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The Annatto Tree: Medical Uses, Benefits and Properties

Updated on September 9, 2015
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The Annatto Tree, The Bixa Orellana

The annatto tree, the Bixa orellana, the lipstick tree, this plant from the Bixaceae family has many names and attributes that we know little of. What I mean by this is that we understand that this small tree has many benefits and we have only found more of them throughout the years, making us questions just how much there is to this shrub that we still do not know of.

Known to be native of Central and South America, the annatto was introduced by the Spanish and can be found in some parts of Indo-China, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. There are other places where it can be found but those are the most common. It needs a warm climate and grows up to be about 10 meters. The fruit it produces is a small, cluster looking heart that has many red seeds inside it.

Although it was mostly used to produce vibrant lipstick for the body for rituals and dances, the properties and uses this plant has are numerous. The cluster cannot be used for much but the seeds are highly useful in many different areas. An admired feature of them that is worth mentioning is their healing capabilities. You would be astonished as to all the things these seeds do in your body once eaten.

Uses of the Seeds

The seeds are constantly referred to as the cleansing achiote. The body gets a full rinse of any and all parasites, bacteria's, viruses and germs, allowing for organs to benefit greatly. One of the best features of the tree is not only its many uses for the body but how much fruit it produces for being such a small tree. It bears about 35 to 50 of the small clusters, all filled with the seeds.

Some other parts of the plant that can be used for healing are the roots, leaves and shoots. The bark can also be used but is rarely utilized since most people would rather just eat the seeds. There are many who are still unaware of all the attributes and just how much of the tree we can actually take and benefit from. However, restaurants are known for taking the seeds for condiments or food coloring.

Potential of the Bixa Fruit

To fully realize the potential of the fruit, let's see about the most known and popular properties first shall we? Among these amazing things offered by the tree, we can find:

  • They can lower fevers
  • Increase Urination
  • Help alleviate inflammation
  • Aid in problems with the liver
  • Treat burns
  • Treat skin conditions and rashes
  • Has an amazing amount of antioxidants
  • A great level of fiber for an easy digestion
  • Can be used as a laxative
  • Dries any secretion
  • Stops phlegm a considerable amount
  • Reduces acid reflux
  • Lowers blood pressure, aiding people suffering from hypertension
  • Helps fight urinary infections
  • Helps against dysentery and diarrhea
  • Fights diabetes
  • Stops bleeding

Achiote Seeds

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I could go on and on but I think you get the point. The seeds and leaves are the ones to hold most of the properties but the roots and barks also serve as help in other areas. You can more often than not get any part of the tree in markets near you, may it be as powder, seeds, paste, food coloring or oil. The best seeds to get if you are considering buying them are the bright ones with much color still in them. If any of them are brown they have been out too long and are mostly too old for any real use.

There are also many supplements that are created with annatto trees. Since they have so much protein, Folate, Calcium and Sodium, people have begun to consume their seeds rather than get all these things from different sources throughout the day. It is also a great hunger quencher so it can serve as a healthy snack when in a time crunch and in need of a quick energy boost.

Now that we have mentioned all the great and amazing things we know about the tree so far, we have to come to the conclusion that there are some slight, small dangers when eating this fruit. Much like any other tree, there is some defense to it that could become an allergic reaction or problem to some people. This is most prominent in dairy products made with annatto. Many people will stop eating dairy altogether thinking that is what is causing them pain when it could actually just be the addition of the fruit.

Achiote Oil

Some of its medicinal properties should also be exploited with fair care and attention. These benefits may be highly useful but could result in a dangerous scenario for some. The most common case for things to go awry when consuming annatto is when people affected with hypertension eat it to lower their blood pressure. There are two sides to the argument about if it is safe to do this or not. The only real solution to this debate is to only eat it or get it into your diet once after you have consulted with a doctor or health and dietary professional. Many things vary between people so to some it could be potentially harmful while to others it could be a cheap gift that rids them of the complication.

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National Medical Report On Vitamin E

There are people who face allergic reactions and then there are those who have not stopped praising the annatto tree after coming into contact with it. If you are ever to eat it just be careful and eat small amounts at first to see what happens. Pregnant women should also practice extreme care with it but should never be afraid of it. Annatto is in fact a fruit that we consider to be one of the most helpful because of its many health properties so fear really is not the emotion we should have towards it.

We just have to see it for what it is and embrace it bit by bit. This could potentially turn our lives around so it does not hurt to try it. If you want to be completely safe, be close to herbal specialists or doctors while eating it and hope for the best. I think that may be a bit much but who knows really. All that is undeniable about the annatto is that it helps more than it damages and we need to consider it as an amazing addition to our life.

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