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Chapote

( Casimiroa edulis )

 

Family

Rutaceae

 

Synonyms

Zapote blanco, matasano, cacchique, cochitzapoti

 

Character

Sedative, hypotensive

 

Description

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.

 

Phytochemistry

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.

 

Authentication

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.

 

Safety

No undesirable effects have been noted from ingesting this plant; however, long-term studies have not yet been conducted.

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