Baccharis triptera Mart.
Conyza genistelloides Lam.
Common Name: Carqueja
Photograph by: Kurt Stüber
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Carqueja is a perennial plant with a green stem by which it photosynthesizes. It can grow nearly vertical to a height of 1 - 2 metres and produces yellowish-white flowers towards the top of the plant[
The plant has a long history of medicinal use by the native peoples of S. America, and has been widely accepted in many parts of Brazil, Peru etc where it is particularly valued for its beneficial effect upon the liver and digestive system[
S. America - northern Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and Colombia.
The whole plant is abortifacient, analgesic, antacid, anthelmintic, antiinflammatory, antiviral, bitter, blood purifier, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hepatic, hypoglycaemic, laxative and tonic[
The plant contains up to 20% flavonoids, including quercetin, luteolin, nepetin, apigenin, and hispidulin[
]. These are considered the main active constituents[
]. Studies have shown that hispidulin has a particularly beneficial effect upon the liver, though it is more effective when used in combination with the whole plant[
Several novel plant chemicals called clerodane diterpenoids have also been identified and it has been shown that these had maximum effects against worms[
]. This could possibly explain carqueja's long history of use as an agent to expel intestinal worms[
Several other trials have been carried out on the medicinal properties of carqueja. These have supported the traditional uses of the plant to reduce stomach acidity, treat ulcers, reduce inflammation and lower high blood pressure[
Carqueja has also long been used in South America as a natural aid for diabetes, and several studies confirm its ability to lower blood sugar levels[
The plant's antiviral activity has also been verified in research with water-extracts showing activity against Herpes simplex I and Vesicular stomatitis viruses at low dosages[
]. It has also shown an in vitro inhibition of HIV virus replication in T-cells, which seems to be mainly due to the substance 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid which is found in the plant[
]. This substance is a potent inhibitor of HIV at dosages as low as only 1 mcg/ml[
The plant has long been used by the indigenous peoples of the rainforest to cure a wide range of common ailments[
]. In modern herbal use it is valued primarily as a tonic, bitter, febrifuge, and stomachic, with a particularly beneficial effect upon the liver and digestive system. It is used primarily to treat liver diseases, to strengthen stomach and intestinal function, and to help purge obstructions of the liver and gallbladder[
]. It is also used to treat a range of other conditions including malaria, diabetes, stomach ulcers, sore throat and tonsillitis, angina, anaemia, diarrhoea, indigestion, dropsy, urinary inflammation, kidney disorders, intestinal worms, leprosy, and poor blood circulation[
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