium lethal concentrations of amazonian plant extracts in the brine shrimp assay.” Pharmaceutical Biology. 2004; 42(3): 253-257.

Rasmussem, H. B., et al. “Absolute configuration and antiprotozoal activity of minquartynoic acid.” J. Nat. Prod. 2000; 63(9): 1295-1296.

Antiparasitic Actions (malaria & leishmania):

Rasmussem, H. B., et al. “Absolute configuration and antiprotozoal activity of minquartynoic acid.” J. Nat. Prod. 2000; 63(9): 1295-1296.

Antimicrobial Actions (virus & bacteria):

Rashid, M. A., et al. “Absolute stereochemistry and anti-HIV activity of minquartynoic acid, a polyacetylene from Ochanostachys amentacea.” Nat Prod. Lett. 2001; 15(1): 21-26 .

El-Seedi, H. R., et al. “Triterpenes, lichexanthone and an acetylenic acid from Minquartia guianensis.” Phytochemistry. 1994; 35 (5): 1297-1299.

Jovel, E. M., et al. “An ethnobotanical study of the traditional medicine of the Mestizo people of Suni Mirano, Loreto, Peru.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1996; 53: 149-156.


10. “Minquartia guianensis Aubl. Olacaceae. “Huacapu”, “Fierro caspi”, “Ironwood”. Wood one of the best for posts, beams, dormers, bridges, supports; also used for parquets and handicrafts. High quality wood said to last 30 years, even in contact with the ground. Fruit edible (RVM). “Ketchwa” and “Waorani” use pounded bark as fish POISON (SAR).”

Ecuador as an anthelmintic; for hepatitis, herpes, intestinal parasites, lung cancer, malaria, muscular pain, skin irritations, sore kidneys, sore limbs, tuberculosis, worms

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