A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Sangre De Drago
The sangre de drago tree is found in the Amazon rain forest and normally grows between 30 to 100 feet or 10 to 30 meters high occasionally getting in touch with the sunshade. What is significant is that when the trunk of the tree is either cut or injured, it gives out a resin like sap - making it appear as if the tree was suffering from hemorrhage. Hence, the tree is named sangre de drago in Spanish, which when translated into English literally means ‘blood of the dragon'. The red colored resin of the sangre de drago tree is therapeutically beneficial and has been used by people for ages to heal various disorders. The therapeutic benefits of the resin or ‘blood' has been recognized as well as used by the natives of the Amazon basin, the Africans and the Europeans settlers in the Amazon basin.
There is an extensive account of the aboriginal use of the latex or red sap obtained from sangre de drago (including its bark) in South America as well as in the rainforest. In fact, the original written document regarding its use dates back to the 1660s, when P. Bernabé Cobo, a Spanish explorer and naturalist, discovered that the therapeutic strength of the sap was extensively identified all through the native tribes of Peru, Mexico and Ecuador. The sap of sangre de drago is used topically by the native tribes as well as the local inhabitants in Peru to heal wounds, hemorrhoids and fractures. It is also taken internally for curing stomach and intestinal ulcers and used in the form of a douche for vaginal discharge. There are a number of other aboriginal utilities of sangre de drago, including curing intestinal fever as well as infected or inflamed gums, for hemorrhaging following childbirth, in vaginal baths prior to and following childbirth as well as to cure skin disorders.
The ointment prepared from sangre de drago is immensely useful in treating skin disorders. It virtually takes the shape of a ‘second skin' or covering layer on the skin and impedes inflammation (swelling and irritation) as well as infection. The herb is also effectual in combating bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Tinctures prepared from the herb are used to end bleeding caused by peptic ulcers. Listed below are the health condition and specific advantages of sangre de drago. Using the herb in excess may not only be detrimental to one's health, but also prove to be fatal.
Cuts and scrapes, abrasions, eczema and insect bites: The resinous sap from the sangre de drago is applied externally to treat broken or split skin and eczema. It is interesting to note that the resin dries up within moments of applying it on the affected area forming a defensive shield or a ‘second skin'. This protective coating formed by the resin lets the original skin to rejuvenate itself without any further hazard of scratches or contagion. Chemical analysis of the sangre de drago has shown that the herb encloses a latex resin or rubbery substance that possesses an alkaloid called taspine. The taspine is said to be effective in healing any wound rapidly, while putting an end to bleeding. In addition, laboratory studies have established that sangre de drago is also effectual in curing eczema as the raw resin has been found to induce contractions of the injury. In addition, the resin of sangre de drago helps in forming a coating over the wound or injury and in the process aids in the speedy renewal of the affected area. The herb also helps in the development of new collagen - the key protein present in the skin. Different studies have shown that the unprocessed or the natural herb is approximately four time more effectual in curing the skin disorders than the chemically extracted elements from sangre de drago.
Several studies have shown that SP-303, a dynamic amalgam extracted from sangre de drago, is effective in curbing diarrhea. The compound or SP-303 functions by restricting the flow surplus of water into the intestines.
Vaginitis: In Peru, herbal medicine practitioners have been conventionally using sangre de drago as an effective antiseptic vaginal douche (a liquid squirted to cleanse the body). It may be mentioned here that bacteria as well as yeasts require setting ‘roots' on the walls of the vagina to take control of things and cause contagions. Hazards of infections in the vagina are reduced with the use of sangre de drago as the herb helps in protecting the genital organ and make it resistant to such micro-organisms. Herbal physicians have also used sangre de drago to wash the vagina for fevers, pyorrhea or inflammation of the gum, getting rid of infections before child birth as well as bleeding or hemorrhage following delivery.
Even today the resin and bark of sangre de drago are employed in the form of traditional medicine in South America much in the same way as the native ones. In the herbal medicine of Peru, the bark and resin of sangre de drago are suggested for treating hemorrhages, and externally, for healing injuries. In addition, they are also employed internally for curing various types of ulcers, including those in the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. They are also used in the form of an anti-viral for treating virus infections in the upper respiratory tract, HIV as well as stomach viruses. Internally as well as externally, they are used to treat cancer. It is used externally to cure skin complaints, insect stings and bites. Currently, in Brazilian traditional medicine, the sap is employed to treating wounds, diarrhea, hemorrhages, and mouth ulcers as well as in the form of a common tonic.
It may be noted that in 1989, the ability of the resin/ sap of sangre de drago to heal wounds was originally associated with the taspine alkaloid. Numerous researches undertaken afterwards also focused on the anti-tumour and wound-healing attributes of taspine. In 1993, scientists succeeded in isolating the lignan dimethylcedrusine and it was found to perform a vital role in the effectual wound-healing action of sangre de drago. A study undertaken by scientists in Belgium disclosed that the basic resin of sangre de drago encouraged the tightening of the wounds, facilitated in the development of a scab/ crust at the site of the wound, restored the skin more quickly and also helped in the development of fresh collagen. While documenting that it was discovered that the crude resin of sangre de drago was four times more effectual in healing wounds and formation of collagen in comparison to its separated chemicals, Dr. Duke referred to this Belgian study. He also noted that using the crude resin facilitated the healing of wounds as many as 120 times compared to using no medication at all.
In addition, the Belgian scientists further concluded in their study that taspine was found to be effective in neutralizing herpes virus. Scientists discovered many new phytochemicals in 1994 and these included proanthocyanadins, phenolic compounds and diterpenes, which demonstrated strong anti-bacterial actions, especially against Bacillus subtilis and E. coli, in addition to wound-healing attributes. A different study recorded the antioxidant actions of sangre de drago and scientists in Canada documented the plant's anti-fungal properties. One more significant conventional utility of the sangre de drago sap was corroborated during a clinical trial undertaken in 2000 to appraise the herb's usefulness in treating gastrointestinal disorders.
Eventually, researchers determined that sangre de drago is a strong and inexpensive remedy for gastrointestinal ulcers as well as distress by means of its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial as well as sensory afferent-reliant actions. Two year later, in 2002, the same scientists stated that sangre de drago also demonstrated an in vitro consequence against colon and stomach cancer cells also. In 2003, Italian scientists noted that the resin/ sap of sangre de drago also helped to slow down the development of a human myelogenous leukemia (leukemia originating in bone marrow) cell line and, at the same time, prohibited the cells from mutating or transforming in test tube examinations.
Even extracts obtained from sangre de drago have shown anti-viral actions against influenza, herpes simplex viruses I and II, as well as hepatitis A and B. In effect, the attention of the pharmaceutical industry was drawn to the anti-diarrhea as well as the anti-viral attributes of sangre de drago during the last one decade. A pharmaceutical company based in the United States has already filed patent application on three different pharmaceutical preparations enclosing anti-viral elements as well as new chemicals (a cluster of flavonoids they derived from plants and named SP-303), which were extracted from the resin/ sap and bark of sangre de drago. The patented drugs of this pharmaceutical company comprise an oral medication for treating respiratory viral contagions; an anti-viral product meant for external application to treat herpes, and another oral product to treat chronic diarrhea. Already, these products have been subjected to a number of different human clinical tests. While the immune-modulating actions of sangre de drago is yet to be the subject of any particular research, a number of researchers are of the view that the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory as well as the antioxidant actions of sangre de drago may possibly offer a general immune augmentation result too.
Of late, numerous scientific examinations have been undertaken on a patented sangre de drago product (prepared into a skin lotion), which was also founded on conventional utilization. They have stated that pest control workers actually preferred a balm prepared from sangre de drago to a placebo, for providing respite from pain, itching, uneasiness, swelling as well as redness in reaction to mosquitoes, fire ants, wasps, bees, abrasions, cuts as well as allergic reactions owing to exposure to plants (for instance, poison ivy and others). Pest control workers who participated in the research stated that the use of the sangre de drago skin lotion provided them with relief almost instantaneously and eased the symptoms, such as itchiness and swelling, for a maximum period of six hours.
Such testified outcomes in humans, in addition to many additional experiments the scientists conducted on animals as well as in vitro models of inflammation made them come to the conclusion that sangre de drago helped to check the feeling of pain by means of obstructing the stimulation of the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals to the brain, thereby performing in the form of a general pain killer. In addition, it was also found that sangre de drago thwarts the response of tissues to a chemical discharged by the nerves that stimulates inflammation.
When you are using the sap/ resin of sangre de drago topically, it ought to be massaged straight on the affected part many times every day and permitted to dry after each rubbing session. It may be noted that the resin is red in color and it may stain the skin reddish-brown for a short term and can be rinsed off. However, if the resin comes in contact with your clothing, it will cause a permanent staining. When you rub the sangre de drago resin in your palm first or apply it directly to the affected part, it will congeal to form a slight, paler hued paste that helps to form a coating or a second skin over the rash or wound and will eventually lessen staining. For using the herb internally, the traditional dose is taking two to three drops of it in a little amount of liquid one or thrice every day. Here is a word of caution: when taking the resin internally you ought to be prepared, for it has a somewhat horrible taste.
Side effects and cautions
Sangre de drago or medications prepared with it are available in various forms. While sangre de drago is commonly available in the market in ointment and tincture forms, some importers of the herb also trade even in unadulterated liquefied resin. However, here is a word of caution. The pure liquid resin should never be taken in excess of two to three drops in a cup of warm water. It is advisable to consult a physician before using the unadulterated sangre de drago resinous liquid directly.