Pata de Vaca (translated as Cow’s Foot) is a small tree with large leaves resembling that of a cow hoof (hence the name!). It produces large, drooping white flowers along with a brown seed pod. Found in the rainforests and tropical sections of Peru and Brazil, it is prevalent in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest.
While the indigenous uses are not well document, Pata de vaca has long been, and continues to be, a popular natural medicine in South America. Often called “vegetable insulin,” it has been used for many years to balance blood sugar levels. It has also gained notoriety as a blood purifier and diuretic. Pata de vaca leaves and tea bags are common items on pharmacy shelves in South America. Traditionally, a leaf tea infusion is drunk after each meal to help balance sugar levels.
The leaves contain a well-known antibacterial chemical called astragalin as well as alkaloids, glycosides and flavonoids, including one called kaempferitrin.