Common Name: Contribo
Also known as: Dutchman’s Pipe, Bejuco de Santiago (Vine of St. James), Calico Vine, Liana couresse, Pipe vegetale, Six Sixty-six, Tref, Trefle caraibe, Twef and Birthwort.
Scientific Name: Aristolachia trilobatas, Aristolochia grandiflora
Similar plants to the contribo which are of the same family and often used interchangeably are:
- Aristolochia arborea (Aristolochia Tree)
- Aristolochia brasiliensis (Aristolochia)
- Aristolochia durior (Dutchman’s Pipe)
- Aristolochia fimbriata (Fringed Aristolochia, Fringed Dutchman’s Pipe)
- Aristolochia gigantea (Calico Flower, Pelican Flower)
- Aristolochia gilbertii (Dutchman’s Pipe)
- Aristolochia grandiflora (Calico Flower, Pelican Flower)
- Aristolochia leuconeura (Pipe Flower)
- Aristolochia littoralis, Aristolochia elegans (Elegant Dutchmans Pipe, Calico Flower)
- Aristolochia maxima (Dutchman’s Pipe)
Family Name: Aristolochiaceae
Growth Habit: Vine
South America, Caribbean esp. Lesser Antilles (Found in the Lesser Antilles in Antigua, Bequia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent). The plant has been said to also grow in warmer regions of the United States of America such as Oakland, California, Cape Coral, Florida and San Antonio, Texas.
Contribo is a vine plant of the aristolochiaeceae family. It grows up to 3 meters long (tall). The vine characteristically has a strong odour. The leaves are dark green in colour with three lobes and it has a rough bark that peels off quite easily. Direct sunlight scorches the leaves of new plants indicating that there is little tolerance to direct sunlight. It was noted to flower and produce seeds between March and April each year.
Contribo is used for energy or fighting fatigue, increasing appetite and circulation and improving the health of the immune system. It is used to address flus, colds, constipation, indigestion, depression, stomach aches, parasites, delayed menstruation and non-insulin dependent diabetes.
It is cultivated in French Guiana as a medicinal plant (Moretti 104, 993). They use the leaves for mosquito and snake bites, and to address liver problems and malaria.
In Belize Contribo is used for flus, colds, constipation, fevers, stomach aches, indigestion, gastritis and parasites.
Preparation and Dosage
Powdered root: dose 2-4 grams. 2-3 times daily. (Bartram’s ref. Aristolochia longa L., Aristolochia clematis L., Aristolochia indica L.)
In Belize, contribo is soaked initially in warm water for at least for 24 hours at room temperature. Half a glass of the resulting tea can be drank once a week to boost the immune system. It is also combined with other herbs such as sarsaparilla to make a tonic.
For Fever, lack of appetite – 1 small handful of chopped vine in 3 cups of water is boiled for 10 minutes. Dose: 1/4 cup in the morning and evening.
For snake bites – 1 3-inch piece of the root along with sarsaparilla root are smashed in 1 quart of water and the person is encouraged to drink a lot of it counteract the poison. (Balick, Arvigo)
To remove excess mucus in the prostrate and uterus – 1 handful of contribo is chopped, along with 1/2 handful of Billy Webb (Acosmium panamensis), 1 handful Wild Yam tuber (Dioscorea bartlettii), 1 handful chopped Balsam bark (Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae), 1/2 handful peeled raw peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) and 2 1-inch x 1-inch Pine resin or Pine wood (Pinus caribaea) combined in a container covered with Anise (Pimpinella anisum) liquor or Beefeater gin soaked for 14 days. Dose: 1/8 cup is consumed twice daily (morning and evening before bed). After 1 week the patient will pass strings of mucus. Break for 1 week and continue for another week. Continue alternate weeks until mucus stop coming out.
Contribo is one of the ingredients in Dr Sebi’s Iron Plus formula.
The aristolochic acid in Aristolochia spp. is known to cause kidney damage or failure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to immediately discontinue use of any botanical products containing aristolochic acid.
It should not be consumed by pregnant women.
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seed heads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Contribo and various species of the aristolochia plant have been used for centuries by local people in many parts of the world. As such, it is necessary to take note of proper usage and dosages as given by those who have experience with the herb. Generally, it is used in smaller quantities for short periods of time.
Where to buy contribo? Check out our ‘Where to buy herbs‘ page.
Ethnobotanical and Floristic Research in Belize: Accomplishments, Challenges and Lessons Learned, Michael J. Balick, Hugh O’Brien
Medicinal plants used by the Rastafarian community in Belize, Yakini Arzu, Thippi Thiagarajan
Bertram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Thomas Bartram
Messages from the Gods: A Guide to Useful Plants of Belize, Michael J. Balick, Rosita Arvigo
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