Botanical name: Hymenaea courbaril
Other names: Brazilian copal, Cayenne copal, stinking toe
Jatobá is a huge canopy tree, growing to 30 m in height, and is indigenous to the Amazon rainforest and parts of tropical Central America. In the Amazon, jatobá’s aromatic copal resin is dug up from the base of the tree and burned as incense, used in the manufacture of varnishes, used as a glaze for pottery, and is employed medicinally. Indians in the Amazon have long used the resin in magic rituals, love potions and in wedding ceremonies.
In Ka’apor ethnobotany, jatobá bark is taken orally to stop excessive menstrual discharge, applied to wounded or sore eyes, and used to expel intestinal worms and parasites. The bark is used in the Peruvian Amazon for cystitis, hepatitis, prostatitis, and coughs. In the Brazilian Amazon, the resin is used for coughs and bronchitis, and a bark tea is used for stomach problems as well as foot and nail fungus. In the United States, jatobá is used as a natural energy tonic, for such respiratory ailments as asthma, laryngitis, and bronchitis. As it is stimulating best to take before 6pm to prevent insomnia
This plant is nicknamed “Stinking Toe” because its seed pods look like big, fat toes and are said to smell like smelly feet or toes. The fruit is however very delicious. The pulp of Stinking Toe is sweet tasting and eaten fresh or made into a beverage. It Has also many uses in folk medicine from alleviating headaches to treating gout. White, fragrant flowers are pollinated by bats. This plant produces usable copal resins, mostly underground and at the base of the tree. Orange sticky gum converts to amber, but this process takes millions of years. This forms a hard polymer that is resistant to natural decay processes.
Preparation: One-half to one cup bark decoction 1-3 times daily or 1-3 ml of a 4:1 tincture is taken twice daily. A strong bark decoction or standard tincture diluted with water and a small amount of cider vinegar is used topically for skin or nail fungi or employed as a douche for yeast infections.