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Essential oil from the bark of Mexico's "paradise tree" found to have antimicrobial ..


(Natural News) Despite the various medical discoveries that are reported regularly, there are still individuals who rely on folk medicine. For example, infusions from the bark of the paradise tree (Bursera morelensis) is used to treat skin infections and heal wounds.

Now, a group of scientists from Mexico has released the results of their study concerning the healing properties of the paradise tree, also called "Aceitillo," a tree native to the country.

The genus Bursera is made up of at least 100 species distributed from the south of the U.S. to Peru. Aside from their aromatic properties, Bursera is used to treat "diarrhea, fever, gingivitis, cough, and measles." (Related: More "folk medicine" holds up under scientific scrutiny: The fruit of an evergreen tree in Bangladesh found to reduce fever, pain, inflammation.)

The chemical profile of the genus Bursera includes "essential oils, triterpenes, steroids, bilignans, podophyllotoxin-like lignans, and flavonoids." In the phytochemical studies of B. morelensis, two lignans with cytotoxic activity were identified along with terpenoids in the volatile fraction from the bark.

Although Mexico has a large diversity of Bursera species, the studies are very limited. The relationship between the antimicrobial activity and the chemical composition of the essential oil of B. morelensis is detailed in this study for the first time.

For this study, B. morelensis was obtained from San Rafael, Coxcatlan, Puebla, in Oct. 2013. San Rafael is a village in the municipality of Coxcatlan and located southeast of the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Valley. The study involved a "phytochemical and antimicrobial investigation of the essential oil of B. morelensis." The researchers obtained essential oil from the plant via a steam distillation method and it was analyzed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to determine the antibacterial and antifungal properties of the paradise tree.

Based on the test results, paradise tree essential oil contains 28 compounds. The principal compound of the essential oil was α-Phellandrene (32.69 percent), and the essential oil had antibacterial activity against Gram positive and negative strains. The most sensitive strains were S. pneumoniae, V. cholerae., and E. coli. The essential oil was "bactericidal" for V. cholera, and it inhibited all the filamentous fungi.

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