Rainforest Plants - Guaco
The leaves are large; those of the mikania laevigata species exude a vanilla aroma when crushed together.
'Guaco" is a common name, used for several species of mikania vines that look very similar and are used for similar purposes.
However, guaco plants are all thornless, shrubby vines reaching about two meters in height and sprawling out two meters in diameter.
Natives refer to any vine-like plant with a heart-shaped leaf that is white and green on the top and purple on the underneath, as a guaco; naturalists disagree and are more specific about the each species of guaco.
Location: The common name guaco is quite common; it is used for several species that look very similar and are used for similar purposes.
These include the South American M.
guaco species found in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador; M.
cordifolia, found throughout South America as well as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama; M.
glomerata, found mostly in Paraguay and Venezuela; and M.
laevigata, which has only been cataloged in Brazil.
Uses: Guaco is a popular and well known Brazilian herbal remedy for a variety of respiratory conditions.
Brazilian research validates much of its traditional uses but it is virtually unknown to North American consumers and health practitioners.
In current herbal medicine systems in Brazil in the form of a medicinal tea, it is used as an expectorant and cough suppressant employed for all types of upper respiratory problems including bronchitis, pleurisy, colds and flu, coughs, and asthma; as well as for sore throats, laryngitis, and fever.
In Central and South America, as well as the West Indies, this name is also to various plants belonging to the genera Willoughboea and Aristolochia.
Most of the medicinal properties are found in abundance in the Willoughboea genus.
This classification of plant chemicals has yielded some very biologically active antibacterial, insecticidal, anticancerous and antitumorous agents obtained from plants; the actual activities of the agents in guaco are still being researched.
Gauco is also known as huaco, guao, vejuco and bejuco.
Native Americans and Colombians believe that the guaco was named after a species of kite, in imitation of its cry, which they say it uses to attract the snakes which it feeds on.
Tradition says that the plant's powers were discovered through watching the bird eat the leaves, and even spread the juice on its wings, before attacking the snakes.
This vine grows best with moist and shady conditions, and has a distinct odor, which some tradition suggests may protect one from snakes.
Although this plant is not used in modern medicine in developed countries, it remains a well-known natural remedy for native medicine Disclaimer: The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Any reference to medicinal use is not intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.