Capirona is the common name for the tree Calycophyllum Spruceanum. A tall, narrow, open crown, this beautiful evergreen makes a wonderful addition to any backgarden or landscape. Thriving in the lowland forests of the Amazon, often near rivers, growing well in a sunny position. It is commonly used for it’s wood, as well as an array of medicinal and spiritual purposes. In Brazil, it is known by the name ‘Mulateiro’ or ‘Pau-Mulato’.
The capirona tree is deeply embedded into plant medicine culture of the Amazon region. By preparing the bark in certain methods, a multitude of health claims have been made from anti-aging to wound healing. In fact, some Amazonian tribes have nicknamed it the Tree of Youth. It has been proven to both promote longevity and enhance stress resistance.
Growing in the Amazon rainforest presents a set of challenges for seedlings. Lichens, fungi, epiphyres, and lianas all pose threats to the vitality of this great timber. So, up to twice per year, the capirona tree regularly sheds its bark entirely. Because of this, local tribes are able to harvest the bark without harming the forest. Once shed the bark is smooth as if it was polished, and changes in color as it ages from green to brownish.
The bark is the most sacred part in local native culture. It is used in Ayahuasca rituals as well as different folkloric medicines
ashi, asho, capirona, capirona de bajo, capirona negra, corusicao, escorrega-macaco, firewood tree, mulateiro, mulateiro-da-várzea, naked tree, palo mulato, pau-marfim, pau mulato, pau-mulato-da-várzea, uhuachaunin, haxo, huiso asho, nahua
Consumption in any form is very safe. A typical dosage would be 1/2 cup 2-3 times daily, applied topically. However, there are a few ways to consume and each have their own health benefits. The indians would brew a tea from the bark, pour it onto their skin and let it dry. The resulting film layer was believed to provide anti-aging effects and fight bacteria and parasites. It was also believed that daily consumption over a period of months would cure diabetes. Applying the bark infusion to skin has many benefits, but specifically it is known to fight a skin parasite known as “sarna negra”.
Today, modern Peruvian herbal medicine uses a bark decoction topically for eye infections as well as dermatological purposes. Another useful part of the tree is a resin which can be created that can be used on abscesses and skin tumours. Due to the many skin benefits, it is popping up as an ingredient in cosmetic products throughout Latin America. One thing to watch out for is mulateiro bark contains a high concentration of tannin chemicals which give it a drying effect on the skin, which have demonstrated a strong antioxidant effect.
It is well documented as an antibacterial, anticandidal, antifungal, antioxidant, insecticidal, and insect repellant. Traditionally it is used as an emollient, astringent, and wound healer.
With the tree shedding bark annually, it can be hard to justify cutting down this giant to use its wood. With an established market for the medicinal benefits of consuming Calycophyllum Spruceanum, the land owners would not value it for the lumber, but for their bark.
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