This shrub of 10 to 16 feet tall is often called tree spinach. It has broad leaves comprised of three or more lobes with fleshly pentioles. Its white-colored flowers may contain three-forked arrangements. Chaya is richer in iron than spinach, and is an important source of potassium, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. Do not eat the leaves raw, as they contain hydrocyanic glucosides. Cooking deactivates the toxicity. Do not prepare in aluminum, as it can cause a toxic reaction. It is known as chatate in Honduras and chicasquil in Costa Rica.
WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND:
Mexico, Central America, Southern Texas, Florida
PROPERTIES AND USE:
Digestive, laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, stimulant. Used to treat poor circulation, poor vision, high cholesterol, cough, arthritis, diabetes, hemmorhoids, kidney stones, skin conditions, anemia. Helps reduce weight.
For all conditions, boil 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chaya leaves in 1 liter water for 30 minutes. Strain, and sip throughout the day.
For skin conditions, use the cooled decoction as a wash on the affected area. For weight loss or general conditions, pour 1 liter water in a glass container with lid. Add four medium-sized leaves. Place in the sun for two hours, and then serve over ice before meals. You may wish to add fresh mint for flavor and lemon to detoxify your system.