Croton angularis Klotzsch ex Baill.
Croton urceolatus Baill.
Oxydectes salutaris (Casar.) Kuntze
Common Name: Sangre De Grado
Croton salutaris is a tree that grows from 10- 20 metres tall. The bole is usually less than 30cm in diameter. When the trunk of the tree is cut or wounded, a dark red, sappy resin oozes out as if the tree is bleeding[
The sap is a popular and effective herbal treatment, and so it is commonly harvested from the wild for both local use and for trade.
S. America - southeastern Brazil.
Most Croton species are relatively indifferent to their habitat and can grow on a wide range of soils in both disturbed and undisturbed vegetation[
This species is one of several that supply a red resin from their stem. This resin, often known as 'Dragon's Blood' is often used as an external application to treat a range of skin problems and injuries[
]. Dragon's Blood can be obtained from several species in this genus, as well as from three other distinct genera - Dracaena species, Daemonorops species and Pterocarpus species[
Sangre de grado is a common name for several trees in the genus Croton - all have a red sap and can be used interchangeably. The red sap or latex (and also its bark) has a long history of indigenous use in the rainforest and in South America. The curative power of the sap was widely known throughout the indigenous tribes of Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador. Modern research has shown that it is a very effective treatment for a wide range of injuries and disorders, particularly relating to the skin; both internal and external ulcers; is an effective antiviral and also helps in the treatment of tumours[
The resin or sap is a storehouse of phytochemicals including proanthocyanidins (antioxidants), simple phenols, diterpenes, phytosterols, and biologically active alkaloids and lignans Scientists have attributed many of the biologically active properties of the sap (especially its wound-healing capacity) to two main 'active' constituents: an alkaloid named taspine, and a lignan named dimethylcedrusine[
Taspine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antitumour and antiviral actions, and to be active against the herpes virus[
The lignan ‘dimethylcedrusine’ has been shown to play a central role in the resin’s effective wound-healing action. The study revealed that the crude resin stimulated contraction of wounds, helped in the formation of a crust/scab at the wound site, regenerated skin more rapidly, and assisted in the formation of new collagen[
Other phytochemicals, including phenolic compounds, proanthocyanadins, and diterpenes, have shown potent antibacterial activity (against E. Coli and Bacillus subtilis) as well as wound-healing properties[
]. Research has shown that the resin is a potent, cost-effective treatment for gastrointestinal ulcers and distress via antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and sensory afferent-dependent actions[
The resin has also shown an in vitro effect against stomach cancer and colon cancer cells[
]. It inhibits the growth of a human myelogenous leukaemia cell line and also prevents cells from mutating in test tube studies[
The stems and leaves contain the alkaloid 'salutaridine', which is an important intermediate in the biosynthesis of morphine alkaloids[
The sap is antibacterial, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, antipruritic, antitumor, haemostatic and vulnerary[
]. It is used internally in the treatment of intestinal and stomach ulcers; upper respiratory viruses; stomach viruses; and HIV. For internal use, the traditional remedy is 10 - 15 drops in a small amount of liquid, taken 1-3 times daily (be prepared, however; it tastes quite dreadful)[
It is taken as a douche for relieving vaginal discharge[
The sap is painted on wounds to staunch bleeding, to accelerate healing, and to seal and protect injuries from infection[
]. The sap dries quickly and forms a barrier, much like a ‘second skin’. It is used as a treatment on wounds, insect bites and stings, fractures, and haemorrhoids., Other uses include treating inflamed or infected gums, in vaginal baths before and after childbirth, for haemorrhaging after childbirth, and for a wide range of skin disorders[
For external use, the resin is rubbed directly on the affected area several times daily and allowed to dry. Please note: the resin is red! It will temporarily stain the skin a reddish-brown (which will wash off), but it will permanently stain clothing. Rubbing the resin in the palm of the hand first or directly where applied will thicken the resin into a thin, lighter coloured paste, which helps form a second skin on top of a wound or rash and reduces staining[
The leaves are depurative, febrifuge and stomachic[
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