Waltheria indica

PLANT NAME: Waltheria indica L.

OTHER NAMES OR SIMILARLY USED SPECIES: W. americana; W. africana; W. angustifolia; W. arborescens; W. corchorifolia; W. detonsa; W. douradinha, W. elliptica; W. erioclada; W. guineensis; W. laevis; W. microphylla; W. ovata; W. pyrolifolia; W. wildii; W. viscosissim.

COMMON NAMES: ‘Uhaloa, ‘uhuloa, hi’aloa [Hawai'i]; buff coat [Virgin Islands]; guimauve [Martinique, Guadeloupe]; friega plato, hierba de soldado [Panama]; manrubio o tapacola [Mexico].

FAMILY: Sterculiaceae (cocoa family).

CATEGORY: Clear heat and toxins ~.

PROPERTIES: Bitter, cool to cold, astringent ~.

PLANT PART USED: Whole plant. According to Hawaiian tradition, the yellow flowers are used for infants, the leaves and stems for young people, and the roots for adults. However, the whole plant is often used for adults.

PREPARATION OF MEDICINE: Buds chewed and given to children. Whole plant or roots decocted. Root bark chewed for sore throat. Whole plant juiced fresh for asthma, or as a bitter tonic.

STATUS IN HAWAI’I:Native plant. The rule of thumb when using non-threatened native Hawaiian plants is to give back to the ‘Ă„ina more than you take from her. Take only what you will use and use sparingly.

WESTERN FUNCTIONS REPORTED: Abortifacient [Ghana, Gold Coast]; anti diarrhea; depurative [Mexico]; emollient [Haiti]; purgative [South Africa]; sudorific [Venezuela]; prevents fever [Ghana].

TRADITIONAL CHINESE ENERGETIC FUNCTIONS (~ = extrapolated):

  • Clears damp heat ~

  • Clears heat and poison ~

  • Cools the blood ~

GATHERING:Easier to gather in lava cinders than in packed soils, you might have better luck on leeward sides. Some say ‘uhaloa is the kinolau (physical manifestation) of Kamapua’a, while others consider it the kinolau of Kanaloa.

RESEARCH: Inhibits HIV protease (branch, water extracted) [Miyashiro 1994].

CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: Nasty Tastin’! Not in pregnancy.

NOTES

  • ‘Uhaloa is one of our best native plant medicines for sore throats and a good primary herb for bronchial or bacterial infections. It is somewhat astringent, so it needs to be properly combined to effectively deal with sticky phlegm in the lungs (pa’a).