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Updated: Jun 29

Boldo is the most recommended herb for 'cleansing the liver'. However, it is sometimes difficult to correctly identify the herb, as there are several plants that are called boldo. Which one is the real thing? The Chilean boldo, the small boldo or the Brazilian boldo?

The name boldo comes from a small tree called Peumus boldus or Chilean boldo. In Chile this herb is used both in cooking and in folk medicine to treat liver problems.

In Madeira, perhaps because of its association with the therapeutic properties of boldo-do-Chile, Brazilian boldo (Coleus barbatus Syn Coleus forskoklii, Plectranthus barbatus) or boldo miúdo (Coleus neochilus) are used instead. Although these three species have different chemical compositions, their therapeutic properties are similar.

They are used to reduce symptoms of indigestion (caused by high-fat foods) such as heartburn and feeling unwell after a meal. Tea from any of these herbs stimulates the release of bile, which facilitates the digestion of high-fat foods, while reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Because they lower the production of histamines, they are also indicated for treating respiratory problems and allergies.

The stimulating action of these herbs helps to detoxify the liver after drinking alcohol. It is therefore a very practical herb for reducing hangover symptoms after a night of partying.

With similar medicinal properties there is another plant, the 'Chinese boldo' (Plectranthus ornathus or Coleus comosus) also known as the 'cat scaring plant' (Coleus caninus or Plectranthus caninos).

Other boldos are purely decorative, such as Plectranthus barbatus var. grandis 'White Rhine'.

‘White Rhine’

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