( Casimiroa edulis )
Zapote blanco, matasano,
Chapote grows in subtropical
deciduous woodland areas common to Mexico and the West Indies. It is an
evergreen tree with broad, bright green leaves and an edible yellow-green
spherical fruit with a sweet pulp that ripens in June and July.
Over the last few decades, the
seeds, bark and leaves of this tree have been the subject of significant
scientific inquiry. Pharmacologically active compounds discovered include
casimiroine, casimirolide, zapotidine, zapoterine, sapotidine and
casimirodine. The plant also contains histadine and histamine.
Traditional rain forest use
The fruit of the chapote tree has
significant medicinal applications. For hundreds of years, chapote seeds
were used for their sedative properties. Mexican Indians referred to the
fruit as one which "produces sleep." The plant and its various parts have
also been used for centuries by the Nahoas for their tranquilizing effects.
Spaniard explorers referred tot he hypnotic properties of the leaves and
seeds of chapote, but it was never classified as narcotic drug.
Modern medicinal applications
Recent research suggests that the
ability of this herb to dilate blood vessels may be of value for the
treatment of high blood pressure. Singling out the compounds responsible for
this effect, as well as for the plant's sedative abilities, has been
difficult. At this writing, the use of this herb for high blood pressure has
been limited to local people. Ethnobotanical studies disclose that Mexican
people sue the seeds and leaves of this plant for the treatment of
hypertension with impressive results.
Decades ago medical doctors in
Mexican hospitals noticed that chapote was able to produce a marked decline
in blood pressure without altering brain function. The bioactive compounds
found in chapote remain relatively unknown. It has been studied for its
possible narcotic content, but nothing was ever found.
No undesirable effects have been
noted from ingesting this plant; however, long-term studies have not yet