Contrayerva plant - Dorstenia Contrajerva (Urticaceae)

Medicinal Use of Contrayerva – Dorstenia Contrajerva (Urticaceae)


Stemless perennial herb growing to 1 ft (30 cm). Has palm-shaped leaves and longstalked greenish flowers.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to Central and South America and the Caribbean islands, contrayerva is generally gathered from the wild.

Part Used


History & Folklore

Contrayerva means “antidote” in Spanish, indicating its traditional use in the treatment of poisoning and venomous bites. The herb was employed in Mayan and Aztec medicine for a variety of purposes, including as a poultice to draw pus.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Contrayerva rhizome is considered aromatic, stimulant, and sweat-inducing. Occasionally used in the early stages of serious fevers such as typhoid, it is also given for gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and dysentery. There is no scientific substantiation of its reputation as an antidote.

Related Species

D. convexa, native to Zaire, is used as a wound healer; D. klainei is used in tropical Africa as a gargle.