Achiote: Not Used Only as Colorant

December 17, 2004

ACHIOTE(Bixa orellana), ofthe Bixaceae family,is also knownas annato, bija,onoto and urucú.Distribution: Anative plant foundin the warmerregions of thetropical Americas,achiote has beenused for centuriesby indigenous peopleas a colorant,condiment and medicine. Today, it is cultivatedhere as a popular food colorant forrice and vegetables.Botanical Description: A handsomebush that reaches 5 meters (15 feet) inheight and has ovate, heart-like leavesand pink flowers.The unusual seed capsules are coveredwith soft, red spines and contain numerousseeds with a bright reddish-orangeresin.Medicinal Uses: Although achiote iswell known as a dye and food colorant, itis also used medicinally.The leaves are reported to be useful ina tea for the treatment of dandruff andhair loss. The seeds and roots have beenused as a treatment for fevers and dysentery,and also as an aphrodisiac. Theleaves are also used for headaches.Preparation: The bright reddish-orangeresin on the seeds can be preparedby cooking the seeds in hot water to separatethe resin from the seeds. Strain theseeds and boil the solution until itbecomes a paste. This paste can be usedas a food colorant or dye for material. Itis also high in beta-carotene.The leaves are boiled in water to makea tea for use as a hair rinse to combatdandruff and hair loss. The roots can bedug up, washed and chopped into smallpieces, which are boiled in water to makea tea for fevers and diarrhea. It is alsosaid to have a tonic effect on the kidneysand sex glands.Notes: The seeds are easily germinatedin pots or plastic nursery bags filledwith average, moist soil. These hardyseedlings can be transplanted in severalmonths to permanent sites around thehome to serve as curious ornamentals,which can serve as a fence border and auseful source of dye, food colorant andmedicine.For more information on tropicalmedicinal plants and home gardens, visitwww.thenewdawncenter.org or e-mailthenewdawncenter@yahoo.com. Wehave books, seeds and classes for you.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

News
396 views

The Tico Times Weekly Digest: March 18, 2019

Alexander Villegas - March 18, 2019

OIJ joins the investigation into two police officers, the 737 Max is banned from Costa Rican airspace and some awesome…

Volunteer firefighters mobilize to protect Nosara from wildfires
Changemakers
1193 views
Changemakers
1193 views

Volunteer firefighters mobilize to protect Nosara from wildfires

Alejandro Zúñiga - March 18, 2019

Fueled by strong winds and unusually dry conditions, wildfires near Nosara, Guanacaste have forced a community of volunteer firefighters to…

Costa Ricans star as FC Cincinnati wins first MLS match
Costa Rica
998 views
Costa Rica
998 views

Costa Ricans star as FC Cincinnati wins first MLS match

Alejandro Zúñiga - March 17, 2019

The match may have been played in Ohio, but all eyes were on Costa Rica’s stars as FC Cincinnati defeated…