Common Name: Brazil Nut
Botanical Name: Bertholletia excelsa
Family Name: Lecythindaceae
Other Names: Alemendras (Bolivian), castana-de-brazil, castana-de-para (Brazilian), castanheiro do para, castania, creamnut, para-nut,
Meaning of Common Name: Brazil nut refers to the fact that this tree grows primarily in Brazil.
Meaning of Botanical Name: Bertholletia is names for Comte Claude-Louis Berthollet. Excelsa is Latin for tall.
Type: Tropical evergreen tree
Native to: Parts of Central and South America
Where to find it: The Brazil nut tree now grows only in a small part of Brazil, in the few old-growth forests left there.
Appearance: The Brazil nut tree is one of the tallest in the world, growing to astonishing heights of 300 feet or more. The trunk will shoot up several hundred feet in the air without any branches. The last fifty to one hundred feet will have several large, branching limbs. The canopy is very round and full. The bark is brownish and lightly cracked. The leaves are oblong, lanceolate, wavy, margined, and a flat, dark green. The flowers are yellow, round and entire. The seedpods are very large, often weighing ten pounds or more. They look like coconuts, and contain 15-20 large Brazil nuts. The Brazil nut hull is very hard, brown, and crackled. The nut is three sided, oblong, white and very smooth.
Look-alikes: The Brazil nut tree is so tall that proper identification is sometimes hard, unless the nuts are available on the ground to inspect.
Cultivation: The Brazil nut tree can only be established in its native range, due to its need for the carpenter bee and manila rat. However, as a single specimen, Brazil nut trees can be grown in the right climate. They require a year-round tropical environment, tons of space, full sun, rich soil and deep watering. Due to their enormous size, they could not possibly be brought indoors.
Life Span: 100-400 years
Gardening Ideas: If you happen to live in a tropical or sub-tropical environment, a Brazil nut tree would be an interesting tree to grow, so long as you have substantial room.
Culinary Uses: The Brazil nut is favored around the world for its rich, succulent taste. The nut is usually eaten raw or toasted, but can be made into butter, and used as replacement for macadamia nuts and even coconut in other recopies.
Part Used: Nut
Flavor: Rich, succulent
Nutrition: Brazil nuts are extremely good for your health. In fact, one Brazil nut exceeds the USDA recommended daily value of selenium, a vital trace mineral in our bodies used to remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the body. It also contains trace amino acids, which increase your bodys ability to absorb selenium. It is a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and thiamine. Brazil nuts are 69 percent fat (the highest of any nut), eighteen percent protein and thirteen percent carbohydrates. Of the fat content, only 25 percent is saturated. The Brazil nut contains radium, a radioactive substance. Compared to other plants and foods, Brazil nuts contain the highest amount of radium in any edible food, but not enough to harm your body.
Constituents: Palmitic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, alpha linoleic acid, myristic acid, stearic acid, phytosterols, selenium, cysteine, methionine, glutamine, glutamic acid, arginine, antimony, cerium, cesium, europimum, fatty acids, lanthanum, lutetium, samarium, scansium, selenoprotien, tantalum, tungsten, ytterbium
Precautions: Avoid handling Brazil nuts if you are allergic to tree nuts, as you may experience reactions.
Side Effects: None reported
Overdose: Eating too many of the nuts over a long period of time may cause an overdose of selenium. Early signs of selinium overdose include a garlicy smell on the breath, poor apetite, white spots on the skin or nails and sour taste in the mouth. If left untreated, further symptoms will occur, including hair loss, tooth decay, brittle nails, loss of feeling in the hands and feet, and discoloration of the skin. If you notice these symptoms, limit your intake of Brazil nuts. If the symptoms are severe, see your doctor.
Allergy: If you are allergic to nuts, especially tree nuts, proceed with caution when consuming Brazil nuts, as you may be allergic, or you may develop a reaction later.
Medicinal Uses: Brazil nuts may provide a role in treating and even curing autism. Recent research has shown significant similarities between autism and mercury poisoning. Both conditions produce a small magnetic field in the center of the brain, sheilding off parts of the brain entirely, making it hard or impossible to function normally. This has led some to believe that autism is simply mercury poisoning from birth, resulting from the mothers exposure to mercury, as well as the childs sensitivity to it. If this is true, the high levels of selenium in Brazil nuts may provide a solid treatment for autism as well as mercury poisoning. The selinium in the nuts binds with heavy metals, and pulls them out of the system. Over time, this will completely remove the traces of mercury in the body. If you drink tap water, you may be introducing heavy metals, such as mercury and lead into your body. Eating Brazil nuts, regularly will help prevent the buildup of heavy minerals, and can also be used to treat a significant buildup.
A tea made of the bark is used as a remedy for stomachache, liver disease, and as a liver cleanser. The oil from the nut is used as a skin conditioner and to sooth eczema. The nut itself is extremely high in selenium one nut exceeds the recommended daily value of selenium. Because of the high selenium content, Brazil nuts have a powerful antioxidant and cleansing effect. They fight free radicals, prevent tumors and cancers and cleanse the body of heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Brazil nuts are also quite high in vitamin E, which is also an antioxidant.
Medicinal Actions: To treat mercury poisoning, exposure to heavy metals, and autism, simply eat one to three nuts daily until symptoms disappear. For stomach ache, simply drink a cup of tea made from the bark. For liver disease and as a lvier cleanser, drink one to two cups a day for up to three weeks.
Magickal Energies: Healing, love
Magickal Uses: Brazil nuts are considered an aphrodisiac in some areas, and can be eaten to raise sexual vibrations. The nuts and other parts of the tree can also be carried to attract romance, or added to love or sexuality recipes. It can also be used specifically to the vibration of brotherly love; to attract a close male friend. The nuts are eaten for health and vitality, and are also carried to protect the wearer from disease.
Domestic Uses: Brazil nut oil is pressed and used to lubricate clocks, make soaps and candles, and to make high quality paints. In rural parts of South America, the husks are burnt as a mosquito repellant. While the timber aquired from the Brazil nut tree is strong and has good grain, logging of Brazil nut trees is strictly banned.
Cosmetic Uses: Brazil nut oil is a superb hair conditioner, as it restores shine and luster, conditions the scalp and eliminates frizz. It can be added to shampoos and conditioners, or used on its own as a deep conditioning treatment, or to add shine and eliminate frizz.
Economical Impact: Brazil nuts are an important source for local people, as food, medicine and bug repellant. In some places, they are so valuable that they are traded much like money.
Environmental Impact: The Brazil nut is at the center of a fascinating min-ecosystem. Brazil nut trees some of the tallest in the forest, providing shelter for countless birds and monkeys. But more interestingly, it has a close relationship with two animals, the orchid bee and the manila rat. The bee is the sole pollinator of the giant tree, ensuring its survival. In turn, the tree provides the bee with a wonderful supply of nectar and pollen. The manila rat is the only animal in the forest (besides humans) that can get into the hard seedpods, meaning that the manila rat is the only hope the tree has for dispersing the seeds. In turn, the rat gets a satisfying and fattening food.
Most Brazil nuts are harvested from the wild, after the nuts have fallen to the ground. But over 300,000 Brazil nut treees are grown on plantations, which are cleared from the rainforest, resulting in loss of habitat for hundreds of creatures and plants. The Brazil nut trade is an industry worth millions; the trade in Brazil alone is wroth almost 33 million dollars. However, the Brazil nut is a vulnerable species, and harvesting is threatening it, as well as the manila rat and orchid bee. The industry is predicted to collapse at some point if more sustainable methods are not found.
History: The peoples of South America have utilized the Brazil nut for thousands of years, using it as a food soucrce, medicine, skin protectant and moisturizer, and to make various items such as soap, candles and mosquitto repellant.