Natural Healing — Palo Azul

Eysenhardtia polystachya Photo credit: Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata

Palo azul (Eysenhardtia polystachya) is also known as palo dulce, palo cuate, cualaldulce, varadulce, and taray by the Tarascans. In Nahuatl, it’s either referred to as cohuatli or tlapalezpatli and in English, it’s Mexican kidneywood. Wood from this small shrub with white flowers, aromatic leaves, and red seedpods was used by the Aztecs primarily to treat kidney problems. It was also a key ingredient in a hiccup remedy and included in another to reduce fever.  

In some areas of Mexico, palo azul bark is used to treat pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown this traditional use to be valid. It has also been found to have good anti-diabetic activity reducing renal damage caused by diabetes and inhibiting hyperglycemic, hyperlipidemic, and oxidative stress. Its use in the treatment of infection, diarrhea, inflammation, and pain are supported as well. 

Other traditional remedies call for palo azul to treat toothache, cavities, periodontal disease, and gingivitis. Palo azul has antibacterial properties and is effective against both Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. It also has moderate cancer fighting properties.

Tea made from Eysenhardtia polystachya is phosphorescent under the right light. The fluorescent compound that causes this is not found in the plant itself, but occurs after a certain flavonoid oxidizes. Some research has been done on using palo azul as a fluorescent biomarker in early-stage cancer diagnosis and pathogen detection procedures and well as drug delivery monitoring since it is non-toxic.

Palo Azul Kidney Cleanse Infusion

  • Soak a handful of woodchips overnight in 1 liter of water. 
  • Drink a cup each morning before breakfast for 8 days with a squeeze of limón juice. (Citrus × aurantiifolia)

Palo Azul Cough Remedy

  • Soak a handful of woodchips until the liquid is a bright yellow/orange/bluish. 
  • Strain and drink as needed to reduce phlegm with a deep cough.


Interested in natural remedies? Uncover herbal remedies from traditional Mexican sources for healing and wellness in the Exploring Traditional Herbal Remedies in Mexico series.

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Filed under Health, Native fauna and flora, Natural Healing

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