Bija/Bixa - Achiote - Annatto (bixácea)

Taíno: Bija or bixa (Del Náhuatl or Aztec: achíotl)
Other Names: Annatto, Lipstick Tree - Country of Origin: Tropical America


The Taínos called it bija or bixa. The name Achiote is by origin Aztec (achiotl) and the southern indigenous people named it pumacua or chacuanguarica.
Description: A small tree with a round head, generally grown as an ornamental because of its lovely flowers of various colors. The seeds of the flower have a reddish powder which is used as a vegetable tint for soaps, rice, margarine, cheese and many other products. It is believed to come from Brazil but was carried throughout Central and South America by the Indians, who used the coloring as body paint, and by women, who used it as lipstick. The dye contains Vitamin C. Annatto Properties Favored by Aztec's For sunstroke, Jaundice, Tonsillitis, Oral Excoriations, Burns, Leprosy, Asthma, Pleuresia (Inflammation of the membrane that covers the lungs), Sleep Apnia, rectal disorders and headaches.
1. For sunstroke the Aztec indians would make a powder of the seeds in the following way: The Achiote seeds are simmered for several hours and right afterwards they are rubbed together vigorously until they release the dye contained in them, then let sit in a dish until the sediment collects, it is red, which must be put in the sun to dry, the powder is formed, it is now mixed with coconut oil and the paste or ointment that is made is applied to the forehead, neck and sinus areas on head.
2. For tonsillitis and oral excorations: They would take a pinch of the aforementioned powder and mix it with a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of rice water and with the resulting liquid gargle 3 to 4 times a day.
3. For burns and leprosy: A paste is formed with the mentioned powder mixed with olive oil and is applied to the affected area.
4. For Pleuresia and Apnia: A pinch of the above mentioned powder mixed in a cup of lettuce water and taken on an empty stomach.
5. For Rectal Discomforts: A enema is made with the boiled leaves.
6. For neurologic in nature headaches: The leaves are applied on the temple area.
CAUTION: This presentation is not a guide to the identification of plants or their use as a substitute for standard medical treatments. Many plants with medicinal properties are also toxic and frequently FATAL if taken at incorrect dosages or if not prepared in a specific fashion. We do not advocate the consumption of reputed medicinal plant products without prior consultation with your physician or other natural plant products professional. Consult Your Physician Before Using a Herbal Remedy!
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