What is Tejocote?
You will find the plant Tejocote under many different names. It is called Mexican Hawthorn in English. In Spanish it is called Raiz de tegjocote, Manzanita, Manzana de Indias, and Tejocotera. Finally, its scientific name in Latin is Crataegus Mexicana. The name Tejocote apparently originated from the Nahuatl language, where tetl means stone and xócotl means fruit. Thus, the original name translates into English as stone fruit (or hard fruit)
Tejocote is native to Mexico and Central America. It is a thorny tree that sheds its leaves. Tejocote usually groups to around 20-25 ft. high. The leaves of the Tejocote are oval or diamond shaped and grow to between 4 and 8 centimeters long. When it flowers, the tree creates bunches of flowers that start out white and turn to pink or red as they age.
The fruit that is produced from the Tejocote tree looks like a small apple. It is oblong shaped and ranges in color from orange to red. The fruits are seasonal and are only available to be harvested in the fall. It is no wonder, then, that one of the English names for the plant is Mexican Wild Crabapple. In many ways—shape, texture, and flavor—the fruit of the Tejocote tree is extremely similar to those other plants.
Usually only the root of the Tejocote is used for medicinal reasons. However, depending on the product you use, there could be other plants in the mixture. Also, in traditional Mexican medicine, Tejocote fruits are used to treat a variety of problems as well.
The fruit of the Tejocote tree is used as a food in Mexico, both as a drink (the traditional beverage made with Tejocote is called ponche). The fruit can also be eaten fresh or in jams, jellys, and candys. It is said to taste like a slightly bitter apple. The root is not used in any culinary preparation.
The tree and its fruit are often used for ornamental, not culinary or medicinal, purposes.
One final thing to keep in mind when considering using Tejocote, is that there are fourteen different species of the plant that have the same name. These species nutrient make-up vary greatly, and there is no way of knowing which version of Tejocote you are purchasing because they all fall under the same label. This can make quality control and studies on the fruit and root of the Tejocote quite hard, which explains why there are so few in the scientific literature.
Tejocote Benefits, and Uses
There has not been much research done on the medicinal properties of the Tejocote root and fruit. However, many companies make impressive claims about the healing power of this little fruit. Below, we’ve listed the most common benefits and uses of Tejocote and discussed the research and anecdotal evidence for each category.
The major stated benefit of Tejocote is its ability to help in weight loss efforts. In fact, the company Alipotec Tejocote specializes in selling capsules of Tejocote root as a weight loss supplement.
There seems to be no research that confirms the many extravagant weight loss claims of the companies listed above. In fact, the only evidence to confirm any sort of weight loss benefits from the plant are anecdotal.
The available anecdotal evidence does seem to suggest that the plant can cause weight loss. However, that weight loss likely comes from the diuretic properties of Tejocote. This could make Tejocote unsafe to use long-term, as diuretics are not a good long-term weight solution since they can strip your body of potassium, sodium, and hydration.
One of the few benefits of Tejocote that has been widely studied is its high volume of antioxidants. A 2013 study found that Tejocote has a high level of phenolic compounds and Vitamin C. These elements were even more present in Tejocote than in other Crataegus fruits. Phenols are one of the biggest antioxidants in food. The healing properties associated with Tejocote make sense when you understand what a high concentration of phenol compounds they possess.
In addition to the 2013 study, a 2011 study also found a high concentration of flavonoids in the flowers of the Tejocote. Flavonoids are an important antioxidant. They, along with the Vitamin C and phenolic compounds found in the 2013 study, help provide an anti-inflammatory response in the body and can improve the immune system.
There are not many studies that support the claim that Tejocote clears up constipation; however, one study from 1994 published in the Instituto Nacional Indigenista does examine the diuretic properties of Tejocote as well as crataegus stipulosa and crataegus nelson. For this study an infusion of the leaf, flowers, roots, and bark was used. The infusion also seems to treat urinary tract and kidney problems.
Anecdotes also mention the diuretic properties of Tejocote. It is actually this function that many assume causes the weight loss associated with the plant. See our discussion above on Tejocote and weight loss for more information.
The 1994 study did not only find that Tejocote could treat constipation. They also name respiratory problems like respiratory tract diseases, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, chest congestion, and chest pain as possible uses for the plant. In this case it was the boiled fruit of the Tejocote plant that produced the desired effects. It is likely the plants antispasmodic properties that helps to reduce coughing and irritation in your throat.
Two studies, 2002 and 2005, found that Tejocote has hypoglycemic properties and can potentially treat diabetes. The hypoglycemic effect of Tejocote was most useful during the early stages of diabetes. However, in the 2005 study that described this effect, Tejocote was just one of 306 species of Mexican plant examined in relation to diabetes treatment.
Similarly, the 2002 study cited as showing the way Tejocote can be used as a treatment for diabetes also examined a wide variety of other possible medical uses of the plant. While not a bad thing, this does indicate that more studies need to be done on the link between Tejocote and diabetes treatments.
Traditionally, Tejocote has been used to prevent and treat heart conditions. This is a common use of Hawthorns or Crataegus, the genus that Tejocote falls into. The fruits of other hawthorns like Crataegus aronia, Crataegus cuneate, Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus oxycantha, Crataegus aronica, Crataegus phaenopyrum, Crataegus ambigua, Crataegus tanacetifolla, and Crataegus meyerl have been studied for their ability to treat cardiovascular diseases.
Tejocote has not played a specific role in these studies. However, because it is a Hawthorne, it stands to reason that it would have a similar effect on the heart. There is also some evidence—most of it anecdotal—that suggests that Tejocote can prevent cardiovascular problems when taken regularly. Yet, some studies show the promise of Tejocote as a treatment for class II congestive heart failure.
Because Tejocote has been studied very little by the scientific community, there is little dosage information. The company Alipotec Tejocote—the main seller of the product—claims that you should take micodoses of Tejocote root every three days.
The microdose of Alipotec’s product is in capsule form, which you should take with a large glass of water. You should make sure to drink at least right full glasses of water per day when you take Tejocote. Always make sure to use Tejocote in the way described on the package.
In addition to the root, Tejocote fruit is also often used to treat various medical conditions. If you are using the fruit to treat a cough or flu, then you should buy it in cough syrup or tea form. You can purchase tea packets from Herbal Solutions. You could also buy Tejocote fruits in syrup and sip on the syrup to alleviate your cough. there is no information on how much you need to drink to create the desired results.
Tejocote Side Effects, Safety, Dangers and Warnings
Tejocote has not been studied enough to be medically certain that it does not cause side effects and is safe for all users. However, anecdotal evidence seems to show that it is safe for most people. The product is not recommended for people under twelve or over sixty-five.
Some side effects have been mentioned by sources. These include headaches, nausea, weakness, sleepiness, fatigue, cramps, and lethargy. These side effects can be reportedly eliminated by eating a banana a day. You should also not use the product on any diet program that requires fasting, as this could intensify the side effects.
Both the side effects and the safety of the substance is usually mentioned on sites that sell Tejocote, so their claims must be taken with a grain of salt. Some of the side effects they mention can be serious. So, you should take Tejocote at your own risk.
As with all new medications, we recommend discussing Tejocote with your doctor before you begin taking it. This will be especially important for pregnant or nursing mothers.