Mutamba purported to be an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant and a hypotensiveMUTAMBA

Family: Sterculiaceae

Genus: Guazuma

Species: ulmifolia

Synonyms: Bubroma guazuma, Diuroglossum rufescens, Theobroma guazuma, Guazuma coriacea, G. inuira, G. polybotra G. tomentosa, G. utilis

Common Names: Mutamba, mutambo, embira, embiru, West Indian elm, guazima, guacima, guacimo, guasima de caballo, aquiche, ajya, guasima, cimarrona, guazuma, bolaina, atadijo, ibixuma, cambá-acã, bay cedar, bois d’homme, bois d’orme, bois de hetre, orme d’Amerique

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=122]

Parts Used: Bark, leaves, root

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • kills bacteria
  • reduces inflammation
  • kills fungi
  • prevents ulcers
Infusion: 1 cup 1-3
  • kills viruses
  • supports heart
times daily
  • kills cancer cells
  • stimulates digestion
Capsules: 2 g twice daily
  • cleanses blood
  • protects liver
Tincture: 2-3 ml twice daily
  • suppresses coughs
  • reduces fever
  • fights free radicals
  • promotes perspiration
  • lowers blood pressure
  • relaxes muscles
  • stops bleeding
  • heals wounds

Mutamba is a medium-sized tree that grows up to 20 m high, with a trunk 30 to 60 cm in diameter. Its oblong leaves are 6 to 12 cm long, and the tree produces small white-to-light-yellow flowers. It produces an edible fruit that is covered with rough barbs and has a strong honey scent. Mutamba is indigenous to tropical America on both continents and found throughout the Amazon rainforest.


Mutamba is called guasima or guacima in Mexico, where it has a very long history of indigenous use. The Mixe Indians in the lowlands of Mexico use a decoction of dried bark and fruit to treat diarrhea, hemorrhages and uterine pain. The Huastec Mayans of northeastern Mexico employ the fresh bark boiled in water to aid in childbirth, for gastrointestinal pain, asthma, diarrhea and dysentery, wounds, and fevers. Mayan healers in Guatemala boil the bark into a decoction to treat stomach inflammation and regular stomachaches. Mutamba was a magical plant to the ancient Mayans who also used it against “magical illnesses” and evil spells. In the Amazon, indigenous people have long used mutamba for asthma, bronchitis, diarrhea, kidney problems, and syphilis. They use a bark decoction topically for baldness, leprosy, dematosis and other skin conditions.

Mutamba holds a place in herbal medicine systems in many tropical countries; chiefly the bark and leaves are used. In Belizean herbal medicine practices, a small handful of chopped bark is boiled for 10 minutes in 3 cups of water and drunk for dysentery and diarrhea, for prostate problems, and as a uterine stimulant to aid in childbirth. A slightly stronger decoction is used externally for skin sores, infections, and rashes. In Brazilian herbal medicine practices, a bark decoction is used to promote perspiration, cleanse and detoxify the blood, and to suppress coughs. There it is used for fevers, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, syphilis, and liver problems. A bark decoction is also prepared and is used topically to promote hair growth, to combat parasites of the scalp, and to treat various skin conditions. In Peru, the dried bark and/or dried leaves are made into tea (standard infusion) and used for kidney disease, liver disease, and dysentery. There the bark is also used topically for hair loss. In Guatemala, the dried leaves of the tree are brewed into a tea and drunk for fevers, kidney disease, and skin diseases, as well as used externally for wounds, sores, bruises, dermatitis, skin eruptions and irritations, and erysipelas.


Mutamba bark is a rich source of tannins and antioxidant chemicals called proanthocyanidins. One in particular, procyanidin B-2, helps validate mutamba’s long standing use in several countries for hair loss and baldness. In 1999, researchers in Japan reported that procyanidin B-2 was a safe topical hair-growing agent. From 2000 to 2002, they published three in vitro and in vivo (in balding men) studies showing that procyanidin B-2 promoted hair cell growth and increased the total number of hairs on a designated scalp area. Researchers have determined that mutamba bark is a rich source of this natural chemical compound. Other independent research indicates that procyanidin B-2 also has antitumorous and anticancerous effects (even against melanoma) as well as lowers blood pressure and protects the kidneys. The bark also contains a chemical called kaurenoic acid which has been documented with antibacterial and antifungal properties in many studies over the years. The leaves of mutamba contain caffeine, however none has been found in the bark of the tree.

Mutamba’s main plant chemicals include: caryophyllene, catechins, farnesol, friedelin, kaurenoic acid, precocene I, procyanidin B-2, procyanidin B-5, procyanidin C-1, and sitosterol.


Mutamba’s long history of effective uses in herbal medicine propelled researchers to begin studying its properties and activities in the laboratory (beginning in 1968). It has been the subject of numerous studies since. In the first study published, using various animals (rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and insects), reported that it lowered heart rate and blood pressure, relaxed smooth muscles and stimulated the uterus. Two years later, another researcher reconfirmed the uterine stimulant effects in rats, validating its historical uses as a uterine stimulant and childbirth aid. In eight different studies from 1987 to 2003, various leaf and bark extracts have clinically demonstrated remarkable antibacterial activity in vitro against several disease-causing pathogens, including Bacillus, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E. coli, and Neisseria gonorrhea. One of the recent 2003 studies also confirmed its antioxidant effects. In a 1995 in vitro study, mutamba also demonstrated antiviral activity against Herpes simplex type 1.

These studies could certainly explain why mutamba has been used so effectively in herbal medicine systems for many types of gastrointestinal problems, such venereal diseases as gonorrhea and syphilis, and upper respiratory conditions (pneumonia and bronchitis). Subsequent research focusing on particular chemicals found in mutamba documented their ability to interfere with an enzyme process by which bacteria and pathogens replicate. Scientists showed that these chemicals interacted with a cholera toxin-preventing its toxicity and the resultant diarrhea.

Traditionally a decoction of mutamba leaves has been used in Mexico for diabetes. It has only been recently (in 1998) that researchers in Mexico validated this indigenous use, publishing a study showing that a leaf extract significantly decreased hyperglycemia in rabbits. Of particular note (in 1990), a Brazilian research group demonstrated that a crude extract of mutamba bark was toxic to cancer cells in vitro, exhibiting a 97.3% inhibition rate. In yet another recent study (in 2002), Belgium researchers reported the possible mechanism by which mutamba bark reduces hypertension – it inhibits an enzyme called angiotensin II. Angiotensin inhibitors represent a newer classification of heart drugs (newer than the ACE-inhibitors) which are now being prescribed to lower blood pressure.


Research continues to document the unique properties and actions of this plant while validating its traditional uses. Mutamba is a favorite natural remedy among Central and South American health practitioners and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. It is often turned to first for upper respiratory infections as it can quiet coughs, reduce fever, as well as provides antiviral and antibacterial actions. It will be interesting to see if anyone in North or South America follows up on the research concerning hair loss and utilizes mutamba as a natural product for baldness and hair loss prevention. There certainly is a ready (and very profitable) market for products such as these. . . especially if they are effective!

Main Preparation Method: decoctionMain Actions (in order):
antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) Main Uses: 

  1. as a topical hair remedy for hair loss and baldness
  2. as a digestive aid for stomachache, diarrhea, dysentery, and stomach inflammation
  3. as an external skin remedy for wounds, rashes, skin parasites, dermatitis, fungal infections and leprosy
  4. for viral and bacterial infections (including syphilis, gonorrhea, upper respiratory viruses, and kidney infections)
  5. as an astringent to stop bleeding

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
ACE-inhibitor (typically lowers blood pressure), antibacterial, anticancerous, antifungal, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antitumorous, antiviral, cardiac depressant, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), hypoglycemic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), muscle relaxant, uterine stimulantOther Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
anti-inflammatory, antihemorrhagic (reduces bleeding), cough suppressant, antiulcerous, astringent, blood cleanser, cough suppressant, decongestant, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestive stimulant, emollient, febrifuge (reduces fever), hepatoprotective (liver protector), hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver), wound healer

Cautions: Use with caution and under doctor supervision if you have a heart condition.








Traditional Preparation: The traditional remedy for upper respiratory infections, asthma and other respiratory problems is one cup of a standard bark decoction 2-3 times daily. For gastrointestinal problems and other conditions the same bark decoction is used or 2-3 ml of a 4:1 tincture twice daily or one to 2 grams of powdered bark daily in tablets or capsules or stirred into water or juice can be substituted if desired. The same bark decoction is rinsed through the hair several times weekly as a natural remedy for hair loss. See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.


Mutamba bark has been documented in several animal studies to have uterine stimulant activity and it should not be taken during pregnancy.

Mutamba bark has been documented in animal studies to lower blood pressure. In vitro studies indicate that it can inhibit angiotensin II. People with a history of heart problems, those taking heart medications, or those with low blood pressure should not use this plant without supervision and advice of a qualified health care practitioner.

Drug Interactions: None published; however, mutamba bark may potentiate the action of certain antihypertensive drugs.

Country Uses
Belize for childbirth, diarrhea, dysentery, infections, prostate problems, rashes, skin, uterine problems, sores
Brazil for asthma, blood cleansing, bronchitis, coughs, dysentery, excessive mucous, fever, hair loss, hepatitis, liver problems, parasites (head), pneumonia, skin diseases, syphilis, ulcers, and to increase perspiration
Colombia as a uterine stimulant
Cuba for bruises, burns, colds, flu, hemorrhoids, urinary insufficiency, wounds
for dysentery, fertility (veterinary), lung problems, and to increase perspiration
Guatemala for bruises, dermatitis, erysipelas, fevers, gonorrhea, kidney diseases, skin disorders (irritation, eruptions, inflammation, sores, ulcers), stomachache, stomach inflammation, wounds, and to increase perspiration
Haiti for blood cleansing, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive sluggishness, fever, flu, fractures, scurvy, skin problems, wounds
Jamaica for diarrhea, elephantiasis, leprosy, malaria
Mexico for asthma, chest problems, childbirth, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, elephantiasis, fever, gastrointestinal problems, hemorrhages, infectious diseases, kidney problems, leprosy, malaria, rashes, skin problems, syphilis, uterine pain, wounds
Peru for diarrhea, dysentery, asthma, bronchitis, dermatitis, elephantiasis, fever, hair loss, hepatitis, kidney disease, leprosy, liver disease, lung problems, malaria, syphilis
Venezuela for syphilis, wounds, and to increase perspiration and lower body temperature
Elsewhere for asthma, bleeding, bronchitis, chest problems, elephantiasis, hair loss, hypertension, kidney disorders, liver problems, obesity, skin problems, stomachaches, and to increase perspiration


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 on Mutamba

10. “Guazuma ulmifolia Lam. Sterculiaceae. “Bolaina”, “Atadijo”, “West Indian elm”. Wood and bark for construction and ropes. Ripe fruits have a strong honey scent. Some people even chew the fruit to extract the sweet juice, spitting out the remainder. The macerated fruit mixed with aguardiente is used to scent the “siricaipe” or “mapacho”. In Jamaica the bark is used to feed silkworms. Leaf decoction used for baldness, the bark decoction for dysentery (SOU). Elsewhere regarded as astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, emollient, pectoral, refrigerant, stomachic, styptic, and sudorific; used for alopecia, asthma, bronchitis, dermatosis, diarrhea, dysentery, elephantiasis, fever, hepatitis, leprosy, malaria, nephritis, pulmonosis, and syphilis (DAW, RAR).

Tico Ethnobotanical Dictionary by James A. Duke:

GUAZUMA ULMIFOLIA Lam. West Indian elm (E); Bastard cedar (J); Cabeza de Negrito (P); Guacimo (C,P) . The green fruits of this honey tree are edible fresh or cooked, and are relished by cattle. They are crushed in water to make a beverage, and to add flavor to meats. The leaves and fruits are eaten by cattle and deer. The bark is used for cordage, and is regarded as sudorific. It is used to treat elephantiasis, cutaneous diseases, and chest afflictions. The sap is used to clarify syrup in sugar-making, and was used for food and shaving cream in Colombia. In Darien, the uncooked bark is soaked with malva to drink for afflictions of the kidney and liver. In the Pearl Islands, people believe that touching the tree will slow bleeding.

Third-Party Published Research on Mutamba

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

Felipe, A. M., et al. “Antiviral effect of Guazuma ulmifolia and Stryphnodendron adstringens on Poliovirus and Bovine Herpesvirus.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2006; 29(6): 1092-5.

Camporese, A., et al. “Screening of anti-bacterial activity of medicinal plants from Belize (Central America).” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul; 87(1): 103-7.

Navarro, M. C., et al. “Antibacterial, antiprotozoal and antioxidant activity of five plants used in Izabal for infectious diseases.” Phytother. Res. 2003; 17(4): 325-9.

Caceres, A., et al. “Anti-gonorrhoeal activity of plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1995; 48(2): 85–88.

Hattori, M., et al. “Inhibitory effects of various Ayurvedic and Panamania medicinal plants on the infection of Herpes simplex virus-1 in vitro and in vivo.” Phytother. Res. 1995; 9(4): 270–76.

Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. 3. Confirmation of activity against enterobacteria of 16 plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1993; 38(1): 31–38.

Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of respiratory diseases. 2: Evaluation of activity of 16 plants against gram-positive bacteria.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1993; 39(1): 77–82.

Heinrich, M., et al. “Parasitological and microbiological evaluation of Mixe Indian medicinal plants.” (Mexico) J. Ethnopharmacol. 1992; 36(1): 81–85.

Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. 1. Screening of 84 plants against enterobacteria.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990; 30(1): 55–73.

Caceres, A., et al. “Screening of antimicrobial activity of plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatomucosal diseases.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1987; 20(3): 223–37.

Anticancerous Actions:

Seigler, D. S. “Cyanogenic glycosides and menisdaurin from Guazuma ulmifolia, Ostrya virgininana, Tiquilia plicata and Tiquilia canescens.” Phytochemistry. 2005 Jul; 66(13): 1567-80.

Ito, H., et al. “Antitumor activity of compounds isolated from leaves of Eriobotrya japonica.” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002; 50(8): 2400–3.

Kashiwada, Y., et al. “Antitumor agents, 129. Tannins and related compounds as selective cytotoxic agents.” J. Nat. Prod. 1992; 55(8): 1033–43.

Nascimento, S. C., et al. “Antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities in plants from Pernambuco, Brazil.” Fitoterapia. 1990; 61(4): 353–55.

Actions on Hair Growth:

Kamimura, A., et al. “Procyanidin oligomers counteract TGF-beta1- and TGF-beta2-induced apoptosis in hair epithelial cells: an insight into their mechanisms.” Skin Pharmacol. Physiol. 2006; 19(5): 259-65.

Kamimura, A., et al. “Procyanidin B-2, extracted from apples, promotes hair growth: A laboratory study.” Br. J. Dermatol. 2002; 146(1): 41–51.

Takahashi, T., et al. “The first clinical trial of topical application of procyanidin B-2 to investigate its potential as a hair growing agent.” Phytother. Res. 2001; 15(4): 331–36.

Takahashi, T., et al. “Several selective protein kinase C inhibitors including procyanidins promote hair growth.” Skin Pharmacol. Appl. Skin Physiol. 2000 May-Aug; 13(3-4): 133-42.

Takahashi, T., et al. “Toxicological studies on procyanidin B-2 for external application as a hair growing agent.” Food Chem. Toxicol. 1999; 37(5): 545–52.

Takahashi, T., et al. “Procyanidin oligomers selectively and intensively promote proliferation of mouse hair epithelial cells in vitro and activate hair follicle growth in vivo.” J. Invest. Dermatol. 1999; 112(3): 310-6.

Anti-ulcer Actions:

Heinrich, M. “Ethnobotany and natural products: the search for new molecules, new treatments of old diseases or a better understanding of indigenous cultures?” Curr. Top. Med. Chem. 2003; 3(2): 141-54.

Hor, M., et al. “Proanthocyanidin polymers with antisecretory activity and proanthocyanidin oligomers from Guazuma ulmifolia bark.” Phytochemistry. 1996; 42(1): 109–19.

Hor, M., et al. “Inhibition of intestinal chloride secretion by proanthocyanidins from Guazuma ulmifolia.” Planta Med. 1995; 61(3): 208–12.

COX-2 Inhibitory Actions:

Zhang, W. Y.,et al. “Procyanidin dimer B2 [epicatechin-(4beta-8)-epicatechin] suppresses the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 in endotoxin-treated monocytic cells.” Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 2006 Jun; 345(1): 508-15.

Antioxidant Actions:

Sakano, K., et al. “Procyanidin B2 has anti- and pro-oxidant effects on metal-mediated DNA damage.” Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2005 Oct; 39(8): 1041-9.

Saito, A., et al. “Systematic synthesis of galloyl-substituted procyanidin B1 and B2, and their ability of DPPH radical scavenging activity and inhibitory activity of DNA polymerases.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2005 Apr; 13(8): 2759-71.

Hypotensive Actions:

Caballero-George, C., et al. “In vitro inhibition of [3H]-angiotensin II binding on the human AT1 receptor by proanthocyanidins from Guazuma ulmifolia bark.” Planta Med. 2002; 68(12): 1066-71.

Antidiabetic & Anti-cholesterol Actions:

Chen, D. M., et al. “Inhibitory effects of procyanidin B(2) dimer on lipid-laden macrophage formation.” J. Cardiovasc. Pharmacol. 2006 Aug; 48(2): 54-70.

Alarcon-Aguilara, F. J., et al. “Study of the anti-hyperglycemic effect of plants used as antidiabetics.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1998; 61(2): 101–10.

Uterine Stimulant Actions:

Barros, G. S. G., et al. “Pharmacological screening of some Brazilian plants.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1970; 22: 116.

Ingredients: 100% pure mutamba (Guazuma ulmifolia) bark. 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 Brazilian 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.


Mutamba bark has been documented in animal studies to have uterine stimulant activity and it should not be taken during pregnancy.

Mutamba bark has been documented in an animal study to lower blood pressure. In vitro studies indicate that it can inhibit angiotensin II. People with low blood pressure should use with caution while monitoring their blood pressure accordingly.

Drug Interactions: None published; however, mutamba bark may potentiate the action of certain antihypertensive drugs.

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