As funny as this sounds, the Gumbo Limbo tree is referred to as the tourist tree because of its peeling and reddish bark resembling the skin of sunburnt sightseers! Not to be confused with the New Orleans dish, gumbo limbo proposes a variety of health benefits.
From relieving back pains to curing urinary tract infections, it’s no wonder as to why this tree is considered the herbal Jack of all trades.
Botanical Name and Family of Gumbo Limbo
Gumbo limbo is known botanically as Bursera simaruba, which is the most common species in the Bursera genus. This genus consists of over 100 different plants that grow in the tropical areas of the Americas.
Gumbo limbo belongs to the Burseraceae or Torchwood family and has been referred to as copperwood, chaca and simaruba.
What Is Gumbo Limbo?
Gumbo limbo is a tree that is native to the Caribbean islands and the tropical regions of North and South America. This auburn-colored tree produces a resin that natural healers use to treat gout.
This tree was used as a delicacy among many Maya tribes in Central America because of its healing capabilities. Interesting enough, the Huastec Mayans even believe that the gumbo tree predicts rain by blossoming.
Active Ingredients Found in Gumbo Limbo
This particular tree contains compounds such as yatein, hinokinin, beta peltatin, glucopyranoside and bursehernin.
Health Benefits of Gumbo Limbo
Gumbo limbo has numerous medicinal benefits, according to tribal practitioners, as it has been used to treat digestive problems such as a stomach upset, dysentery and diarrhea. It was also used to deal with edema, malaria and fever and used by women to induce a miscarriage.
Gumbo limbo can also help treat the following ailments:
- Back pain
- Sore throats
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Poison ivy
Different Ways to Use Gumbo Limbo
A medicinal tea is prepared from the leaves of this tree. The leaves contain hexane extracts, which is proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. The bark of this tree proposes medical benefits and the arils have been eaten in large quantities by birds — a good sign that they must have some nutritional value to them.
For industrial uses, gumbo limbo has been a popular choice for building a living fence and it has been used to produce drums in Haiti.
Side Effects of Gumbo Limbo
Gumbo limbo is safe for use and no side effects have been reported. However, in large doses, it leads to vomiting, which is why it is recommended to follow the directions that are listed on any products made from the gumbo limbo tree. Always seek medical advice before consuming an herbal remedy to make sure it’ll be beneficial for you.
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Maldini M, Montoro P, Piacente S, Pizza C. Phenolic compounds from Bursera simaruba Sarg. bark: Phytochemical investigation and quantitative analysis by tandem mass spectrometry. Phytochemistry. 2009 Mar;70(5):641-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.02.009. Epub 2009 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 19329133.