Guazuma ulmifolia

scientific name: 
Guazuma ulmifolia Lam.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Tree deciduous up to 16 m tall with spreading branches. Leaves alternate 20 cm x 7 cm, lanceolate to ovate, unequal at the base, margins crenate-dentate, hairy from sub-glabrous to tomentose; inflorescence axillary in panicles, flowers 3 mm with five yellow-green petals, fragrant; fruit black, woody, warty, sub-globose 1-2 cm in diameter with the faint smell of molasses, seeds numerous.


Rouzier,192,SOE Pimentel,1164,JBSD


  withered leaf (senescent), decoction with sugar, orally1


  withered leaf (senescent), decoction with sugar, orally1


  withered leaf (senescent), decoction with sugar, orally1

For flu, common cold and cough:

Prepare a decoction with 12 grams of old leaf in 1 liter (4 cups) of water, boil for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot.  Filter, leave to cool down and drink 1 cup 3-4 times a day15-16.

According to published and other information:

Use for flu, common cold and cough is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies and available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the cough last more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

TRAMIL Research13

The aqueous extract from the dried leaf administered orally to mice (25 g/kg) did not produce evidence of toxicity; the LD50 intraperitoneally was 5.975 ± 0.193 g/kg.  The decoction from the dried leaf (1 g of leaf/mL of extract), administered orally to mice (18.75 g/kg) every 12 hours for 28 days, caused neither mortality nor evident toxicity signs.

TRAMIL Research5

The decoction of the senescent leaf (12 g/L) administered to two groups of patients with common cold for 7 consecutive days (720 mL/day) caused neither toxicity signs nor clinically evidenced intolerance.

TRAMIL Research17-18(will be translated in 3rd Edition)

La hoja seca y la corteza del tallo fresca, machacados, por vía tópica (parche con 0.6 g/6 cm2 de piel/4 horas), modelo de irritabilidad dérmica aguda de Draize, a conejos albinos Nueva Zelanda (3 hembras), se retiró el parche a las 4 horas y se lavó el área, se hicieron las lecturas de eritema y edema a 1, 24, 48 y 72 horas, mostraron un índice de 0.0 que clasifica como no irritante.

The intake of large amounts of the various plant parts may cause nausea and vomiting14.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in women when breast feeding.

TRAMIL Research2

Preliminary phytochemical screening (leaf)







phenolic comp.:






steroids, terpenoids:




The leaf contains alkaloids: caffeine (2.17%)3.

The bark contains flavonoids: epicatechin and procyanidin derivatives4.

TRAMIL Research5

In a preliminary double-blind test, the decoction of the senescent leaf (12 g/L) was administered to 15 patients with common cold (240 mL every 8 hours), controlled against two groups of 10 patients that received Cymbopogon citratus leaf syrup or simple syrup (placebo).  Exclusion criteria were: presence of leukocytosis in peripheral blood (>10000/mm3), persons younger than 20 or older than 64 years of age, and persons suffering from a cold that had lasted more than three days.

The administration of the decoction of the senescent leaf did not shorten the evolution of the ailment (average = 6 days); however, it improved expectoration, compared to patients receiving the placebo.  These results were comparable to those from the group receiving Cymbopogon citratus syrup.

TRAMIL Research6

The ethanolic extract (10%) from the dried leaf showed antimicrobial activity in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacilus subtilis at 100 µL/disk; and against Shigella dysenteriae at 150 µL.  The aqueous extract from the withered leaf (10%) did not show antimicrobial activity.

TRAMIL Research7

The ethanolic extract (80%) from the leaf, obtained through percolation and defatting with petroleum ether, did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans or Aspergillus niger.

TRAMIL Research8

Various extracts from the dried leaf made with polar solvents, when tested in vitro (2 mg/mL) on an agar plate showed no activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC27853,Salmonella typhi ATCC14028 and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC6558 or against Aspergillus flavus CQA75, Microsporum gypseum CQM71, Candida albicans ATCC10231 or Cryptococcus neoformans C13.  They were also inactive against epimastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi.

The alcoholic extract (95%) from the dried leaf in vitro caused cytotoxic activity by inhibiting cellular growth by 95% in the CA-9KB experimental model9.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the leaf (750 µg/mL)inhibited prostaglandin synthesis in vitro10.

Caffeine is claimed to be effective as a systemic and respiratory stimulant, analeptic and diuretic11; it is known for its uses as a stimulant of the central nervous system and bronchodilator12.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 WENIGER B, SAVARY H, DAGUIHL R, 1984 Tri phytochimique de plantes de la liste TRAMIL. Laboratoire de chimie des substances naturelles, Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université d'Etat d'Haïti, Port au Prince, Haïti.

3 WONG W, 1976 Some folk medicinal plants from Trinidad. Econ Bot30:103-142.

4 HOR M, HEINRICH M, RIMPLER H, 1996 Proanthocyanidin polymers with antisecretory activity and proanthocyanidin oligomers from Guazuma ulmifolia bark. Phytochemistry 42(1):109-119.

5 CARBALLO A, 1995 Plantas medicinales del Escambray cubano. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

6 GIRON L, 1988 Evaluación de la actividad antibacteriana de 4 plantas de la lista TRAMIL. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos USAC, Guatemala, Guatemala.

7 GUPTA M, ESPOSITO AVELLA M, 1988 Evaluación química y farmacológica de algunas plantas medicinales de TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

8 CACERES A, GONZALEZ S, GIRON L, 1998 Demostración de la actividad antimicrobiana de plantas tramil en base a los usos populares en la cuenca del Caribe. Laboratorio de productos fitofarmacéuticos Farmaya y Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala, Guatemala. 22pp.

9 NASCIMENTO S, CHIAPPETA A, LIMA R, 1990 Antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities in plants from Pernambuco, Brazil. Fitoterapia 61(4):353-355.

10 TSENG C, IWAKAMI S, MIKAJIRI A, SHIBUYA M, HANAOKA F, EBIZUKA Y, PADMAWINATA K, SANKAWA U, 1992 Inhibition of in vitro prostaglandin and leukotriene biosyntheses by cinnamoyl-beta-phenethylamine and N-acyldopamine derivatives. Chem Pharm Bull 40(2):396-400.

11 NEGWER M, 1987 Organic chemical drugs and their synonyms (an international survey). 6º ed. Berlin, Germany: Akademie Verlag.

12 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

13 HERRERA J, 1990 Determinación de parámetros farmacológicos en vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional en la Cuenca del Caribe. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de fitofarmacología, Departamento de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

14 HOEHNE FC, 1939 Plantas e substâncias vegetais tóxicas e medicinais. São Paulo, Brazil: Dep. Bot. do Estado Sao-Paulo. Ed Graphicars.

15 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

16 CACERES A, 1996 Plantas de uso medicinal en Guatemala. Guatemala, Guatemala: Editorial Universitaria de San Carlos. p126.

17 MARTINEZ MJ, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2007 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de corteza del tallo fresco machacado deGuazuma ulmifolia Lam.Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.


Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de hoja seca machacada deGuazuma ulmifolia Lam. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.