Litsea cubeba

Litsea cubeba

El litsea aromático o may chang (Litsea cubeba (Lour.) Pers.) Es una especie arbórea o arbustiva perteneciente a la familia Lauraceae.

Sistemática –
Desde un punto de vista sistemático pertenece a:
Dominio eucariota,
Reino Plantae,
División Magnoliophyta,
Clase Magnoliopsida,
Subclase Magnoliidae,
Orden Laurales,
Familia lauráceas,
Género Litsea,
Especies de L. cubeba.
Los siguientes términos son sinónimos:
– Actinodaphne citrata (Blume) Hayata;
– Aperula citriodora (Siebold & Zucc.) Blume;
– Aperula formosana Nakai;
– Benjuí citriodorum Siebold & Zucc.;
– Benjuí cubeba (Lour) Hatus.;
– Daphnidium cubeba (Lour.) Nees;
– Laurus cubeba Lour.;
– Laurus piperita Meisn.;
– Lindera citrata (Blume) Koidz.;
– Lindera citriodora (Siebold y Zucc.) Hemsl.;
– Lindera dielsii H.Lév.;
– Litsea citrata Blume;
– Litsea citriodora (Siebold & Zucc.) Hatus.;
– Litsea dielsii (H.Lév.) H.Lév.;
– Litsea mollifolia Chun;
– Litsea mollis glabrata Diels;
– Litsea piperita Mirb.;
– Malapoenna citrata (Blume) Kuntze;
– Malapoenna cubeba (Lour.) Kuntze;
– Omphalodaphne citriodora (Siebold & Zucc.) Nakai;
– Persea cubeba (Lour.) Spreng.;
– Tetranthera citrata (Blume) Nees;
– Tetranthera cubeba (Lour.) Meisn.;
– Muro de tetranthera polyantha. ex Nees.

Etimología –
El término Litsea deriva de los dos términos chinos ‘li’, que significa ciruela, y ‘tse’, que significa pequeño.
El epíteto específico de cubeba proviene del inglés medieval Quibibe y del latín medieval cubeba, un término derivado del dialecto árabe Kubāba.

Distribución geográfica y hábitat –
Litsea cubeba es una planta originaria de China, Indonesia, Taiwán y otras partes del sudeste asiático que crece en un área entre el este de Asia, China, Japón, el subcontinente indio, Myanmar, Tailandia, Laos, Vietnam, Malasia e Indonesia.
Su hábitat son las laderas soleadas, matorrales, bosques dispersos, bordes de caminos, bancos de agua a una altitud entre 300 y 3200 metros.

Descripción –
Litsea cubeba es un árbol o arbusto de hoja caduca a perenne, de 5-12 metros de altura.
El tronco es recto.
Las hojas son oblongas lanceoladas, colocadas alternativamente en las ramas.
Las flores son pequeñas, de color blanquecino, agrupadas en pequeños racimos y la planta es dioica, por lo que tanto las formas masculinas como femeninas deben ser cultivadas para producir frutos aunque existan formas con flores fértiles hermafroditas.
Los frutos son pequeñas drupas que son de color verde al principio y de color marrón parduzco cuando están maduras.

Cultivo –
Litsea es un arbusto o árbol pequeño de hoja caduca a perenne que se usa a menudo en la medicina tradicional y también es una fuente de aromas alimentarios, aceite esencial y madera.
Esta planta se cosecha en la naturaleza o se cultiva comercialmente, particularmente en China, Japón, Indochina y Java, por su aceite esencial.
Es un árbol de rápido crecimiento y las plantas producidas a partir de esquejes pueden comenzar a dar frutos cuando solo tienen 2-3 años.
Todas las partes de la planta tienen un agradable aroma similar al limón y es una especie dioica, por lo que para obtener los frutos es necesario cultivar tanto el macho como la hembra, incluso si existen ejemplares con fértiles flores hermafroditas.
La propagación puede tener lugar tanto por semilla como por esqueje.

Customs and Traditions –
May chang is a plant that produces a fruit that is processed for its lemon essential oil.
It is called «mountain pepper» (山 胡椒; pinyin: shānhújiāo) in Mandarin and maqaw (馬 告) by the Atayal aborigines of Taiwan. The oil can also be extracted from the leaves, but this is considered to be of lower quality. Wood is sometimes used to make furniture and handicrafts. Parts of plants are also used medicinally.
The essential oil yield of the fruit is 3-5%. The main component of the oil is citral, at 70-85% of the oil. It is mainly produced in China from plantations and is marketed as «Litsea cubeba», with an estimated production of between 500 and 1,500 tons of oil per year. The oil is used as a perfume (especially in soap bars) and to flavor various products. It is also used as a raw material by the chemical industry for the synthesis of vitamin A and violet-like fragrances.
This essential oil is traded internationally.
The fragrant flowers are eaten or used as a flavoring for tea and the fruits are eaten as a side dish for vegetables and are a common substitute for Piper cubeba.
The fruit, bark and leaves are often used by the Karen people of northern Thailand as a curry ingredient in a dish called «Kaeng Nuea».
The roots are cooked as a seasoning in food.
This plant is an important source of substances for medicinal use.
The roots, twigs, leaves, and fruits are all used in traditional medicine to treat internal health problems, such as swelling and pain.
Research has shown the presence of different alkaloids in various parts of the plant.
Among those recently isolated and identified are: laurothetanine, O-methyloblongin, oblongin, xantoplanin and magnocararineu. Bioanalysis studies indicated thermal, anti-asthmatic and anti-anaphylactic activities.
Furthermore, recent studies have found that the essential oil may be useful in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia.
The essential oil has demonstrated antifungal properties against various pathogens including Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Fusarium spp, Helminthosporium spp.
All parts of the Litsea cubeba plant are applied medicinally and have antiparalytic, anticephalic, antihysterical, carminative, spasmolytic and diuretic properties.
The flowers, leaves and fruit walls are all sources of essential oils which are processed for citral and are also used for their fragrance and medicinal properties.
Citral is used for the production of ionones and formerly vitamin A and in essences for cosmetics, food and tobacco products.
Due to its pleasant citrus smell and flavor it helps to give a lemon and lime taste and is a general refreshing in fruit flavors.
The main essential oil, known as «May-chang oil» is obtained from the fruit and is used in perfumery and is also the main source of citral.
In perfumery, the oil is used as an alternative to verbena oil and lemongrass oil to make colognes, home sprays, soaps and deodorants.
The seed contains a fatty oil, from which lauric acid and capric acid are produced.
The fruit is used in decoction for the treatment of dizziness, paralysis and in post-partum preparations.
Traditionally, the Dayak Kenyah people of East Kalimantan use the fruits and bark as oral and topical medicine for both children and adults. It is applied in case of fever, stomach pain, chest pain and as a tonic. It is also an antidote to treat drunkenness.
The leaves are used to treat skin diseases.
In aromatherapy, the oil is applied as a cooling agent against acne and dermatitis and to relieve anxiety and stress.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that may chang can be used as a pioneer species when restoring natural woods and when you want to create a wooded garden.
It is also bred as a shade tree for other plantations and is planted as a windbreak on tea plantations.
This species proves to be an excellent fast-growing pioneer, usually gregarious in open areas, found along the edges of tropical rainforests and on the edges of both lower and upper montane forests.
It can be used early on in reforestation projects.
The tree is planted as a pioneer species in northern Thailand in reforestation projects to restore natural woodlands and is planted in degraded woodlands and open areas in intercropping with various other species which all have the ability to grow rapidly; it produces dense foliage that suppresses weeds and attracts wildlife that scatters seeds, especially birds and bats. La madera de esta planta se utiliza para la fabricación y construcción de muebles en general.

Método de preparación –
Litsea cubeba es una planta que se cultiva tanto con fines alimentarios como medicinales y para la industria cosmética.
La pulpa de la fruta tiene un sabor a aguacate y se come cruda o al vapor con arroz y es un sustituto común de Piper cubeba.
El aceite esencial se comercializa internacionalmente para usos cosméticos y medicinales.
Las flores, que son fragantes, se comen o se utilizan como aromatizante para el té. Los karen del norte de Tailandia utilizan a menudo la fruta, la corteza y las hojas como ingrediente de curry en un plato llamado «Kaeng Nuea».
Las raíces también se consumen, cocinadas como condimento en los alimentos.

Guido Bissanti

Fuentes
– Acta Plantarum – Flora de las regiones italianas.
– Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre.
– Base de datos útil de plantas tropicales.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. Una lista de verificación anotada de la flora vascular italiana, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora de Italia, Edagricole, Bolonia.
– Treben M., 2000. Salud de la Farmacia del Señor, Consejos y experiencias con hierbas medicinales, Ennsthaler Editore.

Advertencia: Las aplicaciones farmacéuticas y los usos alimúrgicos están indicados únicamente con fines informativos, no representan de ninguna manera una prescripción médica; por lo tanto, no se asume ninguna responsabilidad por su uso con fines curativos, estéticos o alimentarios.





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