In the Amazon Rainforest, many of the native tribes use matico leaves as an antiseptic. In Peru, it was used for stopping hemorrhages and treating ulcers, and in European practice in the treatment of diseases of the genitals and urinary organs, such as those for which cubeb was often prescribed.
Matico is a tropical, evergreen, shrubby tree that grows to the height of 6 to 7 meter (20 to 23 ft) with lance-shaped leaves that are 12 to 20 centimeter (5 to 8 in) long. It is native to Southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of tropical South America. It is grown in tropical Asia, Polynesia, and Melanesia and can even be found in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. In some countries Matico is considered as an invasive weed. In parts of New Guinea, although Matico is notorious for drying out the soil in the areas where it is invasive, the wood of this plant is nonetheless used by local residents for a myriad of uses such as for fuel and fence posts.
According to legends, the plant was discovered by a wounded Spanish soldier named Matico. He learned, presumably from the local tribes, that applying the leaves to his wounds stopped bleeding, and it began to be called "Matico" or "soldier's herb". It was introduced into the profession of medicine in the United States and Europe by a Liverpool physician in 1839 as a styptic and astringent for wounds.
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- Siges, T.; A.E. Hartemink, P. Hebinck & B.J. Allen (2005). "The invasive shrub Piper aduncum and rural livelihoods in the Finschhafen area of Papua New Guinea". Human Ecology 33 (6): 875–893. doi:10.1007/s10745-005-8214-7. Retrieved 2007-04-16.
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