The Congorosa tree (Maytenus ilicifolia), commonly known as Espinheira Santa in Brazil, belongs to the Celastraceae family and is found throughout the country.
This plant, which is thorny and whose leaves have a serrated edge, has numerous medicinal qualities; in particular, the leaves have antibacterial and antiviral properties and are useful for arthritis, rheumatism, stomach ulcers and liver problems. They also have sedative and vasodilatory components and, in general, help to stabilize hormones.
Despite these numerous properties, the majority of local people do not know about this plant. What’s more, even less people use it: usually the leaves of this plant are used to prepare relaxing infusions that have a rich flavor, which are even used as an aperitif.