Barbasco: learn about its health benefits and contradictions


Have you heard of barbasco?

How much do you know about this plant?

Do you know its uses and benefits that it can bring to your health?

Although it is not as well known as many other plants that are also considered medicinal, barbasco has properties that favor its use within the pharmaceutical industry.

In fact, its action has been scientifically proven to treat various diseases, especially lung diseases. But, in general, it is a very complete plant if we evaluate it from the field of health.

Now, would you like to know where the barbasco comes from? Know a little of its history?

It was the peasant populations of Mexico that began to collect this plant hundreds of years ago.

At first, all of its medicinal properties were not known, until its potential for the production of hormones, contraceptives and other pharmaceutical products, which are in high demand by the world population, was discovered.

Today, barbasco continues to be the subject of study in Mexican universities thanks to the fact that some investigations have revealed its performance with other compounds to even combat cancer cells and other diseases.

Without a doubt, barbasco is a plant that still has a lot to explore.

In other countries it is known as mullein whose meaning in the aboriginal language is “soft”, since the plant contains flowers and leaves that are extremely soft in consistency.

Benefits of the barbasco plant
Much is said about this plant. There is talk of its health benefits and there are also many contradictions, since the seeds of mullein have a biocidal effect.

The barbasco was generally used as a lure for fishing, while the stem was used as a torch.

Historical sources report that Mexican peasant communities were used to take advantage of the cultivation of the plant for medicinal purposes.

With the barbasco, the transnational companies generated a business that has not stopped and that places this tuber in an important place in the world pharmaceutical industry.

Positive and negative aspects are woven around the plant, cultivated since ancient times in Mexico and which is currently considered one of the great discoveries of the pharmaceutical industry.

Do you want to know more? Throughout this article we will share details about the plant, its uses, properties, benefits and contraindications.


The incorrect use of barbasco can be dangerous to health. Its consumption should always be supervised by a doctor.

Barbasco: a little-known treasure for health
As for the benefits, the tea from this plant is excellent for treating the flu, cough, asthma and bronchitis and other difficulties in the respiratory tract.

If what you are looking for is to obtain some sedative effect, barbasco tea is ideal for relaxation.

Likewise, it is very effective to use it as an expectorant because it prevents phlegm and the spread of viruses.

It works as an ointment for bites, as well as being very useful for treating burns and for treating hemorrhoids.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties it is used for menopause. Contains hormones such as diosgenin and progesterone for contraceptives.

In case of chills due to fevers, this expectorant plant is recommended to increase sweating.

The leaves of the plant are very good for treating skin diseases, as well as very minor burns. The yellow flowers produced by the plant are ideal for treating ear infections. It is also known for its diuretic effect.

Beyond its medicinal benefits, the plant is used to flavor some alcoholic beverages. In each of these cases it is advisable to know the doses that can be used to avoid side effects.

The flowers and leaves of the plant are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are suitable for human consumption, but the seeds contain an insecticide that poses risks to humans, therefore, the use of leaves containing mullein seeds should be avoided.

Barbasco is contraindicated during pregnancy, during lactation and in children under 12 years of age.

What is the barbasco plant?

The barbasco, whose scientific name is Deguelia Utilis, is a climbing plant that contains leaves similar to a heart and that at the root produces a tuber similar to sweet potato. The plant is dull green and, on its leaves, yellow flowers stand out. Its height can exceed 8 meters, although it generally reaches 4 meters.

The species is native to the Amazon and its root produces the pesticide rotenone that can be cultivated after three years. Up to 7,500 kilograms per hectare can be obtained from this pesticide.

Barbasco belongs to the group of climbing plants and to the Dioscoreacea family, which has more than 600 species worldwide and of which there are around 70 in Mexico. In Mexico it usually grows in cities such as Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas. .

The plant needs open spaces to grow and becomes a vine when it gets old. The barbasco is propagated by cuttings that must be planted without much depth. September and October are the ideal months for planting, the distance between each plant must be 1.5 meters due to its large size.

Pests such as ants and worms represent a threat to the normal growth of plants.

It should be clarified that although the barbasco is a 100% medicinal plant, rotenone can be extracted from its roots, a toxic substance that acts as an insecticide and is used to control whiteflies and red spider mites, among other insects. In livestock it allows to control parasites and ticks. While, in humans it has been useful to control mites, lice, scabies and skin diseases.

What is it for?
Thanks to its antiseptic powers, barbasco is recommended to treat allergies and skin diseases.

It contributes to the hormonal regulation of women, since it relieves ailments caused by menopause.
It not only acts favorably in women, but also in men, allowing the production of testosterone.

Avoid intestinal colic and irritable bowel syndrome since mullein helps the digestive system.
Helps control stress.

Avoid hair loss.

Helps control digestive problems.

As an insecticide it is very useful.

The barbasco contains diosgenin, active principle for the elaboration of contraceptives.

Helps fight diseases caused by mites and lice.

It is used for healing if used as a plaster.

The leaves are useful for the preparation of medicines that are used for headaches.

When consumed as an infusion, barbasco reduces colds, kidney stones and urine retention.

Previously it was used as a lure for fishing, but the method was prohibited because it acts against all kinds of fish, causing their death.

In general, this plant can be used as an infusion or cream. However, its use must be authorized by a specialist.

Also called Mexican yam, wild yam, cubé, kumu or pacal, this plant has properties that favor the presence of steroidal sapogenins, making it ideal for progesterone treatments. It also fulfills the function of protecting the skin by acting as a layer that prevents dehydration.

Its high properties are found in the leaves and flowers of the plant that serve to relieve pain as well as inflammation of the muscles and nerves. It contains a substance that increases mucus in the lungs, helping to clean it and improve the respiratory tract.

The plant has agents that prevent constipation, fever, digestive problems and infections. Much is said about its diuretic properties that attack kidney ailments.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is used as a treatment in cases of arthritis and rheumatism. It also serves to be applied as tonics and lotions for body cleansing.

Its properties are fundamental within the pharmaceutical industry, since mullein is the active principle for the manufacture of contraceptives.

It must be clarified that this plant is used above all in cream for which it is necessary to process the root. This ointment can be applied to the belly in case of colic or on the belly of the woman or man to stimulate the production of hormones.

Due to its great properties, barbasco is on the list of the most important plants in Mexico, currently recognized for its contribution to world medicine.

Barbasco benefits
Considered one of the most complete medicinal plants, barbasco acts positively in women and men by attacking hormonal problems and other ailments.

In the case of women, barbasco fulfills an important anti-inflammatory function before and after menopause.

The plant has many benefits, including its high diosgenin content, which is used to make contraceptives.

For its part, in men, barbasco helps the production of testosterone, the fundamental sexual hormone in men on which the sexual impulse, the generation of spermatozoa and good bone health depend.

Both the brain and the pituitary gland are in charge of controlling the testosterone that is in the testicles and the barbasco stimulates it.

As an analgesic it is ideal for treating body aches and inflammation, achieving effects very similar to cortisone. As an antiseptic, barbasco works by eliminating rashes and attacking bacteria.

The plant helps protect the digestive system by attacking problems related to the colon and other intestinal conditions.

It should not be forgotten that barbasco is also a good insecticide. The plant contains rotenone and deguelin, so it is recommended to use it with great caution.

Barbasco contraindications
Its extensive properties make barbasco a 100% medicinal plant.

However, the fact that the same plant contains a significant proportion of rotenone in its roots generates strong contradictions.

Hence, some consider this plant as poisonous.

Beyond its medicinal importance, especially for the preparation of contraceptives, barbasco is a source of rotenone, a pesticide that is in great demand worldwide since it helps eliminate pests that put crops at risk.

In insects, this pesticide works by decreasing the generation of oxygen and causing respiratory difficulties until causing their death.

How is it that a plant with high medicinal properties is also poisonous?
It happens with plants like barbasco that, although they contain properties that are very useful to the pharmaceutical industry, have a high level of toxicity, so much so that historically it was used by aboriginal communities to fish, decimating fish populations.

The scientific explanation is that the roots of the barbasco are toxic when administered to warm-blooded animals through the respiratory and digestive tracts, as was the case with fish. That is the reason why it is also considered a poisonous plant. In fact, it is best to use only the leaves and flowers of the plant because the toxicity is found specifically in the roots. Now, who regulates the use of the plant? Can the common citizen self-medicate?

Even when it is a cultivable plant in Mexico and other countries, it should not be administered on its own.

It must be prescribed by a doctor
Professional management is essential when using barbasco for medicinal purposes. Ideally, it should be done through medical prescription to avoid consequences in humans.

The foregoing does not leave aside the great contributions of the barbasco that for years were studied by experts and that allowed to determine the high content of diosgenin in this plant, considered in the 50s as one of the most significant events of the world pharmaceutical industry.

This added to the properties of the plant to treat various diseases of various kinds.

In such a way that the barbasco is a plant of great importance today and whose search does not stop.

In countries like Mexico, research is being carried out to continue studying the properties of the plant and its uses not only in the pharmaceutical industry but also in the agrochemical industry.

Knowing the properties, uses, benefits and contraindications of barbasco is essential before using it.

Many incur in the supply of this and other plants without knowing its implications, which can be harmful to health.