Sow thistle

Botanical Name :Sonchus oleraceus Linn.
Family:Asteraceae/ Compositae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Sonchus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Synonyms :Hare’s Thistle. Hare’s Lettuce.
Scientific names :  Sonchus oleraceus Linn.,Hieracium oleracerum Linn. ,Lactuca oleracerea Linn.
Common names :Gagatang (Ig.),Common sowthistle (Engl.),Milkweed (Engl.) ,Milk thistle (Engl.) ,Smooth sow thistle (Engl.) ,Swinles (Engl.) ,Sow thistle (Engl.)

Habitat :Found in the Benguet subprovinces, Rizal and Laguna provinces in Luzon. In waster places, along trails, old gardens, on talus slopes at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,000 meters

Description:
Sow thistle is an herb, erect, annual, milky, hairy or slightly glandular, growing 40 to 80 cm high. Leaves are oblong to lanceolate, 10 to 20 cm long, coarsely and lyrately lobed; the lobes somewhat reflexed and toothed, the terminal ones large, the lateral pointing downwards, and those of the stem clasping at the base. Heads are peduncled, about 1 cm long. Bracts are smooth, thin and green. Flowers are numerous and yellow. Achenes are nearly 3 mm long, compressed, ribbed and rough.

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It has hollow thick, branched stems full of milky juice, and thin, oblong leaves, more or less cut into (pinnatifid) with irregular, prickly teeth on the margins. The upper leaves are much simpler in form than the lower ones, clasping the stem at their bases.

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The flowers are a pale yellow, and when withered, the involucres close over them in a conical form. The seed vessels are crowned with a tuft of hairs, or pappus, like most of this large family of Compositae.

Edible Uses:
The young leaves are still in some parts of the Continent employed as an ingredient in salads It used in former times to be mingled with other pot herbs, and was occasionally employed in soups; the smoothest variety is said to be excellent boiled like spinach.

Constituents:
* Contains fixed oil with stearic and palmitic acids, ceryl-alcohol, invert sugar, choline, tartaric acid.
* Milky juice contains oxydase, coautchoue, mannite, l-inosite, etc.
* Phytochemicals of aqueous extracts yielded sugar reducers, phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids and coumarins.
* Study yielded four sesquiterpene glycosides – sonchusides A, B, C and D together with five known glycosides – glucozaluzanin C, macrocliniside A, crepidiaside A and picrisides A and C.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts used: Stem, leaves, gum, juice.

Folkloric:-
* Brownish gum formed by the evaporation of the common sow thistle, when taken internally in a dose of two to four grains, acts as a “powerful hydragogue cathartic” with strong effects on the liver, duodenum and colon. Its effects resemble elaterium, producing large and watery discharges, thus an effective agent in ascites and hydrothorax. However, it may cause griping like senna and produce tenemus like aloes. To counteract that effect, the gum is administered with manna, aniseed, and carbonate of magnesia, or with stimulants and aromatics

* Infusion of leaves and roots used by the natives of Bengal as tonic and febrifuge.

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*In Indochina, stems used as sedative and tonic.

*In Italy, used as a laxative and diuretic.

*Juice of the plant used for cleaning and healing ulcers.

*In Brazilian folk medicine, used as a general tonic.

Studies
• Antidepressant: Study of S oleraceus extracts in mice showed evidence of an antidepressant-like effect comparable to that of amitriptyline (10mg/K p.o.).

• Antinociceptive: Extracts of SO markedly demonstrated antinociceptive action in mice, supporting previous claims of traditional use. At 300 mg/kg, it had a stronger antinociceptive effect than indomethacin (5 mg/kg) and morphine (10 mg/kg).

• Anxiolytic: Study of extract of aerial parts showed anxiolytic effects in mice similar to clonazepam (0.5 mg/kg).

• Phytochemicals / Low Toxicity: Study of aqueous extracts showed phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids and coumarins. Toxicity test on Artemia salina indicated low toxicity.

• Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity: Study of SO extracts showed concentration-dependent antioxidant activity. The methanol extracts yielded the greatest the most phenolic and flavonoid contents. Cytotoxicity activity showed the ethanol extract had the best activity against the growth of stomach cancer cell.

• Anti-Quorum Sensing / Antimicrobial: A study of 14 ethanolic extracts of different parts of 8 plants for antimicrobial and antiquorum sensing activity showed Sonchus oleraceus and Laurus nobilis to have superior activity against Chromobacterium violaceum. Quorum sensing is involved in microbial pathogenesis, and its inhibition may be a way of controlling bacterial infections with the advantage of reducing risks of resistance development.

Other Uses:
Its chief use nowadays is as food for rabbits. There is no green food they devour more eagerly, and all keepers of rabbits in hutches should provide them with a plentiful supply. Pigs are also particularly fond of the succulent leaves and stems of the Sow-Thistle.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sowthi71.html
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Gagatang.html
http://www.plantsystematics.org/imgs/kcn2/r/Asteraceae_Sonchus_oleraceus_33896.html

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