• Second Opinion Magazine

Sangre de Grado: Medicinal Plant of the Rainforest


The rainforests today have evolved over millions of years, creating a complex, bio-diverse, living and breathing renewable resource for the survival and well-being of humankind. The inner dynamics of the rainforests are so intricate, fragile, and interdependent, that when one part is destroyed, it can have a devastating effect on the rainforest as a whole. What Mother Nature has taken millions of years to create, has taken only a century for humankind to destroy.

Why is Biodiversity of the Rainforest Important to Humankind?

Rainforests occupy less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface and only 6 percent of the Earth’s land surface. Yet, the lush rainforests support over half of the planet’s wild plants, trees, and wildlife. With the devastation of the rainforest, hundreds of thousands of rainforest species are being extinguished before they are even identified and studied.

If the devastation continues at the present rate, scientists estimate nearly 80 to 90 percent of tropical rainforest ecosystems will be destroyed by 2020. That’s less than 10 years!

The Amazon Rainforest is the Last Frontier on Earth, the world’s greatest remaining natural resource, and the most powerful and bioactive diverse natural phenomenon on the planet. The Amazon Rainforest is the “Lungs of the Planet”, producing more than 20 percent of the oxygen we breath. It is estimated that a single hectare (2.47 acres) of the Amazon Rainforest contains 900 tons of living plants and trees — nature’s medicine for humankind.

Blood of the Dragon, Current Practical Uses

One of the most versatile trees from the rainforest ecosystem is the Sangre de Grado tree, known as “blood of the dragon” in Peru and “dragon’s blood” in Ecuador. The tree grows to a height of 20 to 30 meters, having a trunk diameter of 30 cm. It is covered by smooth, mottled bark, and has large, pear shaped, bright green leaves and unique, greenish white flowers on long stalks.

When the trunk of the Sangre de Grado tree is cut or wounded, a dark red sappy resin oozes out, as if the tree is bleeding, thus the name “blood of the dragon.” For centuries, the indigenous tribes have used the curative powers of the Sangre de Grado sap to paint on bleeding wounds to stop the bleeding and accelerate healing.

Traditional medicine uses today are much the same. In Peruvian herbal medicine, the Sangre de Grado is suggested for hemorrhaging, for antiseptic vaginal douche, and topical application for bleeding wounds. The sap is also suggested for internal use for ulcers in the mouth, throat, intestinal tract, and stomach; as an antiviral for upper respiratory issues, stomach viruses, and HIV; internally and topically for cancer and tumors; topically for skin disorders, insect bites and stings; hemorrhoids, infected gums and toothaches.


“There is a wide range of potential applications for Sangre de Grado, including use as a broad-spectrum anti-diarrheal agent from causes such as side effects of drugs, chemotherapy or radiation treatment, microbial infections of the intestinal track, traveler’s diarrhea, and viral-induced diarrhea as in AIDS. It may also have other uses in gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative diseases. Its cytotoxic effects make it a possible anti-tumor agent and its cicatrizant properties provide wound-healing potential. In addition, the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of Sangre de Grado make it a useful compound in the clinical treatment of chronic viral disease and natural antibacterial agent.” (The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, by Leslie Taylor, ND, 2005, pg 410).

Other natural health practitioners indicate the benefits of Sangre de Grado for diabetic neuropathy and its effects on nerve endings, nerve pain, and nerve inflammation. Benefits have also been reported for diabetes related skin ulcers and sores when applied topically.

Plant Chemicals

So what makes the Sangre de Grado such a powerful healing aid? The sap is a storehouse of phytochemicals, including proanthocyanidins for fighting free radical damage from a variety of stress factors. Anthocyanidins are often responsible for the color in plants, providing protection from the damaging effects of the sun.

Beneficial properties of the sap also include alkaloid taspines, which increase the migration of fibroblast cells responsible for skin and tissue regeneration (for humans and animals). Sangre de Grado is a necessity in the first aid kit for the indigenous people for helping to quickly heal wounds from machete injuries while sustainably harvesting the treasures of the rainforest.

Sange de Grado demonstrates the morphism relationship quite nicely. Morphism is the relationship between the utilization of the herb and its physical shape, which is reminiscent of the organ it supports. Sangre de Grado is red like blood and it helps to stop bleeding. The leaf of the tree is heart shaped and the sap contains the strongest natural antioxidant to support cardiac function.

Profits Without Destruction

Is the preservation of the Amazon rainforest the Key to North America’s health woes? Long regarded as hocus-pocus by science, the empirical plant knowledge of the indigenous people and their shamans, is now thought by many to be the Amazon’s new “gold.”

Sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants, fruits, nuts, rubber, chocolate, and other renewable and sustainable resources, yield the landowners of the rainforest $2,400 per acre. The sustainable resources, not the destruction of trees to clear land for farming and drilling, are the true wealth of the rainforest for the survival of the rainforest and its indigenous people and messengers for the plants, the shamans.

Today, the tribes and communities of the rainforest earn five to ten times more in money by wild-harvesting instead of chopping down the rainforest to grow subsistence crops like corn and soybeans, or for oil drilling. This income provides the awareness and economic incentive for the indigenous tribes to protect and preserve the rainforest for long term profits for now and for generations to come. Sustainable, wild-harvesting of the botanicals for medicinal use is an important solution in saving the rainforest and preserving the quality of oxygen we breathe today and for our generations to come.

Sustainable, wild-harvesting is an important solution for providing modern day tools to help cleanse, nourish, and balance the body systems in the cycle and process of healing.

Copyright© 2010 Paula Quinlan, Paula Quinlan Consulting. All rights reserved. Paula Quinlan, Body Ecologist, is certified in nutritional nutriscopy, aromatherapy, and Reiki energy healing. She is an educator and professional speaker. She offers one-on-one consultations, showcases, workshops, and presentations to help people reshape and revive their body ecology and cleanse the temple for their Spirit. For more information she can be contacted at 612.719.9228 or emailed at paula@paulaquinlan.com. Her website is www.paulaquinlan.com.

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