Herbs & Plants

Ammi visnaga

Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Species:A. visnaga
Kingdom: Plantae

Synonyms : Ammi dilatatum. Apium visnaga. Carum visnaga. Daucus visnaga.

Common names : Bisnaga, Toothpickweed, and Khella.

Habitat: Ammi visnaga is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.It grows in fields and sandy places.
Ammi visnaga is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height near 80 centimeters. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped body less than 3 millimeters long. This and other Ammi species are sources of khellin, a diuretic extract.


It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ. ( Sow under cover Feb-March in a seed tray, module or guttering. Sow direct March-May and/or August-September.)
Edible Uses: Leaves are chewed raw for their pleasant aromatic flavour

Chemical constituents:
Khellin, a chemical obtained from Ammi visnaga gives rose red color with KOH (solid) or NaOH & 2-3 drops of water, was used at one time as a smooth muscle relaxant, but its use is limited due to adverse side effects. Amiodarone and cromoglycate are derivates of khellin that are frequently used in modern medicine.

The chemical visnagin, which is found in A. visnaga, has biological activity in animal models as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure by inhibiting calcium influx into the cell.
Medicinal Uses:
Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic; Antispasmodic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.
In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones. Laborarory rat studies show that the extract slows the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and acts as a diuretic.
This plant and its components have shown effects in dilating the coronary arteries. Its mechanism of action may be very similar to the calcium channel-blocking drugs. The New England Journal of Medicine writes “The high proportion of favorable results, together with the striking degree of improvement frequently observed, has led us to the conclusion that Khellin, properly used, is a safe and effective drug for the treatment of angina pectoris.” As little as 30 milligrams of Khellin per day appear to offer as good a result, with fewer side effects. Rather than use the isolated compound “Khellin,” Khella extracts standardized for khellin content (typically 12 percent) are the preferred form.

A daily dose of such an extract would be 250 to 300 milligrams. Khella appears to work very well with hawthorn extracts. An aromatic herb which dilates the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure.

Visnaga is a traditional Egyptian remedy for kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the ureter, visnaga reduces the pain caused by the trapped stone and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. Following research into its antispasmodic properties, visnaga is now given for asthma and is safe even for children to take. Although it does not always relieve acute asthma attacks, it do3es help to prevent their recurrence. It is an effective remedy for various respiratory problems, including bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. In Andalusia in Spain, the largest and best quality visnaga were employed to clean the teeth. Khella is the source of amiodarone one of the key anti-arrhythmia medications. The usual recommendation calls for pouring boiling water over about a quarter-teaspoon of powdered khella fruits. Steep for five minutes and drink the tea after straining.

Its active constituent is khellin, a bronchiodilator and antispasmodic that makes it useful for asthma sufferers It’s best used to prevent asthma rather than to counter an attack and can be taken on a daily basis with no contraindications. Because khella builds up in the blood, its use can be decreased after a period of time. Khella is safer than ma huang (ephedra) for asthma sufferers because it’s nonstimulating and nonenervating. Unlike ma huang, it doesn’t rob the body, especially the adrenals, of energy.

Spasmolytic action of khellin and visnagin (both furanochromones) is indicated for treatment of asthma and coronary arteriosclerosis.
An extract from khella (Ammi visnaga) is so far the only herb found to be useful in vitili. Khellin, the active constituent, appears to work like psoralen drugs?it stimulates repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) to sunlight. Studies have used 120-160 mg of khellin per day. Khellin must be used with caution, as it can cause side effects such as nausea and insomnia.

Another use is for vitiligo (an extract from ammi visnaga appears to stimulate repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment containing cells, melanocytes to sunlight)

Other Uses: The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner

Known Hazards : Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if on warfarin or other blood thinning medication. Prolonged use may lead to: constipation, appetite loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea and vomiting.

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

News on Health & Science

14 Natural Items for Your Alternative First Aid Kit

Matador Network has assembled a list of 14 natural items everyone should have on hand for first aid. Here are a few:

It helps support a healthy immune system, and has antibacterial and antibiotic properties. If you start to feel an illness coming on, dosing yourself with a tincture of echinacea is a good way to help you stay healthy.

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Goldenseal is a powerful antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiparasitical potion. In powdered form, it can be applied to open cuts to help them from getting infected.

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3. Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)

Few things can kill a travel buzz like bad menstrual cramps. Cramp bark is a herbal alternative to over-the-counter painkillers. Cramp bark goes farther than just dulling the pain, it also helps to chill out the muscles that are causing the pain, thereby stopping the cramps. Take it in a tincture.

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4. All Heal………

All-Heal, Self- Heal and Heal-All are all common names of a plant that can be used as an antibiotic, antiseptic, astringent.

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5. Ginger ……..

Both ginger and peppermint can soothe stomach upsets with remarkable speed.

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6. Arnica..…….

Used externally, it is wonderful for removing bruises, bringing down puffiness or swelling, and easing deep aches. Internally, it can be used to alleviate headaches and help your body recover from trauma.

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7. Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Native to Australia, the tea tree plant produces a powerful astringent oil. Strong smelling tea tree oil should always be diluted in water, as a few drops goes a long way. It can be used to cleanse scratches and abrasions, to clean the face and in a neti pot to clean the sinuses. Drop a few drops in water and swish in your mouth like mouthwash if you are out of toothpaste. It can also reduce skin irritations, especially of the fungal variety.

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8. Licorice Tea

Licorice tastes delicious, is naturally sweet, and is super if you have a sore throat. It has mucilaginous properties that help keep dry throats from being scratchy, especially useful when traveling through smog and pollution. The tea can also be used to help get your digestion moving if you have cured the runs a little too well or eaten one too many fried morsels

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9. Emer-gen-C

While not a herb or homeopathic, Emer-gen-C is one of God’s gifts to travelers. Found in most US natural health and vitamin stores, it is a powdered, super-concentrated dose of Vitamin C that helps prevent you picking up whatever it was that guy next to you on the plane had. Better yet, Emer-gen-C is packed with electrolytes, which your body loses steadily when you sweat, especially in hot places. Pouring a packet into you water bottle is an easy way to replenish your body’s reserves of these essential nutrients and stave off dehydration. As a bonus, it also comes in many flavors, which can be nice when your water tastes like warm plastic. I recommend the “tropical” variety.

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10. Bach’s Rescue Remedy

Alright, so nobody really knows how flower essences work. It may all be in your head, but they are so effective, who cares? Bach’s, a British company, sells their popular blend of five flower essences called Rescue Remedy throughout the UK, parts of Europe, and specialty health stores in the US. Rescue Remedy is useful for just about everything. It helps you stay calm when dealing with long lines, customs officials, touts and layovers. It can ease the shock of transitions into a new culture, or back into your home one. They now have Rescue Remedy Sleep and Rescue Remedy Energy, which really should be called Rescue Remedy Travel because its been formulated to provide “relief for emotional fatigue brought on by stress or strain during times of personal difficulty”.

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11. Neem (Azadirachta indica) Powder

Considered a sacred plant in India, neem has dozens of uses, from acting as a natural air conditioner when placed in gardens to helping to keep your gums healthy. Neem powder may be difficult to find outside the subcontinent, but it’s worth a look at your local Asian grocery store if you can’t find it elsewhere. For travelers, neem is great for keeping those terrible pests of the night away. A natural insect repellent, you can sleep a little easier after sprinkling your sheets with the powder. It has a clean medicinal smell, though the odor can also deter some people from using it. Sprinkle some in your shoes to help ward off foot fungus as well.

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12. Clove Oil

This little spice packs a mighty aromatic punch, but clove oil’s real use is as a numbing agent. In dental emergencies, diluted clove oil can numb the gums, mouth, and teeth. It also may help keep tooth infections from spreading, as clove has anti-bacterial properties. Though its primary use is dental, clove oil can numb the skin as well and its aromatic properties can be reviving and motivating. Always dilute clove oil in water prior to application, and although it can be used in the mouth it should not be ingested.

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13. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Oil

Have a headache, feeling low, need to chill out? Getting tired of the smell of exhaust/open sewer/ smoke/ fish? Lavender oil is easy to throw in your bag, and you can rub it on your temple, the pressure points on the inside of your wrists, and under your nose. Aromatherapy is a simple and effective way to help you maintain emotional balance while on the move. As a bonus, it can also deter some insects from biting you, though I wouldn’t substitute it for a mosquito repellent in a malarial area. If nothing else, you can always use it to disguise the fact that you haven’t been near a shower in over a week. Just remember never to ingest lavender oil: it is toxic in such a concentrated form.

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14. Aloe Vera Gel

Getting sunburned sucks, especially when you have to carry a backpack on those peeling red shoulders. Rub some aloe vera on: it promotes healing and relieves that burning sensation. Your sunburn will ease into a tan faster.

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The key to using herbal and alternative medicine while traveling is to be prepared. If you normally use a one ounce tincture bottle at home, bring two or four. Remember that some things are hard to find when you’re far from home. Knowing the Latin names of certain plants is a good practice to get into.

Lastly, know when you need something more conventional. Alternative medicine can be a fantastic way to prevent illness or treat more common ailments, but there’s no shame in going to the pharmacy if the alternatives aren’t working for you.


SourceMatador Network April 13, 2011

News on Health & Science

Pill With a Will

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Patients often fail to take their medication properly. Technology steps in with some ideas. Amber Dance reports .

Did you take your medicine today?” Soon, patients won’t have to rely on their memories for the answer. Scientists are developing tablets and capsules that track when they’ve been popped, turning the humble pill into a high-tech monitoring machine. The goal: new devices to help people take their medicines on time and improve the results of clinical trials for new drugs.
Doctors can already prescribe pills that release drugs slowly or at a specific time. They even have camera pills that take snaps of their six to 12-metre journey through the gastrointestinal tract. The new pills tote microchips that make them even cleverer: they will report back to a recorder or smart phone exactly what kind and how much medicine has gone down the hatch and landed in the stomach. Someday they may also report on heart rate and other bodily data.

This next generation of pills is all about compliance, as it’s termed in doctor-speak — the tendency of patients to follow their doctors’ instructions (or not). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), half of patients don’t take their pills properly. They skip doses, take the wrong amount at the wrong time or simply ignore prescriptions altogether.

The most common reason for medication mistakes is forgetfulness, particularly among the elderly. “The number of prescriptions they get is mind-boggling,” says Jill Winters, dean, Columbia College of Nursing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to a 2004 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Merck Institute of Aging and Health, the average 75-year-old takes five different drugs.

Often, occasional lapses don’t matter. Smart pills like these are “not for your aspirin or even simple antibiotics,” says Maysam Ghovanloo, an electrical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The new technology is aimed at time-sensitive or costly medications.

For certain medications, not taking every pill can have serious consequences. For example, those mentally ill may require regular treatment to stay stable. Chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics for treating tuberculosis (TB) are also time-sensitive.

Blood pressure (BP) medication works only when taken on a regular basis; suddenly stopping it can cause the BP to skyrocket, says Daniel Touchette, a pharmacist and researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

With drugs for transplant patients, a person who misses a dose risks rejection of the new organ. Novartis International AG, based in Basel, Switzerland, is developing pills for transplant recipients; the pills communicate with a patch on the skin when they reach the stomach.

And in the case of TB, treatment requires a six-month course of antibiotics that come with side effects such as nausea and heartburn. Many people don’t understand why they have to keep taking the unpleasant drugs once they feel better — but going off the medication may make patients contagious again and allow drug-resistant TB to develop.

Yet another arena where compliance is crucial is clinical drug trials. Drugmakers can only be sure their medicine works if they’re sure subjects are actually taking it as directed. For now, experimenters rely on diaries where participants record their medication use. But people may fudge the data, not wanting to admit they dropped a pill down the drain or forgot to take it for a few days. To account for those who miss their medicines, firms have to spend extra — trials cost hundreds of millions of dollars — for larger trials just so enough people will actually take the drug.

Technology already offers some solutions, with mobile phone reminders and pill bottles that record when they’re opened. But none of these actually confirms that the medicine has been swallowed.

Ghovanloo hopes to improve compliance with a necklace that records every time a special pill slides down the esophagus. He calls it MagneTrace. By sounding an alarm or sending a mobile phone message, the necklace also would inform the wearer when it’s time for another dose. Caretakers or doctors could monitor the signals too.

The system works by radio-frequency identification, or RFID. Three magnets on a choker-type necklace act like pillars, continually surveying the neck. The pill contains an RFID chip to communicate with the magnets. When Ghovanloo tested the system in an artificial neck made of PVC pipe, the necklace detected 94 per cent of pills passing through it. He hopes to get that number up to 99 per cent and is adding a microchip that will also transmit information about the specific drug taken and its dose.

Ghovanloo coats the chips with a non-reactive material so that after the medicine dissolves, the hardware simply passes through and out of the digestive tract. However, Ghovanloo says he needs make the design more fashionable. “Right now, it’s not something that a lady would be willing to wear,” he says. For men, he might embed the device in a shirt collar.

Rizwan Bashirullah, an electrical engineer at the University of Florida in Gainesville, is also working on pills that will confirm they’ve been taken. “They’re essentially little stickers,” he says of his technology, called the ID-Cap. Gainesville-based eTect is developing the product.

Each sticker contains three components: a microchip, an antenna and an acid sensor. Altogether it’s approximately half the size of a postage stamp, says eTect President Eric Buffkin. The sensor activates the device when it lands in the acid environment of the stomach, and the chip uses the antenna to send electronic signals directly through the body’s tissues to a receiver, worn on a wristband. The silver antenna and sensor dissolve into safe components; these and the microchip, about as big as a grain of sand, are flushed out of the gut. Over the next year, the company plans to test the capsule for safety in animals and people, Buffkin says.

Source :
Los Angerles Times

Published by
The Telegraph ( Kolkata India)

Featured News on Health & Science

The Truth About the Super Bug

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The bug is actually a single-celled bacteria belonging to the Eschericia coli (E. coli) family. The species carries an enzyme called New Delhi metallo-beta—lactamase (NDM-1), which allows it to neutralise all known antibiotics and survive in their presence.

The enzyme was first isolated from a patient who had come to India for elective surgery. When he left, he took the “super bug” with him. No one knows how prevalent the organism is in India, as we do not have a centralised surveillance and reporting system that tracks hospital acquired infections and bacterial antibiotic resistance patterns.

Resistance is not a new phenomenon. Sulpha drugs and penicillin — the first antibiotics — were once hailed as “miracle” drugs. Today, they are hardly used. Overuse and misuse resulted in almost all bacteria becoming resistant to them.

If appropriate antibiotics are administered during a disease process caused by bacteria, the germs die. The host develops antibodies that help the body eliminate the weakened organisms.

E. coli has been around for thousands of years. That’s because the microorganisms developed “plasmids”, stable genetic elements composed of DNA or RNA. These help the bacteria grow resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. Once they have acquired this ability, they pass on the gene to other bacteria, even belonging to different species. Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella too have developed multiple drug resistance.

The outbreak of plague in Gujarat in 1994 killed hundreds. The state government realised the disease could be controlled by preventing rats from infesting human habitation and with appropriate antibiotic treatment. The situation was thus brought under control.

The spread of antibiotic resistance too can be controlled with combined concentrated effort. People are often “too busy” to consult a doctor when they are ill. The neighbourhood pharmacy then seems an attractive alternative. The man at the counter (often not a qualified pharmacist) dispenses antibiotics for coughs, colds, fever and diarrhoea. But there is often no rational or appropriate use of antibiotics.

Also, people sometimes do not complete the full course of a drug. They keep a few tablets, popping them for similar symptoms later or dispensing them to friends and relatives. A single dose may temporarily suppress the symptom. In a previously healthy person, the body’s natural defences then take over and eliminate the bacteria. The elderly or those with poor immunity become sicker, requiring the services of a qualified doctor. The bacteria, meanwhile, thrives in the presence of the antibiotic, because either they were not susceptible or the dosage was too small to be effective. Antibiotic resistance develops.

Practitioners of alternative systems of medicine prescribe and dispense antibiotics (which they are not licensed to use) inappropriately, perpetuating the problem.

At times, qualified physicians and surgeons use antibiotics prophylactically, especially after surgical procedures, to “prevent infection”. These antibiotics are eventually excreted by the body. They reach the sewage systems and seep through the earth. Bacteria are naturally present in sewage. They spread and multiply in the presence of the antibiotic.

Cattle and poultry feed are laced with antibiotics to “prevent” infection. Antibiotic resistant bacteria thrive on farms.

Everyone must play his or her part well to prevent another plague with super bugs which places the entire world population at risk.

• Take treatment only from qualified physicians

• Always buy antibiotics with a prescription, not OTC

• Complete the course in the dosage prescribed

Hygiene has to be maintained not just in the hospitals but also at home. Regularly washing hands, an elementary procedure, reduces infection and its spread.

Governments, nationally and internationally, need to maintain surveillance to monitor emerging infections and drug resistance patterns. If everyone — patients, doctors and the public — does not co-operate on a war footing, we may revert to the dark ages of the pre penicillin era. No antibiotic will work against infections and developing an infectious disease will turn out to be a death sentence.

An Article written by Dr Gita Mathai

Source: The Telegrtaph (Kolkata, India)

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Herbs & Plants

White Leadwort

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Botanical Name:Plumbago zeylanica
Parts used: roots, leaves;
Common Names in English:Cape Leadwort, White Plumbago
Common Name: chitra or chitraka, Chitrak, Agnimatha, Chitawa,

Habitat :This herbal plant is found throughout India. It grows wild as a garden plant in East, North and Southern India.

A much-branched shrub with long and tuberous roots and a striate stem (Plate 48). The leaves are up to 8 cm long, simple, glabrous, alternate, ovate or oblong, with an entire or wavy margin, an acute apex and a short petiole. The flowers are white in terminal spikes, with a tubular calyx, a slender, glandular, hairy corolla tube, with five lobes and five stamens, a slender style and a stigma with five branches. The fruit is a membranous capsule enclosed within the persistent calyx. The dried roots occur as cylindrical pieces of varying length, less than 1.25 cm in width, reddish-brown in colour with a brittle, fairly thick, shrivelled, smooth or irregularly fissured bark. The roots have a short fracture, an acrid and biting taste and disagreeable odour.

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Uses: in Ayurveda, pacifies kapha dosha (pungent, light, dry, sharp), anticancer, antifertility, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, prevention of antibiotic resistance, immunomodulator, anti-coagulant, abortifacient, vesicant, rheumatism, diarrhea, diuretic, skin conditions; precautions: pregnancy.

Medicinal uses:-
in Ayurveda, pacifies kapha dosha (pungent, light, dry, sharp), anticancer, antifertility, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, prevention of antibiotic resistance, immunomodulator, anti-coagulant, abortifacient, vesicant, rheumatism, diarrhea, diuretic, skin conditions; precautions: pregnancy.

In Ayurveda Chitra is used in treatment of various diseases and disorders. The chitrak root contains an acrid crystalline principle called ‘Plumbagin’ that is a powerful irritant and has well marked antiseptic properties. In small doses, the drug is a sudorific;

large doses cause death from respiratory failure. It is suggested that the action is probably due to the direct effect of the drug on the muscles. Chitrak root is also said to increase the digestive power and promote appetite and used in cases of enlarged spleen. A paste made from root is applied to abscesses to open them. Ayurvedic doctors recommend the root of chitrak for dyspepsia, piles, anasarca, diarrhea, skin diseases etc. It is also useful in colic, inflammations, cough, bronchitis, helminthiasis, haemorrhoids, elephantiasis, chronic and intermittent fever, leprosy, leucaderma, ring-worm, scabies, hepatosplenomegaly, amenorrhoea, odontalgia, vitiated conditions of vata and kapha and anaemia. The herb is also used as part of many ayurvedic compound remedies for rubifacient applications.

Anticancer activity: Plumbagin has been reported as having anticancer activity against fibrosarcoma induced by methyl cholanthrene and P388 lymphocytic leukaemia, but not against L1210 lymphoid leukaemia in mice. It is thought to be an inhibitor of mitosis. It has also been evaluated against Dalton’s ascitic lymphoma, where an inhibition of tumour growth and a significant enhancement of mean survival time were observed for treated mice compared to the control group. Peritoneal cell counts were also enhanced. Plumbagin­treated groups were able to reverse the changes in various haematological parameters which are a consequence of tumour inoculation. Studies have shown that plumbagin, when administered orally at a dose of 4 mg/kg body weight, caused tumour regression in rats with 3-methyl-4­dimethyl aminoazobenzene (3MeDAB)-induced hepatoma. It reduced levels of glycolytic enzymes such as hexokinase, phosphoglucoisomerase and aldolase levels, which are increased in hepatoma-bearing rats, and increased levels of gluconeogenic enzymes such as glucose­.6-phosphatase and fructose-I ,6-diphosphatase which are decreased in tumour hosts.

Antifertility activity: In rats, treatment during the first week of pregnancy abolished certain uterine proteins resulting in both pre­implantationary loss and abortion of the foetus. Uterine endopeptidases (cathepsin D, remin and chymotrypsin) were studied after the root powder had induced these effects and cathepsin D and renin activities were found to be decreased whilst chymotrypsin activity was increased. The results indicated that cathepsin D and renin may playa role in maintenance of pregnancy and chymotrypsin may be involved in postabortive involution. Plumbagin, at a dose of I and 2 mg/IOO g body weight, prevented implantation and induced abortion in albino rats without any teratogenic effects, and produced a significant inhibitory effect on copper acetate-induced ovulation in rabbits.

Antiinflammatory activity: A phosphate buffered saline extract of the roots of P. zrylanica stabilised red blood cells subjected to both heat- and hypotonic-induced lyses,A biphasic response and a reduction in the enzymatic activities of alkaline and acid phosphatases were observed and adenosine triphosphate activity was stimulated in liver homogenates of formaldehyde-induced arthritic rats.

Antimicrobial activity: A chloroform extract from P. zeylanica showed significant activity against penicillin- and non-penicillin resistant strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It also showed antibacterial activity against Bacillus mycoides, B. pumilus, B. subtilis, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and others. Eye drops containing 50 llg/ml of plumbagin demonstrated significant antibacterial, antiviral and antichlamydial effects in eye diseases with few side effects. Aqueous, hexane and alcoholic extracts of the plant were found to show interesting antibacterial activity. The alcoholic extract was the most active and showed no toxicity when assayed using fresh sheep erythrocytes.

Antibiotic resistance modification: Plumbagin has been studied for its effect on the development of antibiotic resistance using sensitive strains of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. When the organisms were inoculated into the antibiotic (streptomycin/rifampicin) medium, some growth was observed due to development of resistance. However, it was completely prevented when plumbagin was added to the medium and this was attributed to prevention of antibiotic resistance.

Antioxidant activity: At a concentration of 1 mM, plumbagin prevented peroxidation in liver and heart homogenates. By a comparison with menadione (which has one hydroxyl group less) it was suggested that plumbagin may prevent NADPH and ascorbate-induced microsomal lipid peroxidation by forming hydroquinones. These may trap free radical species involved in catalysing lipid peroxidation.

Immunomodulatory activity: The effect of plumbagin was studied on peritoneal macro phages of BALB/c mice, evaluated by bactericidal activity, hydrogen peroxide production and superoxide anion release. The bactericidal activity in vivo of plumbagin-treated mouse macrophages was estimated using Staphylococcus aureus and in low doses plumbagin caused a constant increase in bactericidal activity. It was also seen to exert a similar response on oxygen radical release, showing a correlation between oxygen radical release and bactericidal activity. Plumbagin appeared to augment macrophage bactericidal activity at low concentrations by potentiating oxygen radical release, whereas at higher concentrations it had an inhibitory effect.

Hypolipidaemic activity: When administered to hyperlipidaemic rabbits, plumbagin reduced serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 53-86% and 61-91 % respectively. It also lowered the cho/esteroV phospholipid ratio and elevated HDL cholesterol significantly. Furthermore, plumbagin treatment prevented the accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver and aorta and caused regression of atheromatous plaques of the thoracic and abdominal aorta. The animals treated with plumbagin excreted more faecal cholesterol and phospholipids.

Uterine stimulant activity: The juice extracted from the root was found to have potent activity when tested on rat uterus in vitro, as well as on isolated human
myometrial strips. This ecbolic effect was not blocked by either atropine sulphate or pentolinium bitartrate.

Anticoagulant activity: Plumbagin significantly increased prothrombin time, GPT, total protein and alkaline phosphatase levels in liver tissue and decreased GPT levels in serum. The anti-vitamin K activity was thought to be associated with the hydroxyl group attached to the naphthoquinone ring ofthe compound.

Digestive effects: The roots of Plumbago zeylanica were found to stimulate the proliferation of coliform bacteria in mice and act as an intestinal flora normaliser. This supports claims that the plant is a digestive stimulant.

Safety profile
The LDso of plumbagin is approximately 10 mg/kg body weight (oral and IP) in mice and a 50% alcoholic extract of the root or whole plant has an LD50 of 500 mg/kg body weight when given IP.26 In view of the documented abortifacient activity, it should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.

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.


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