Boldo is an evergreen shrub native to central Chile and Peru. The leaves of the boldo shrub have a long history of use in folk medicine. You can brew them into a tea to drink for a variety of health-promoting purposes. As with any herbal product, however, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner before drinking boldo tea.
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Boldo leaves contain numerous phytochemicals including boldine, camphor, limonene, beta-pinene and coumarin. Phytochemicals are potent antioxidant compounds found naturally in plants that help to prevent and treat disease in humans. The antioxidants in boldo leaves can help to reduce free radical-induced damage to your cells and DNA. According to Phyllis Balch in her book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," boldo leaves have diuretic, laxative, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. The exact mechanism of action of boldo is unknown, but Rain-tree.com states that the primary active ingredient is likely the phytochemical boldine.
Liver, Gallbladder and Digestive Health
In North America, boldo is arguably best known as a liver tonic and for its ability to stimulate the production of bile. The tea may help to treat a variety of liver and gallbladder-related disorders such as jaundice, hepatitis and gallstones. The tea is also used to stimulate the appetite, enhance digestion, promote bowel health and relieve flatulence and constipation.
Traditional Uses of Boldo Leaves
Rain-tree.com notes that boldo has been used traditionally to treat insomnia, dizziness, rheumatism, cystitis, stomach cramps and earaches. It is also purported to help thin the blood and thereby prevent blood clots. In addition, boldo leaves are said to exhibit antimicrobial activity, meaning they can help to prevent and treat infections caused by harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Due to its purported antimicrobial activity, boldo tea is used to expel worms and to treat colds, syphilis and gonorrhea. These uses are based primarily on anecdotal reports and not scientific evidence, however.
How to Make the Tea and Important Precautions
To make boldo tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried leaves, infuse for 10 to 15 minutes and drink three times per day. Rain-tree.com warns that you should not use boldo tea for prolonged periods of time, and large doses of boldo may cause paralysis and even death. Drugs.com adds that boldo is contraindicated in those with kidney disorders, liver disease and who are on blood-thinning drugs. In addition, the herb appears to stimulate uterine contractions and therefore should not be used by pregnant women because of its potential to induce abortion.