General Practice 2022

Espinheira-santa: what is it for and how to make chá

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Espinheira-santa: what is it for and how to make chá
Espinheira-santa: what is it for and how to make chá

Espinheira-santa is a medicinal plant of the Maytenus ilicifolia species, rich in flavonoids, tannins and triterpenes, which have antioxidant, healing and gastric protective properties, being, therefore, popularly used as a home remedy to assist in the treatment of gastric ulcer, heartburn, gastritis, acne or eczema.

The normally used part of the espinheira-santa is the leaves from which the active substances are extracted that can be used in the form of tea, compresses, fluid extract or capsules, found in herbalists or natural product stores.

Although it has he alth benefits, the use of this medicinal plant does not replace medical treatment and should always be done under the guidance of a doctor, or another he alth professional who has experience with the use of medicinal plants.

What is it for

Because of its medicinal properties, espinheira-santa is usually indicated for:

1. Improve stomach problems

Espinheira-santa is rich in tannins, such as epigallocatechin, and polysaccharides, such as arabinogalactan, with strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and gastric protective action, which help to improve stomach problems such as gastric ulcer, heartburn, gastritis, poor digestion or stomach pain.

This is because the active substances in espinheira santa help to reduce stomach acidity and protect the stomach from the acid it produces, relieving gastric symptoms such as pain or a burning sensation in the stomach.

Furthermore, some studies [1, 2] carried out with rats in the laboratory also show that espinheira-santa has an effect similar to cimetidine, a drug used to reduce production of stomach acid.

2. Fighting H. pylori

Some studies [3, 4] show that espinheira-santa also has antibacterial action, being very useful to fight H. Pylori infection, which can cause lesions and stomach ulcers.

3. Assist in the treatment of cancer

Studies [4] using lung, breast and liver cancer cells showed that espinheira santa can decrease the proliferation of cancer cells, due to the presence of the triterpenoid pristimerine. However, more studies in humans are still needed to prove this benefit.

4. Improve intestinal functioning

Espinheira-santa can help improve intestinal functioning by having a mild laxative action. In this way, drinking tea from this plant can help treat cases of mild to moderate constipation.

5. Has diuretic action

Espinheira santa has a mild diuretic action, which means that it eliminates excess fluids from the body, which can be useful to assist in the treatment of fluid retention, but also in the treatment of urinary infections, as it maintains the clean urinary.

6. Help with skin healing

Espinheira santa has analgesic and healing action, which when used on the skin, can help in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema or acne.

7. Fight bacterial infections

Some in vitro studies [6, 7] carried out in the laboratory show that espinheira-santa has substances with antimicrobial action such as maitenin and friedelin, which help to fight bacteria such as:

  • Staphylococcus aureus, which causes lung, skin and bone infections;
  • Streptococcus sp., which causes urinary, skin, or gum infection;
  • Escherichia coli, which causes urinary tract infection;

In addition, espinheira santa also has action against the fungus Aspergillus nigrans that can cause aspergillosis. Know what aspergillosis is.

How to use

Espinheira-santa can be used in the form of tea or capsules, prepared with the dried or fresh leaves of the plant.

1. Espinheira-santa tea

Espinheira-santa tea must be prepared with the dried leaves of this plant and used for a maximum period of 6 months of treatment, according to medical advice.


  • 1 teaspoon of dried espinheira-santa leaves;
  • 1 cup of water.

Preparation mode

Add the espinheira santa leaves and water in a bowl and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Strain and drink warm, up to 3 times a day, on an empty stomach, or about 30 minutes before meals.

2. Espinheira-santa capsules

Espinheira-santa capsules can be found in a dose of 380 mg of dry extract of Maytenus ilicifolia leaves and should be taken whole with a glass of water, without opening the capsules or chewing them.

The normally recommended dose is 2 capsules of 380 mg of espinheira-santa, 3 times a day, that is, every 8 hours, before the main meals.

3. Espinheira-santa fluid extract

The fluid extract of espinheira-santa should be taken orally, and the recommended dose is 15 to 20 drops diluted in 200ml of water, 3 times a day after meals, or as recommended by a doctor.

4. Espinheira-santa compresses

For skin problems such as eczema, scars or acne, hot compresses with espinheira-santa tea can be applied directly to the lesion.


  • 3 g of dried espinheira-santa leaves;
  • 150 mL of boiling water.

Preparation mode

Add dried espinheira-santa leaves to boiling water. Wait for it to cool and apply on the affected skin daily.

Possible side effects

The most common side effects that may arise when using Espinheira-Santa are dry mouth, nausea or altered taste, especially when used in larger amounts than recommended or for more than 6 months.

In addition, espinheira santa can cause allergic reactions and therefore, its use should only be done with medical advice or a he alth professional with experience in medicinal plants.

Who should not use

Espinheira-santa should not be used during pregnancy, as it can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage, and should not be used by breastfeeding women either, as it can reduce the amount of breast milk.

The plant should also be avoided by children under 12 years old or people who have a known allergy to espinheira-santa.

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