Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) other names: Boldea fragrans, Boldine, Boldoak Boldea, Boldo Folium, Boldus, Boldus Boldus, Peumus boldus, Peumus fragrans.

Boldo is a tree that grows in the Andes mountains in South America. Interestingly, fossilized boldo leaves dating from over thirteen thousand years ago have been found in Chile. These fossils have imprints of human teeth, suggesting that boldo has a long history of dietary or medicinal use.

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Boldo (Peumus Boldus) flower

Boldo is an evergreen shrub that develops unhurriedly and often grows to a height of 6 m to 8 m. The shrub is native to South America, especially in the Andean expanses of Chile and Peru, and is also indigenous to different regions in Morocco. While boldo have bee used as a cooking spice and a therapeutic herb for ages, boldo is still one of the most familiar and widely used medicinal plant in Chile. The boldo shrub is usually grown between December and February. Unfortunately, despite its numerous medicinal properties and utilization, till recently, not much research was undertaken to ascertain the benefits of boldo.

The bark of the plant is made use in tanning, while the wood is exploited in producing charcoal. Presently, boldo is commercially cultivated in Brazil, Italy and North Africa. 

The boldo produces broad waxy leaves and petite fruits that have resemblance to berries. The flowers of the plant too are small having a bell-like shape and yellowish hue. Interestingly, the aromatic flowers of boldo have only one sex - either male or female, and even the plants are unisexual in nature. Owing to this unique characteristic of the boldo, it is essential to grow the male and female plants of the species close by with a view to facilitate their reproduction.

The boldo bears large, rubbery leaves that are easily recognizable owing to the copious tiny wart-like lumps or outgrowths on the exterior fa├žade or upside, while their edges are somewhat curved inwards. The leaves of the boldo grow opposite to each other on the stems and are compact. Usually the leaves grow to a length of 2 inches and have a reddish-brown hue when dried, have a leathery appearance with a midrib that is sticking out. The leaves have a strange scent and when mashed their odor is extremely unpleasant, something akin to the oil of Chenopodium or the wormseed. Following refinement, the boldo leaves yield around 2 per cent of scented oil that is very unstable by nature and related to the oil of Chenopodium from the chemical point of view. The small green fruits of boldo, which contain plenty of sugars, are very delicious as well as nutritious.

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Health Benefits

Boldo is used for mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms, gallstones, achy joints (rheumatism), bladder infections, liver disease, and gonorrhea. Boldo is also to increase urine flow to rid the body of excess fluids, reduce anxiety, increase bile flow, and kill bacteria.

Since ancient times, the boldo has been put to numerous home-grown uses and all these original utilities of the shrub have been recognized extensively. Going by the myths, the therapeutic benefits of boldo were revealed by mere accident. According to fables, a Chilean shepherd observed that his sheep were in a better physical shape and seldom suffered from liver disorders when they nibbled on the local boldo shrubs growing in his pastures. Following such a remarkable breakthrough by the shepherd, more and more natives of Chile were encouraged to use the plant to treat bowel, liver and gallbladder disorders. 

In the traditional herbal medicine of Chile, the boldo is also utilized to cure insomnia, cystitis, rheumatism, colds, constipation, hepatitis, flatulence, indigestion or lack of appetite and also to force out intestinal worms. In addition, the plant, which is deemed to be a useful general tonic or energizer, is also said to be effective in treating earaches and gallstones. In addition to these therapeutic uses of the plant, natives of Chile and neighboring regions have been consuming the fruits of boldo as a spice, while the wood of the shrub has been utilized to make charcoal and the bark to tan animal hides. Native tribes in several regions of Peru make use of the boldo leaves to cure gallstones, liver ailment and also as a diuretic.

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Boldo (Peumus Boldus) fruit

Herbal medical practitioners as well as the common people across the world have recognized and acknowledged the numerous traditional therapeutic benefits of boldo. All over the globe, herbal as well as homeopathy medicine practitioners use the plant or its extracts to treat different digestive problems, liver disorders, as a laxative, a diuretic, and also to enhance bile production in the gallbladder. 

The boldo leaves are exploited to eradicate intestinal worms, alleviate inflammations in the urogenital region, cure jaundice, rheumatism, dyspepsia, earaches, head colds and also sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea. Similarly, conventional herbal medical practitioners in Brazil use boldo to cure an assortment of maladies, including liver clogging, hepatitis, flatulence, constipation, pains and cramps in the stomach and intestines, gallstones, giddiness, sleep disorders, including insomnia, rheumatism or arthritis and poor digestion or absence of desire for food. In all other regions of South America, boldo is extensively used to cure gonorrhea along side treating gallbladder, liver and digestive problems.

In Germany, boldo is a major topic of medical dissertation that enables the use of the plant as an herbal drug to cure minor gastrointestinal seizures and also dyspeptic complaints. German herbal medical practitioners also exploit the plant to cure several other disorders, including gallbladder and liver ailments, gastric problems, as well as to invigorate the release of digestive enzymes, particularly enhance production of bile as well as the release of enzymes in the liver and gallbladder. Basically, the medicinal use of the plant is more or less same all over the world. In all the European regions, people use the plant for similar uses as the Germans do. In addition to what has been discussed above, the German herbal medicine practitioners also use boldo to cure lack of appetite or poor digestion and also as an antispasmodic to relieve muscle cramps.

On the other hand, boldo finds its utility in the American herbal medication scheme as a stimulant that enhances saliva secretion, activity of the liver and flow of bile. The plant is valued for its effectiveness in curing liver disorder, gallstones as well as alleviating pain of gallbladder.

It is interesting to note that several hundred years back, the boldo was an insignificant plant growing in most of the Chilean farmer's fields. People were unaware of the plants multifarious therapeutic benefits and it remained neglected for centuries. However, once people became aware of the benefits of the boldo, it was grown extensively and at present, the plant is commercially cultivated in large fields all over the globe and is supplied to the markets according to specific therapeutic demands or as general herbal medications for treating gallstones and alleviating gallbladder inflammations. 

In addition, boldo is marketed as an herbal remedy for stomach, liver and other digestive problems. Here is a word of caution for all those suffering owing to gallbladder stones. It is essential for people enduring this problem to consult qualified and competent healthcare professions prior to endeavoring self-medication using boldo. Administration of this herb has such a powerful impact on the gallbladder that it not only unloads the stones, but also breaks them down into smaller pieces. In turn, this may even cause an obstruction in the bile ducts positioned beneath the gallbladder. In addition, uncontrolled use of boldo may even result in the damage of the pancreas. In order to stay away from such complexities, boldo needs to be used in mild dosages and preferably in combination with other herbs.

It may be mentioned here that the majority of the digestive problems are a result of the absence of bile and other digestive enzymes secreted by the gastric system. This eventually leads to slow digestion and often gives rise to bloating as well as an awkward sense of fullness following a meal even though the person may not have eaten sufficiently. It also leads to the formation of gases in the intestines, fermentation and belching, inadequate absorption of the nourishing substances in the stomach and bowel. In such situations, boldo is considered to be among the excellent natural cures that help us to get rid of such disorder and, at the same time, kindles the manufacture as well as release of bile and other essential digestive enzymes in the gallbladder, liver and stomach. In this way, usually boldo not only helps to make the most of, but also accelerate the digestive processes. 

Most importantly, majority of the herbal fitness practitioners exploit boldo as the first herbal medication to help in getting the liver free of all toxic elements as well as thwart any possible injury to the liver from the venomous substances and drugs that have the potential to have a poisonous impact on the liver. Nevertheless, it needs to be reminded once again that the users ought not to go beyond the approved dosage for boldo, as it is a very potent and vigorous herb that should be used with care and caution.

Presently, a number of boldo products are available in the market in the United States and in different forms, such as capsules, tablets as well as liquid extracts. Some of these liquid extracts offer a consistent and homogenous amount of boldo. In Europe, such homogenous or standardized boldo extracts are only available by prescription. On the contrary, they are sold as over-the-counter drugs in the United States and the users do not require any prescription to avail them.

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Side effects

Boldo (Peumus Boldus) Overview, Health Benefits, Side effects
Boldo (Peumus Boldus) leaf

Boldo might be unsafe when used for medicinal purposes. Poisoning by ascaridole, a chemical that occurs naturally in boldo, has occurred in people taking boldo. Boldo might cause liver damage when taken by mouth. If you take boldo, use only ascaridole-free preparations. When applied to the skin, boldo can cause irritation.

While boldo has been found to be effective in curing numerous digestive, liver and gallbladder disorders, the herb has its downsides too and may result in serious aftereffects. People who desire to use the herb should essentially seek the advice of competent and trained herbal medical practitioners. Besides, a dose in excess to what has been prescribed by the herbal medical practitioners may prove to be detrimental for the overall health. Hence, the herb should always be taken under the guidance and advice of experienced herbal physicians.

During researches and also otherwise, the plant has shown to affect pregnancy by resulting in abortions. Studies conducted on animals have demonstrated fetal birth deaths and, hence, boldo should never be used during pregnancy or lactation. 

The other side effects of boldo include thinning of blood. This is owing to the chemicals enclosed in the herb and, therefore, people taking drugs to make the blood thinner, for instance, Warfarin®, or people who have been suffering from ailments that tend to thin the blood, for instance, hemophilia or thrombocytopenia, ought not to take the herb unless it is prescribed by their healthcare professionals. In fact, the herb has the aptitude to make the effect of drugs like Warfarin® more potent and, hence, it should never be used while taking the drug. In addition, boldo has demonstrated to possess diuretic properties and hence it is advisable not to use the herb chronically or for an extended period.

An in vivo clinical examination (an experimentation done in or on the living tissue of a whole) indicates that boldo and/ or boldine has the aptitude to diminish the metabolic start and/ or absorption of venomous substances, medications and compounds in the liver. In effect, boldo, in itself, has the potential to diminish the impact or lessen the half-life of specific drugs that ought to be absorbed in the liver.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Boldo might be unsafe when used orally in medicinal amounts. Ascaridole, a chemical in boldo, can damage the liver.

Bile duct blockage: Boldo seems to be able to increase the flow of bile, a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile passes through small channels (ducts) in the intestine where it plays an important role in digesting fats. These ducts can become blocked. There is a concern that the extra bile flow caused by boldo might be harmful in people with blocked bile ducts.

Liver disease: There is some concern that boldo can damage the liver, especially in people who have liver disease. Don’t use boldo if you have liver problems.

Surgery: Boldo can slow blood clotting, so there is some concern that it might increase the chance of too much bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using boldo at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.