Plant known as „Leather hat“ (Echinodorus spp. (Alismataceae) and its medicinal use in southwestern Mato Grosso, Brazil
Several plant species (>10) known as „Leather hat“ (Echinodorus spp. – Alismataceae) used in traditional medicine. We made field and laboratory studies and review on popular usage, occurrence and bioactivity of „Leather hat“ in Mato Grosso (MT), Brazil, from 2003–2007. The following species have been known to occur in MT: E. grandiflorus Mitch., E. lanceolatus Rataj, E. macrophyllus Kunth and E. teretoscapus Haynes. They prefer humid tropical conditions. The species E. grandiflorus and E. macrophyllus are also used as tea. Studies of ethnic knowledge in southwestern MT revealed that leaves of „Leather hat“ are used as antiophidic, antiseptic, diuretic, laxative, astringent, for gargling, washing sores, treat kidney, liver, arthritis, rheumatism, high blood pressure; roots – to treat atherosclerosis, hernia, boils; leaves and flowers – to treat syphilis, purgative; roots, leaves and flowers – for skin disorders. The healers collect the plant in the dry season, and indicate that E. grandiflorus and E. macrophyllus are used as tea, poultice, and tincture. Some scientific studies show significant results with „Leather hat“: leaf infusion confirmed analgesic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect in experimental animals; tea showed diuretic activity; aqueous extract of dried leaves of the plant showed abortifacient activity in rats; prolonged use can lower blood pressure; and tincture, in excessive dose, can cause diarrhea. „Leather hat“ has multi-use potential: medical, industrial, ornamental, ecological.
Acknowledgement: Fapemat team – for financial support; UNEMAT team – by institutional support; Colleagues of the research group FLOBIO- (Plants carrier of bioactive substances) who collaborated in this study.