Updated: Nov 19, 2018
Milagros, an 88 year old elder and friend who lives in Isabela, Puerto Rico LOVES the plants in her garden.
Still, it seemed like Aranto (The cute little succulent toting boat shaped leaves with teeth like edges and drooping pink or red bell flowers known as Aranto or Siempreviva (2), Yerba Bruja (3), Las Kalanchoes are some of the common names for this variety of succulents in the family of Crassulaceas classified as Bryophyllum X houghtonii, Bryophyllum pinnata Bryophyllum diagremontiana not forgetting it's old latin name Kalanchoe pinnatum (1)) was what she was most excited to share with me on our walk the other day.
“It’s used for cancer!” She exclaimed.
Milagros, not knowing anyone who was actually “cured of their cancer” from Aranto still was so excited to just share that one aspect of what she felt to be true of the little creature.
Apparently, just as inspired was the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who spoke of Aranto in an essay titled Geschichte meiner botanischen Studien "History of my botanical studies" as well as gifting plantlets of Aranto to all his friends (2).
World Wide Use
Indigenous amazonians and South Americans at large are also excited to share the values of Aranto which they endearingly call the “Miracle leaf”(3).
The uses of Aranto are far and wide. The Palikur, Brazilian indigenous heal migraines by mixing coconut oil and some of the juice from the leaves of Aranto (3). The people of Haiti roast the leaf for inflammations as well as in tumors and make a tea from the leaf for fevers (3). Ecuadorian indigenous Siona’s use the leaves for boils and ulcers and along the Pastaza river in Ecuador its used for broken bones and internal bruises(3). Peruvians soak the leaves in cold water overnight for fevers and heartburn(3). In Mexico, Aranto helps with childbirth and to help bring on a menstrual cycle(3). Maria Benedetti who spent time interviewing elders In Puerto Rico found through conversation “If a person has trouble breathing, warm three or four leaves of the life plant (la bruja) over some rising steam. Then squeeze the lead juice into a small saucepan with two cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. Add a pinch of salt before serving” (4). Squeezing of the warm juice into the ear is also said to helpful for earaches in Puerto Rico, the juice heals the inner ear and relieves pain according to folk tradition states Maria Benedetti (4).
Aranto’s phytochemical bufadienolide is shown to be anti-tumor, Its anti-parasitic activity is due to its presence of tannins (2). Aranto, allows easier healing from injuries due to its amount of flavonoids (2). It’s a great antioxidant and kidney protective due to its quercetin content. Extracts of Aranto has shown to kill Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas and Candida albicans (2).
Currently, Aranto is being marketed in beauty products as an additional conditioner for the skin and as a healing internal tonic.
The plant causes uterine contractions so never use it in pregnancy (2).
Eating too much of the plant is toxic so less is more!
With continued use of the plant there may be an immune-suppressing effect, so avoid in individuals who may have some form of immunosuppression and avoid chronic use (2).
Take a leaf of the plant, place it in a hot pan without oil, then extract the sap of the plant mix with the juice of the plant with 300ml of coconut oil and store in a cool dark place. The prepared oil helps with injuries and arthritic pain (1).
Aranto is a diverse plant with many potential healing abilities as it is used worldwide and considered miraculous. My suggestion begin with just enjoying a potted variety as part of the landscape in your house, but be warned against hybrids sold in the United States (3). In this case nothing is better than the real thing.
**Make sure to ask the advice of a licensed professional before considering its use**.
Riquezas Verdes: Selección De Plantas, Especies Aromáticas, Árboles Medicinales Y Sus Usos En Puerto Rico Evelyn Avilés - Createspace Independent Publishing - 2013
Kalanchoe Adans. ¿Por qué nos interesa conocerlas? Trabajo de Fin de Grado en Farmacia de: María del Pino Pérez González Curso: 2016-2017 Convocatoria: Septiembre:https://riull.ull.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/915/6741/Kalanchoe%20Adans.%20%C2%BFPor%20que%20nos%20interesa%20conocerlas.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
The Healing Power Of Rainforest Herbs: a Guide To Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinals Leslie Taylor - Squareone Pub. - 2005
Earth and Spirit: Medicinal Plants and Healing Lore from Puerto Rico-María Benedetti - Botanicultura - 2013
Milagros speaks briefly about the Aranto plant in her yard in Isabela, Puerto Rico
Note: According to Maria Benedetti, This Kalanchoe is a genus of many species, this particular specimen differs from the more common species in Puerto Rico Yerba Bruja. Also note, I nor Milagros the elder in this video has worked with this plant. This blog represents what is hearsay and what is in the literature.