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Guaco (Mikania spp.) – Benefits and Uses


Scientific name: Mikania spp.

Species: cordifolia, glomerata, guaco, laevigata

Other names: Guaco, Huaco, Guao, Vejuco, Bejuco, Gwaco Bush

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Mikania


Anti-septic, anti-bacterial, tonic, depurative, hemostat, fungicide, cholagogue, febrifuge, laxative, aperative


Guaco’s constituents include coumarin, lupeol acetate o-hydroxy-cinnamic acid, kaurenoic acid, cinnamoylgrandifloric acid, stigmasterol, guacin and tannins.

Guaco is a significant source of the natural plant chemical, coumarin (up to 11% in some guaco plants). Coumarin is used to produce coumadin, which is a commonly used anticoagulant and blood-thinning drug. Lupeol has anti-inflammatory activity; kaurenoic acid is a potential antimicrobial, hypotensive, and anti-inflammatory; coumarin is an anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, antihypertensive, and antioxidant; and stigmasterol has antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, and hypocholesterolemic.

Parts used



In Brazil, ‘guaco’ is used as an effective natural bronchodilator, expectorant and cough suppressant used for all types of upper respiratory problems including bronchitis, pleurisy, colds and flu, coughs and asthma. It is also used for allergic conditions [1], sores, scabs, ulcers, worms, liver problems, stomach ulcers [2], athlete’s foot, tumours, constipation, cancer, infection and malaria [3].

Guaco bush is used as a cold remedy and a decoction of the leaves is also used to bathe the skin for itch or the fresh leaves are merely rubbed on. Several Mikania species have a reputation in Africa and South America as antidotes for snake bites, venereal disease, ophthalmia, rheumatism and gout, and dysentery. Both Beckwith and Steggerda reported its use in Jamaica for diarrhoea, while the former mentioned the use of a heated wad of leaves to relieve local pain and of a decoction for chest and stomach pains. The leaves contain a resinous substance guacin and tannins. [4]

Main actions: Suppresses coughs, expels phlegm (mucus), dilates bronchials, asthma, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, pain relieve, blood-thinner.

Other actions: Fever reducer, blood cleanser, wound healer, diuretic, increase perspiration


Standard dose (leaves)[5]:
Infusion: 1/2 cup 3-4 times daily
Tincture: 3-4 ml three times daily

In Brazil, Guaco is traditionally prepared as an infusion (tea).

Powder: An infusion may be prepared by placing 1/2 cup of powdered leaves in a gauze bag. This is then placed in 1 litre of hot water and steep for approximately 15 minutes. Strain the infusion to remove sediments. Let it cool and drink as per dose. Unused portions may be refrigerated in a well-sealed container. The suggested dosage is half a cup, 4 times daily. 6]

Dried leaves: An infusion may be prepared by using 2 cups of fresh leaves (or ½ cup dried leaves) and infuse them in 1 litre of water. A half-cup of this infusion is taken 4 times daily for rheumatism, respiratory problems and coughs. [7]

Another recommendation is to infuse 1 tablespoon of guaco leaves in a litre of boiling water, leave for 5 minutes on the fire, then remove from the fire and let stand for 30 minutes. [8]

The leaf infusion may also be used as a topical wound healer and pain-reliever (however the fresh leaves are more effective for this purpose than using dried leaves).

Topical: the leaf infusion or fresh crushed herb may be applied topically to wound and to relieve pain. [7]

Guaco Herbal Recipes

Guaco Tea with Eucalyptus [8]

2 tablespoons guaco leaves
2 tablespoons dried Eucalyptus leaves
1 litre boiling water.

1. Add the guaco and eucalyptus to the boiling water, cover and let stand for 15 minutes, it must be strained before drinking. It is recommended to drink 2 to 3 cups of tea a day, as needed.

Guaco Herbal Syrup

2oz dried leaves
6 cups water
3/4 cup sugar

1. Put the leaves in the water and boil until it is reduced to 2 cups.
2. Then add sugar and boil it again for about 20 minutes into a syrup.
3. Strain and cool the syrup.
4. Bottle and store in the refrigerator. As a cough syrup, 1 tablespoon is taken 3 times daily.


– Guaco contains up to 11% coumarin (coumadin), which has a blood thinning effect. As such it may potentiate Warfarin® and other coumadin drugs.

– In large dosages (two to three times the traditional remedy above) guaco has been reported to cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Other plants known as Guaco

Another herb referred to as guaco is Cleome serrulata.

M. glomerata coumarin level
Mikania glomerata
Scientific evidence of M. laevigata and M. glomerata as a phamacological tool

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Chemical constituent of M. laevigata and M. glomerata
chemical constituent mikania


[2] Plants Used in Mexican Plants Used in Mexican Traditional Medicine Traditional Medicine Their Application and Effects In Traditional Healing Practices by Armando González Stuart, Ph.D.
[3] Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America by James A. Duke
[4] Medicinal Plants of Jamaica Parts 1 & 11. By G. F. Asprey, M.Sc., Ph.D. (B’ham.), Professor of Botany, U.W.I

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