The palo azul herb – a deciduous shrub known for its sweet-smelling white flower blossoms – lends its bark and leaves as an herbal tea and a medicinal remedy. This traditional Mexican tea, now a modern alternative medicine, can be found at specialty food stores and online retailers. Consult your doctor before using palo azul as a curative.
Palo azul tea is made from the Eysenhardtia polystachya herb, more commonly known as kidney wood or palo azul, which is Spanish for "blue stick." This plant contains the flavonoids coatline A and coatline B. Other phytochemical contents of the palo azul herb include a cholesterol-like plant sterol known as beta sitosterol, a bicylic ketone that smells like vanilla.
Most commonly, palo azul is used as a hot herbal tea for sipping with food or by itself. The online Mexican grocery store MexGrocer recommends boiling 3 tsp. of the palo azul herb in 1 qt. of water and allowing the water to simmer for five minutes. This produces a light, fragrant, hot tea that can be taken with lemon, honey or sugar. Dissolve a sugar cube or two in a pitcher of palo azul tea and chill it for a refreshing cold beverage.
Though palo azul tea can be enjoyed for its taste, it is also used as a medicinal remedy. The Eysenhardtia polystachya herb acts as a mild hypoglycemic – meaning it can help treat low blood sugar – when prepared through hot infusion, as when served in a cup of palo azul tea. Additionally, the Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics reports that palo azul tea helps ease kidney disorders – such as infections, kidney stones and swollen kidneys – and tumors and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Tea retailers position the tea as a urinary antiseptic to help detoxify the bladder and urinary tracts. MexGrocer recommends drinking four cups a day when using palo azul tea as a cleanser.
Palo azul tea has no known adverse clinical effects or medical interactions. As of June 2011, experts have yet to establish the herb's safety when used during pregnancy and lactation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the medicinal properties of the palo azul herb.