Tayuya traditionall used as an analgesic, nervine, neurasthenic, anti-inflammatory and detoxifierTAYUYA

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Genus: Cayaponia

Species: tayuya

Synonyms: Cayaponia piauhiensis, C. ficifolia, Bryonia tayuya, Trianosperma tayuya, T. piauhiensis, T. ficcifolia

Common Names: Tayuya, taiuiá, taioia, abobrinha-do-mato, anapinta, cabeca-de-negro, guardião, tomba

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=144]


Part Used: Root

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • relieves pain
  • stimulates bile
  • reduces inflammation
  • stimulates digestion
Infusion: 1 cup 2-3
  • fights free radicals
  • increases urination
times daily
  • redues stress
  • mildly laxative
Capsules: 1-2 g 2-3
  • cleanses blood
times daily

Tayuya is a woody vine found in the Amazon rainforest (predominantly in Brazil and Peru) as well as in Bolivia. This important Amazon plant belongs to the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, which comprises over 100 genera and over 700 species—most of which are characterized by their long, tuberous roots. It is this root that is employed medicinally. Harvesting of it can only be performed during rainy season, when the ground is soft and wet; during dry season, the ground is too hard to extricate the root (which can extend to three feet long) from the dry clay soils in the Amazon. About 50 species of Cayaponia occur in the warmer parts of the Americas, West Africa, Madagascar and Indonesia. In Brazil, Cayaponia tayuya is known as taiuiá; in Peru, it is called tayuya.

Tribal & Herbal Medicine UsesSouth American Indians have been using tayuya since prehistoric times, and the plant’s value is well known. It has been used as a tonic and blood cleanser traditionally (and, usually, with a bit of honey or stevia added to tone down the strong, bitter taste). In the Amazon rainforest, Indians have used the root of tayuya for snakebite and rheumatism for centuries. Indians in Colombia use the plant for sore eyes; indigenous tribes of Peru use it for skin problems.

Tayuya has a long history in Brazilian herbal medicine; it was first recorded in the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia as an official herbal drug in 1929. Brazilian botanist J. Monteiro da Silva reports tayuya is used for the treatment of all types of pain and, recommends it as an anti-syphilitic agent. Monteiro also believes that tayuya helps to regulate metabolism. In Brazil today, tayuya is used as an analgesic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, blood purifier and detoxifier; to treat diarrhea, epilepsy, metabolism disorders, backache, sciatic pain, headaches, gout, neuralgia, constipation, anemia, cholera, dyspepsia, stomach problems, fatigue and debility, skin disorders, arthritis and rheumatism, syphilis, tumors (especially in the joints)—and as a general analgesic for many conditions.

Currently, tayuya is employed in North and South America for its pain-reducing properties and more. Natural health practitioners in the United States are using tayuya to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dyspepsia and sluggish digestion, neuralgia, sciatica, gout, headaches, rheumatism, and as a metabolic regulator. Because of its reported effectiveness as a blood purifier and detoxifier, it is also being used to treat water retention, wounds, splotchiness on the face, eczema, herpes, severe acne, and other skin problems. It is also being used in athletic training and recovery to help remove lactic acid accumulation, reduce swelling, and to relieve emotional fatigue and depression.

Plant ChemicalsTayuya is phytochemically rich in flavones, glucosides, and cucurbitacin triterpenes. Almost every species in the huge Cucurbitaceae family is documented to contain cucurbitacin compounds—many of which evidence biological activity (and, oftentimes, the plant’s medicinal activity is ascribed to these chemicals). Novel cucurbitacins have been discovered in tayuya and named cayaponosides (24 distinct cayaponosides have been discovered thus far). These phytochemicals have been documented to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and, more recently, to have anticancerous potential.

The National Cancer Center Research Institute in Tokyo, Japan reported (in 1995) that five cayaponosides in tayuya “. . . exhibited significant anti-tumor-promoter activity in screening tests using an Epstein-Barr virus activating system.” and that two other cayaponosides “. . . also suppressed mouse skin tumor promotion in a two-stage carcinogenesis experiment . . .” Another cucurbitacin found in tayuya, cucurbitacin R, has been studied extensively in Russia. There it is cited as a powerful adaptogen, preventing stress-induced alterations in the body. Other flavone phytochemicals in tayuya have been reported act as potent scavengers of free radicals, providing an antioxidant effect as well as protecting against damage induced by gamma-radiation.

The main plant chemicals found in tayuya include: alkaloids, cayaponosides, cucurbitacins, isoorientin, isovitexin, orientin, resins, saponins, spinosin, sterols, swertisin, vicenin 2, and vitexin.

Biological Activities & Clinical ResearchWhile tayuya’s compounds have come under some scientific scrutiny (and many of the documented uses in herbal medicine could be explained by some of the activities of its chemicals), very little research has been performed on the biological activity of the plant itself. Two animal studies (performed in the early 1990s) do verify that root extracts provide analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions. One study documented that a root infusion given intragastrically to mice had an analgesic action. Another research group prepared the root in a methanol extract and reported mild anti-inflammatory actions when administered orally to mice. The latter group reported no toxic effects in mice (oral dosages of a methanol root extract) at 2 g per kg of body weight; however, an LD50 of 500 mg/kg was established when injected intraperitoneally. One in vitro study by Brazilian scientists reported that tayuya did not evidence any antimicrobial properties (against several common bacteria, fungi, and yeast microbes they tested).

Current Practical UsesOf recent (2003) concern, a widely-publicized marketing campaign was started in Europe regarding tayuya that is, at best, unscrupulous—if not outright fraudulent. It makes unsupported claims that the plant can cure many diseases including arthritis, impotence, and gout, and was discovered through the “Tayuyis” Indians in Brazil (who never existed). Other easily-recognized fallacies in their literature are that tayuya is “rare” (as it, supposedly, makes the soil sterile for 15–20 years!), and that the leaf is used indigenously (rather than the root, which is well-documented in literature dating back a century). European consumers should be aware that no clinical studies exist to support any of these wild claims, and that tayuya will not provide the benefits advertised. While tayuya has a long history of traditional use by herbalists in the United States and South America for all types pain and joint aches, it is at best a mild analgesic; it will not cure arthritis (nor any of the other diseases claimed in the marketing literature). It is unfortunate that a handful of unethical companies can affect the entire herbal products industry negatively with such scurrilous practices, but it continues to happen.

Although not widely available, tayuya is being employed by several companies as an ingredient in various herbal formulas (typically for pain, arthritis, and detoxification). Generally it is employed by South American herbalists in combination with other plants, and not as a monotherapy. Consumers and manufacturers should stick with reputable harvesters and importers for sourcing this particular tropical plant. The official plant that is sold as tayuya should be Cayaponia tayuya. One independent published survey in Brazil (the main exporter of the root), however, reported that almost any species of Cayaponia (of which about 40 different species exist in South America) is harvested, marketed, and sold as taiuiá in Brazil. They also reported that another completely different plant, Wilbrandia ebracteata, frequently has been found among the “taiuiá roots” sold in Brazilian herbal commerce.

Main Actions (in order):
analgesic (pain-reliever), nervine (balances/calms nerves), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), anti-inflammatory, detoxifier
Main Uses:


  1. Pain of all types (arthritis, migraines and headaches, stomach aches, menstrual pain, etc.)
  2. Central nervous system disorders (sciatica, neuralgia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, nerve injuries, etc.)
  3. General detoxification aid and blood cleanser.
  4. Acne, eczema, dermatitis and other skin problems.
  5. Emotional fatigue and depression.

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antioxidantOther Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use: : anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-rheumatic, antisyphilitic, antiulcerous, antivenin, bitter, blood cleanser, detoxifier, digestive stimulant, diuretic, laxative, nervine (balances/calms nerves), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), sedative, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions)

Cautions: Large dosages may cause drowsiness.


Traditional Preparation: Tayuya root is traditionally prepared in infusions and taken in 1 cup doasages two to three times daily. Alternatively, 1-2 g of the powdered root is stirred into juice, water, or food and taken two to three times daily.

Contraindications: None known.Drug Interactions: None known.

Amazonia for depression, edema, eye disorders, fatigue, swelling
Brazil for arthritis, backache, bitter digestive stimulant, blood cleansing, constipation, boils, cholera, dermatoses, detoxification, diarrhea, digestive disorders, dyspepsia, edema, eczema, epilepsy, fatigue, gout, headaches, inflammation, leprosy, menstrual disorders, metabolism regulation, neuralgia, pain, rabies, rheumatism, sciatica, scrofula, snakebite, stomach (dilated), syphilis, tumors (joint), ulcers, urinary insufficiency
Colombia for sore eyes
Peru for rheumatism, skin disorders, snakebite
U.S. for acne, arthritis, backache, blood cleansing, depression, detoxification, digestion disorders, dyspepsia, eczema, edema, epilepsy, gout, headaches, herpes, irritable bowel syndrome, lactic acid excess, liver problems, metabolism disorders, nerve pain, pain, rheumatism, sciatica, skin disorders, spleen inflammation, ulcers, wounds


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 Research on Tayuya

All available third-party published research on tayuya be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the third-party published research on tayuya is shown below: Anti-inflammatory, Pain-Relieving & Anti-arthritic Actions:

Escandell, J. M., et al. “Cucurbitacin R reduces the inflammation and bone damage associated with adjuvant arthritis in Lewis rats by suppression of TNF-{alpha} in T lymphocytes and macrophages.” J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 2006 Feb; 532(1-2): 145-54.

Escandell, J. M., et al. “Dihydrocucurbitacin B, isolated from Cayaponia tayuya, reduces damage in adjuvant-induced arthritis.” Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2006 Feb; 532(1-2): 145-54.

Recio, M. C., et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of two cucurbitacins isolated from Cayaponia tayuya roots.” Planta Med. 2004; 70(5): 414-20.

Himeno, E., et al. “Structures of cayaponosides A, B, C and D, glucosides of new nor-cucurbitacins in the roots of Cayaponia tayuya.” Chem. Pharm. Bull. (Tokyo) 1992; 40(10): 2885–87.

Ruppelt, B. M., et al. “Pharmacological screening of plants recommended by folk medicine as anti-snake venom—I. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities.” Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz 1991; 86 (Suppl. 2): 203–5.

Rios, J. L., et al. “A study of the anti-inflammatory activity of Cayaponia tayuya root.” Fitoterapia 1990; 61(3): 275–78.

Faria, M. R. and E. P. Schenkel. “Caracterizacao de cucurbitacinas em especies vegetais cohecidas popularmente como taiuiá.” Ciencia e Cultura (São Paulo) 1987; 39: 970–73.

Bauer, R., et al. “Cucurbitacins and flavone C-glycosides from Cayaponia tayuya.” Phytochemisty. 1984: 1587–91.

Cytotoxic & Anticancerous Actions:

Dantas, I. N., et al. “Studies on the cytotoxicity of cucurbitacins isolated from Cayaponia racemosa (Cucurbitaceae).” Z. Naturforsch. 2006 Sep-Oct; 61(9-10): 643-6.

Shaw, S. J., et al. “A series of 23,24-dihydrodiscodermolide analogues with simplified lactone regions.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2006 Apr; 16(7): 1961-4.

Wu, P. L., et al. “Cytotoxic and anti-HIV principles from the rhizomes of Begonia nantoensis.” Chem. Pharm. Bull. 2004 Mar; 52(3): 345-9.

Anon., “Anti-tumor-promoter activity of natural substances and related compounds.” Annual Report 1995. National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan, 1996.

Konoshima, T., et al. “Inhibitory effects of cucurbitane triterpenoids on Epstein-Barr virus activation and two-stage carcinogenesis of skin tumor.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 1995; 18(2): 284–87.

Adrenal Tonic & Anti-Stress Actions:

Panossian, A., et al. “On the mechanism of action of plant adaptogens with particular reference to cucurbitacin R diglucoside.” Phytomedicine. 1999 Jul; 6(3): 147-55.

Panosian, A. G., et al. “Action of adaptogens: cucurbitacin R diglucoside as a stimulator of arachidonic acid metabolism in the rat adrenal gland.” Probl. Endokrinol. 1989 Mar-Apr; 35(2): 70-4.

Panosian, A. G., et al. “Effect of stress and the adaptogen cucurbitacin R diglycoside on arachidonic acid metabolism.” Probl. Endokrinol. 1989 Jan-Feb; 35(1): 58-61.

Panosian, A. G., et al. “Cucurbitacin R glycoside—a regulator of steroidogenesis and of the formation of prostaglandin E2—a specific modulator of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-adrenal cortex system.” Biull. Eksp. Biol. Med. 1987; 104(10): 456-7.

Dadaian, M. A., et al. “Prostaglandin E2 and F2 alpha and 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid levels in the blood of immobilized rats: effect of dihydrocucurbitacin D diglucoside.” Vopr. Med. Khim. 1985 Nov-Dec; 31(6): 98-100.

Cellular Protective & Antioxidant Actions:

Nayak, V., et al. “Protection of mouse bone marrow against radiation-induced chromosome damage and stem cell death by the ocimum flavonoids orientin and vicenin.” Radiat. Res. 2005; 163(2): 165-71.

Uma Devi, P., et al. “Protection against prenatal irradiation-induced genomic instability and its consequences in adult mice by Ocimum flavonoids, orientin and vicenin.” Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 2004; 80(9): 653-62.

Uma Devi, P., et al. “In vivo radioprotection by ocimum flavonoids: survival of mice.” Radiat. Res. 1999; 151(1): 74–8.

Vrinda, B., et al. “Radiation protection of human lymphocyte chromosomes in vitro by orientin and vicenin.” Mutat. Res. 2001; 498 (1–2): 39–46.

Huguet, A. I., et al. “Superoxide scavenging properties of flavonoids in a non-enzymic system.” Z. Natur. Forsch. 1990; 45(1–2): 19–24.

Antimicrobal & Antiparasitic Actions:

Truiti, M.C., et al. “Antiprotozoal and molluscicidal activities of five Brazilian plants.” Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 2005; 38(12): 1873-8

Chiappeta, A. D. A., et al. “Higher plants with biological activity—Plants of Pernambuco. I.” Rev. Inst. Antibiot. Univ. Fed. Pernambuco Recife 1983; 21(1/2): 43–50.

Ingredients: 100% pure tayuya root (Cayaponia tayuya). 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 dosages, 2-3 times daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal infusions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

Contraindications: None known.

Drug Interactions: None known.

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