Bangka-bangkaan is a stout perennial herbaceous, somewhat fleshy plant, 0.5 meters in height or less, the stem thick and unbranched. Leaves are lanceolate, acuminate, 40 to 60 centimeters long, 4 to 6 centimeters wide, fleshy, the upper surface dark green, the lower purple.
Flowers are numerous in each inflorescence, fascicled, white, about 1 centimeter in diameter. Inflorescence, axillary, short, peduncled, the flowers surrounded by 2 large, imbricate, laterally compressed, distichous, 3 to 4 centimeters long purplish bracts.
• Decoction of dried or fresh leaves used for cough, colds, hemoptysis, whooping cough, nose bleed.
• Bacillary dysentery, blood in the stool.
• Used for lymphatic tuberculosis.
• In Singapore, sold in markets as both ornamental and medicinal: Boiled in water, it is believed to have cooling properties.
• In Thai medicine, used for fever, cough and bronchitis.
• In Cuba, frictions and cataplasms used to treat wounds. In the Caribbean, poultice of leaves used for asthma.
• In Puerto Rico, decoction of leaves used in the treatment of psoriasis.
Remember: The plant sap is considered poisonous. Contact may cause stinging and itching of the skin and eyes. Ingestion may cause irritation of the lips, mouth, throat and abdominal pain.
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