Schinus molle is a species of tree found in warm climates and heavily relied upon for its medical properties. Essential oil from the plant commonly is used in traditional homeopathic medicine practices, and recent scientific studies have backed up its benefit claims for a wide variety of ailments. For example, it is believed to work as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. It is also thought to lower a person's blood pressure and fight cancer. Some indigenous people in South and Central America use it for additional medical purposes, such as for toothaches, gout, rheumatism, and as a method to prevent depression.
Commonly referred to as the pepper tree, mastic tree, and Jesuit's balsam, Schinus molle is an evergreen tree with red seeds. The seeds, leaves, and bark contain an essential oil that emits a peppery scent. The tree species is found in areas of South America, such as Peru and Brazil, and the southern portion of North America, including Mexico and southern California. The leaves are often brewed into tea, while the seeds usually are crushed and made into drinks, including wine. The bark is typically made into a tincture that can be topically applied to the skin.
Unlike many homeopathic remedies that are not supported by scientific research, many of the medical uses of Schinus molle are backed by research studies. For example, research has shown that it works as an antibacterial and can fight nearly a dozen different types of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli, commonly referred to as E. coli. Research has also shown that it will kill several different types of fungi, including Aspergillus ochraceus, a known lung irritant in humans.
Some research has shown that Schinus molle works as an antiviral as well, fighting influenza and colds. It is also used to treat yeast infections that are caused by Candida. Some people can also use it to reduce high blood pressure, as long as they are not on prescription medications. In addition, research has shown that it works as a pain reliever and can help fight cancer cells, especially in the liver.
Many people who follow homeopathic medicine practices believe that Schinus molle will fight depression, work as a diuretic, and treat toothaches as well. It is also though to aid in digestion and promote regular menstrual cycles. Some people also claim that it treats constipation, working as a natural laxative. Additionally, many people believe that the peppery scent works as a bug repellent, keeping away diseases caused by bug bites.
As with any herbal remedy, it is important to consult a medical doctor before using Schinus molle. Some people believe that it will increase uterine stimulation, so it should not be used by women who are pregnant. In addition, people with cardiovascular issues, specifically high blood pressure and irregular rhythms of the heart, should seek a doctor's advice before using the product.