Pata de vaca (Bauhinia forficata)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • (+)-1-Hydroxypinoresinol 1-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 2,4,6-trimethoxyphenol 1-O-beta-D-(6'-O-galloyl)-glucopyranoside, 2',4'-dihydroxy-4-methoxydihydrochalcone-4'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 2',4'-dihydroxychalcone, 2''-O-rhamnosylvitexin, 3,4-di-hydroxybenzoic acid, 3beta-trans-(3,4-dihydroxycinnamoyloxy)olean-12-en-28-oic acid, 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzoic acid, 4-hydroxy-2',4'-dimethoxychalcone, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, 5,6-dihydroxy-7-methoxyflavone 6-O-beta-D-xylopyranoside, 6,8-di-C-methylkaempferol 3-methyl ether, 6-methyl homoeriodictyol, 10-O-demethylracemosol, adda, afzelin, alkaloids, anacacho orchid tree, astilbin, astragalin, Bauhinia aculeata L., Bauhinia aculeata L. subsp. aculeate, Bauhinia aculeata L. subsp. grandiflora (Juss.) Wunderlin, Bauhinia acuminata L., Bauhinia aurea, Bauhinia aureifolia K.Larsen & S.S.Larsen, Bauhinia bassacensis Pierre ex Gagnep., Bauhinia bauhinioides Mart., Bauhinia bidentata Jack, Bauhinia binata Blanco, Bauhinia blakeana Dunn, Bauhinia × blakeana S.T.Dunn, Bauhinia bracteata (Graham ex Benth.) Baker, Bauhinia candicans, Bauhinia candida Ait. -> Bauhinia variegata L., Bauhinia carronii, Bauhinia championi (Benth.) Benth., Bauhinia championii, Bauhinia cheilanta (Bong.) Steud., Bauhinia corymbosa Roxb. ex DC., Bauhinia creaghi Baker (Charles Vandeleur Creagh), Bauhinia cumanensis, Bauhinia curtisii Prain, Bauhinia cumingiana Fern.-Vill., Bauhinia esculenta Burch., Bauhinia excise, Bauhinia fassoglensis, Bauhinia ferruginea Roxb., Bauhinia flagelliflora Wunderlin, Bauhinia forficata Link, Bauhinia galpinii, Bauhinia galpinii N.E.Br., Bauhinia glauca (Wall. ex Benth.), Bauhinia glauca subsp. pernervosa, Bauhinia grandiflora Blanco, Bauhinia grandiflora Juss. -> Bauhinia aculeata L. subsp. grandiflora (Juss.) Wunderlin, Bauhinia grandifolia D.Dietr., Bauhinia grevei, Bauhinia harmsiana Hosseus, Bauhinia hirsuta Weinm., Bauhinia hupehara Craib, Bauhinia integrifolia Roxb., Bauhinia involucellata Kurz, Bauhinia kappleri Sagot -> Bauhinia monandra Kurz, Bauhinia krugii Urban -> Bauhinia monandra Kurz, Bauhinia lakhonensis Gagnep., Bauhinia loeseneriana, Bauhinia lunarioides A.Gray ex S.Watson, Bauhinia malabarica, Bauhinia malabarica Roxb., Bauhinia megalandra, Bauhinia mombassae Vatke, Bauhinia microstachya (Raddi) Macbr., Bauhinia monandra, Bauhinia monandra Kurz, Bauhinia nervosa (Wall. ex Benth.) Baker, Bauhinia ornata Kurz, Bauhinia penicilliloba Pierre ex Gagnep., Bauhinia pervilleana, Bauhinia petersiana Bolle, Bauhinia picta (Kunth) DC., Bauhinia pottsii G.Don, Bauhinia pulla Craib, Bauhinia punctata sensu Bolle, Bauhinia purpurea DC. ex Walp., Bauhinia purpurea auct. -> Bauhinia variegata L., Bauhinia purpurea L., Bauhinia racemosa, Bauhinia racemosa Lam., Bauhinia rufescens Lam., Bauhinia saccocalyx Pierre, Bauhinia scandens L., Bauhinia seminarioi Harms ex Eggers, Bauhinia siamensis K.Larsen & S.S.Larsen, Bauhinia similis Craib, Bauhinia sirindhorniae K.Larsen & S.S.Larsen, Bauhinia strychnifolia Craib, Bauhinia strychnoidea Prain, Bauhinia tarapotensis, Bauhinia tomentosa L., Bauhinia triandra Roxb. -> Bauhinia purpurea L., Bauhinia vahilii, Bauhinia vahlii Wight & Arn., Bauhinia variegata candida, Bauhinia variegata L., Bauhinia variegata L. var. candida Voidt, Bauhinia variegata L. var. variegata, Bauhinia variegata Linn., Bauhinia variegata Linn. root bark, Bauhinia viridescens Desv., Bauhinia wallichii J.F.Macbr., Bauhinia winitii Craib, Bauhinia yunnanensis Franch, bauhiniaside A, bauhiniasin, bauhiniastatins, bauhinione, beta-sitosterol, bibenzyl, Brazilian orchid-tree, butein, butein-4-methyl ether, Caesalpiniaceae (subfamily), Caesalpinoideae (subfamily), caffeoyl ester, camel's foot tree, casco de vaca, (+)-catechin, chalcones, cinnamic acid derivatives, cow's foot, cow's hoof, cow's paw, cyclohexanone, demethylracemosol, daucosterol, dihydrobenzofuran, dihydrodibenzoxepins, (-)-epicatechin, (-)-epicatechin 3-O-gallate, ethyl gallate, Fabaceae (family), farrerol, fatty acids, flavonoids, flavonones, gallic acid, glycosides, hesperidin, homoeriodictyol, hyperoside, indole-3-carboxylic acid, isoacteoside, isoastilbin, isoengeletin, (-)-isolariciresinol 3-alpha-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, isoliquiritigenin, isoliquiritigenin-2'-methyl ether, isoliquiritigenin-4-methyl ether, isoquercitrin, isorhamnetin 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, kachanar, kaempferitrin, kaempferol, kaempferol-3,7-dirhamnoside, kaempferol 3-O-alpha-rhamnoside, kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, kaempferol 3-O-rhamnosyl, kaempferol 7,4'-dimethyl ether 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, lectin, Leguminosae (family), lithospermoside, lupenone, lupeol, luteolin 4'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, (+/-)-lyoniresinol, methyl gallate, minerals, mororó, myricetin-3-O-galactopyranoside, myricitrin, nauhinol A, nauhinol B, nauhinol C, nauhinol D, neoastilbin, neoisoastilbin, oil, ombuin, pacharin, pata de boi, paw-of-cow, preracemosol A, preracemosol B, protein, roseoside, quercetin, quercetin 3-O-alpha-arabinoside, quercetin 3-O-alpha-rhamnoside, quercetin-3-O-galactopyranoside, quercitrin, racemosol, saponins, spirochromane-2,1'-hexenedione, stigmast4-en-3-one, thang-kau-tin, trace elements, triterpene caffeate, triterpene saponins, triterpenes, triterpenic acids, unha de boi, unha de vaca, unha-de-anta, vegetable insulin.

  • Select combination products: Thang-kau-tin (Mallotus repandus (Willd.) Muell.-Arg., Bauhinia championii Benth., Uncaria hirsuta Haviland, and Uncaria rhynchophylla Miquel).

Background

  • Pata de vaca is derived from the leaf of Bauhinia forficata, a flowering tree native to Brazil and Peru. It has traditionally been used to treat high blood sugar levels in diabetics.

  • At this time, there is a lack of high-quality evidence to support Bauhinia for any medicinal use. Further research is needed.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Grade*

Diabetes

Bauhinia forficata has been used to lower blood sugar levels. However, some studies found that it may not affect fasting blood sugar or insulin levels. Further research is needed.

C

*Key to grades:

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;

B: Good scientific evidence for this use;

C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;

D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);

F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • AIDS/HIV, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antivenom, antiviral, astringent (skin tightening), cancer, cough, diuretic (promotes urination), fever, flu, frequent urination, herpes simplex, high cholesterol, hypercoagulability (increased blood clotting), immune function, insect repellant, kidney disease, liver protection, lung disease, malaria, pain, parasites, skin disorders, strains/sprains, stomach problems, thyroid conditions, tonic, ulcers, wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For diabetes, a tea containing three grams of Bauhinia forficata leaves has been taken by mouth daily for 56 days.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for pata de vaca in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to Bauhinia species, its parts, and members of the Fabaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is limited information available on the safety and adverse effects of pata de vaca.

  • Pata de vaca may cause inflammation and reactions with antibodies or red blood cells.

  • Pata de vaca may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Pata de vaca may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in people with immune disorders or in those taking agents that affect the immune system.

  • Use cautiously in people with thyroid disorders or in those taking agents that affect the thyroid.

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to Bauhinia species, its parts, and members of the Fabaceae family.

  • Avoid in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety information.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid using in pregnant or breastfeeding women. There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of pata de vaca during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Pata de vaca may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Pata de vaca may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Pata de vaca may also interact with agents that may affect the immune system, agents used for the lungs, agents used for the kidney, agents used for the liver, agents that may treat blood disorders, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, antigout agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antimalarials, antiparasitics, antitoxins, antiulcer agents, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering agents, pain relievers, thyroid hormones, and wound-healing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Pata de vaca may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Pata de vaca may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Pata de vaca may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, antigout herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antimalarials, antioxidants, antiparasitics, antitoxins, antiulcer herbs and supplements, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that may treat blood disorders, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements used for the lungs, herbs and supplements used for the kidney, herbs and supplements used for the liver, herbs and supplements used for the thyroid, Mallotus repandus, pain relievers, thang-kau-tin, Uncaria hirsute, Uncaria rhynchophylla, and wound healing herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Agrawal, R. C. and Pandey, S. Evaluation of anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic potential of Bauhinia variegata extract in Swiss albino mice. Asian Pac.J.Cancer Prev. 2009;10(5):913-916. View Abstract
  2. de, Oliveira C., Santana, L. A., Carmona, A. K., et al. Structure of cruzipain/cruzain inhibitors isolated from Bauhinia bauhinioides seeds. Biol.Chem. 2001;382(5):847-852. View Abstract
  3. Dugasani, S., Balijepalli, M. K., Tandra, S., et al. Antimicrobial activity of Bauhinia tomentosa and Bauhinia vahlii roots. Pharmacogn.Mag. 2010;6(23):204-207. View Abstract
  4. Gupta, M., Mazumder, U. K., Kumar, R. S., et al. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects of methanol extract from Bauhinia racemosa stem bark in animal models. J.Ethnopharmacol. 4-26-2005;98(3):267-273. View Abstract
  5. Jain, R., Saxena, U., Rathore, K., et al. Bioactivities of polyphenolics from the roots of Bauhinia racemosa. Arch.Pharm.Res. 2008;31(12):1525-1529. View Abstract
  6. Kannan, N., Renitta, R. E., and Guruvayoorappan, C. Bauhinia tomentosa stimulates the immune system and scavenges free radical generation in vitro. J.Basic Clin.Physiol Pharmacol. 2010;21(2):157-168. View Abstract
  7. Kumar, R. S., Sivakumar, T., Sunderam, R. S., et al. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Bauhinia racemosa L. stem bark. Braz.J.Med.Biol.Res. 2005;38(7):1015-1024. View Abstract
  8. Lin, P. and Ng, T. B. Preparation and biological properties of a melibiose binding lectin from Bauhinia variegata seeds. J.Agric.Food Chem. 11-26-2008;56(22):10481-10486. View Abstract
  9. Marchetti, M., Mastromarino, P., Rieti, S., et al. Inhibition of herpes simplex, rabies and rubella viruses by lectins with different specificities. Res.Virol. 1995;146(3):211-215. View Abstract
  10. Oliveira, C. Z., Maiorano, V. A., Marcussi, S., et al. Anticoagulant and antifibrinogenolytic properties of the aqueous extract from Bauhinia forficata against snake venoms. J.Ethnopharmacol. 4-8-2005;98(1-2):213-216. View Abstract
  11. Rajkapoor, B., Murugesh, N., and Rama, Krishna D. Cytotoxic activity of a flavanone from the stem of Bauhinia variegata Linn. Nat.Prod.Res. 2009;23(15):1384-1389. View Abstract
  12. Reid, K. A., Maes, J., Maes, A., et al. Evaluation of the mutagenic and antimutagenic effects of South African plants. J.Ethnopharmacol. 6-15-2006;106(1):44-50. View Abstract
  13. Samie, A., Obi, C. L., Lall, N., et al. In-vitro cytotoxicity and antimicrobial activities, against clinical isolates of Campylobacter species and Entamoeba histolytica, of local medicinal plants from the Venda region, in South Africa. Ann.Trop.Med.Parasitol. 2009;103(2):159-170. View Abstract
  14. Shang, X. Y., Liu, W., and Zhao, C. W. [Advances in research of chemical constituents and pharmacological activites of Bauhinia]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 2008;33(6):709-717. View Abstract
  15. Vasconcelos, F., Sampaio, S. V., Garofalo, M. A., et al. Insulin-like effects of Bauhinia forficata aqueous extract upon Tityus serrulatus scorpion envenoming. J.Ethnopharmacol. 2004;95(2-3):385-392. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.