Ringworm Bush (Akapulko) – Cassia alata

Ringworm Bush (Akapulko) – Cassia alata.jpg
Ringworm Bush (Akapulko) flower
Ringworm Bush (Cassia alata) Akapulco.jpg
Akapulko bush

Ringworm Bush (Akapulko) – Cassia alata

An erect, shrubby legume reaching 6 ft tall, Akapulko grows throughout the Philippines. It has dark green leaves and yellow-orange flowers, producing as much as 50 to 60 small, triangular seeds. For medicinal purposes, leaves, flowers and seeds are used.

The akapulko leaves contain chrysophanic acid, a fungicide that is used to treat fungal infections, like ringworms, scabies and eczema

Medicinal Uses:

  • Decoction of leaves and flowers is very effective in easing asthma, cough and bronchitis.
  • The seeds are effective in expelling intestinal parasites.
  • Juice from leaves aids in controlling fungal infections like; eczema, athlete’s foot, ringworm, scabies, and herpes.
  • Pounded leaves reduce injury-related swellings, treat insect bites, and ease rheumatism.
  • Leaves and flowers concoction used as mouthwash in treating stomatitis.
  • Juice from leaves ease fetid discharges.
  • The leaves stain is an effective purgative.

News about Ringworm Bush (Akapulko)

Propagation of Senna Alata

By Bonnie Singleton (Demand Media)

Senna alata is known as Christmas candle because it has yellow flower spikes on its evergreen shrubbery that look like thick, waxy candlesticks. The plant is an easy-to-grow perennial that thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11. It also grows as an annual in zones 8 and 9. Simple propagation techniques will produce healthy specimens that provide a lovely floral display for your home garden and will also attract butterflies.

Senna alata

Senna alata is from the bean family and originally found in tropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and America. It can reach a height of up to 30 feet in its native habitat, although 5 to 8 feet is more typical in a backyard garden, with a spread approximately half that width. An aggressive grower, especially in areas with a high water table, Senna alata often forms thickets through natural propagation. For this reason, the shrub is a good choice for borders. As a specimen plant, it could also be grown in outdoor containers or tubs.

Propagation Source

You may propagate the plant by growing seeds, which may be sold under the plant's various alternate names including candle bush, candlestick tree, candelabra bush, Christmas candle, Empress candle, golden candlestick, popcorn senna and ringworm tree. If you have access to Senna alata plants, collect seeds from the six-inch long seed pods, which can contain as many as 60 seeds each. On their own, senna alata pods and seeds can be distributed by water or animals, or the plant will sucker from roots.


If you're collecting your own seeds, harvest pods in the fall and store them in a dry location over the winter. Pop open the pods in the spring and start cultivating seeds indoors from February through March, or several weeks before the last average frost date, to give the seedlings a head start. For best results, first soak seeds in warm water overnight before planting. Because they're fast growers, seedlings usually bloom the first year from seed.


Plant seeds about three quarters of an inch deep in a well-drained soil and humus mixture with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Find an area with full sun for the seedlings' permanent home and feed with a balanced fertilizer after planting and then once a month during the growing season. Senna alata plants are drought-tolerant, but they will still benefit from being watered regularly and given a layer of mulch during the hottest summer months. As young plants develop, pinch new growth to increase the number of future flower spikes, and prune mature plants back in spring to improve flowering.


All parts of the Senna alata plant are poisonous if swallowed and should be kept away from children or pets. Because this shrub can become invasive under certain conditions, some areas have banned the introduction of the plant or seeds into the region. This is less of a problem in the U.S. than in other places, such as some areas of Australia. Use caution when adding Senna alata to your garden and keep any eye on where it goes to prevent its invasion into natural habitats.

Akapulko as anti-fungal medication

By Noel Colina

The floods caused by both nature – typhoon Ketsana and Parma - and the dam managers, exposed many of the already suffering victims to various diseases. With many areas remaining submerged, people had to wade through thigh-high mud and water, making them vulnerable to various ailments, among them skin disease.

This was very evident when IOHSAD, through the Task Force Obrero, conducted a relief and medical mission last October 1, 2009 at Ampid, San Mateo, Rizal. More than 30% of the patients had varying foot problems because of the constant exposure to dirty water. We needed to bring more anti-fungal medicines for the next mission but this become very difficult.

Those pharmacies who usually provides us solicited medicines were already running out of stock. To buy them would be too expensive. We decided, with a strong push from our resident herbalist Emma, to make them instead.

We've been able to produce anti-fungal medication for more than 300 people, although our little workshop can produce more but sourcing the ingredients have proven difficult. Before we were able to easily source Akapulko (Senna Alata L.), the main ingredient, from Marikina, but it was one of the areas devastated by the typhoon.

Here are the instructions on how to make anti-fungal medication from Akapulko leaves:


• Akapulko
• Wooden spatula
• Sterilized containers with wide mouth (for ointment)
• Coconut oil
• Wax #5
• Clay pot
• Cheese cloth
• measuring cups


  1. Clean the Akapulko leaves
  2. Mix 1 part of coconut oil and 1 part of Akapulko leaves in the clay pot
  3. Stir the mixture with wooden spatula until oil is green and the leaves have become brittle
  4. Pour the oil inside the cheesecloth to filter the leaves.
  5. Pour the oil in another clay pot and mix with wax. Stir until wax is melted.
  6. While it remains hot, pour the mixture into the sterilized containers.
  7. Let the mixture cool before covering and sealing the containers.


Clean the area affected. Apply the ointment on affected areas 3-4 times a day.

Nigeria finds cure for piles/haemorrhoids

By Peter Olorunnisomo

Researchers in Nigeria are reported to have identified about 143 local plants and vegetables useful for a curative treatment of haemorrhoids. These edible vegetation, some of which are readily identifiable for local soups, are recommended for consumption in a special diet slightly cooked for treatment.

Reports have it that the researchers are from the Department of Plant Science and Applied Zoology, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State.

The research results recently published in the Nigeria Scholars Research Library Annals of Biological Research show that the herbal recipes include green spinach, Amaranthus viridis (Amaranth, Tete in Yoruba, akwukwo nri in Ibo), Celosia spp (Lagos spinach, Soko in Yoruba), and waterleaf (Talinum triangulare). The use of Occimum gratissimum (scent leaf, Nchuanwu in Ibo, Effirin in Yoruba) as species in some soup is also very effective in the treatment of piles.

Others include Senna alata (Asunrun oyinbo in Yoruba, Ogalu in Ibo), Gongronena latifolium (Utazi in Ibo and Arokeke in Yoruba), Axonopus compressus (carpet grass), Anogeiessus leiocarpus (chew-stick, atara in Ibo, ayin in Yoruba and farin gamji in Hausa), Pteleopsis suberosa (wuyan giíwaá in Hausa), Tetrapleura tetraptera (Osakirisa or Oshosho in Ibo, Aidan in Yoruba), Khaya senegalensis (mahogany) and Allium spp (garlic, onion, shallots).

The study titled, “Ethnobotanical Survey of Plants Used in the Treatment of Haemorrhoids in South-Western Nigeria” was published by Mike O. Soladoye, Michael O. Adetayo, Emmanuel C. Chukwuma and Amusa N Adetunji.

Haemorrhoids, also called pile, are vascular structures in the anal canal which help with stool control. They become pathological or piles when swollen or inflamed.

They are caused by increased pressure in the veins of the rectum or anus resulting from straining when trying to have a bowel movement or any activity causing straining, such as heavy lifting. As pressure increases, blood pools in the veins, increases and this causes them to swell thus stretching the surrounding tissue.

Haemorrhoids can be inside and/or outside the anus and they are not dangerous. Internal haemorrhoids may be located near the beginning of the anal canal or close to the anal opening. When it protrudes outside the anal opening, they are referred to as prolapsed haemorrhoids.

It is estimated that about one quarter of all Africans have had haemorrhoids at age 50 and that 50 to 85 per cent of the world population, could be affected at some time in their life.

Pile affect both sexes but the impact on males appear to be more of concern because of its effect on their sexual performance. This disease appears to be genetically inherited as some children suffer this ailment. Humans are prone to haemorrhoids because the erect posture of man puts a lot of pressure on the veins in the anal region.

According to recent studies, overeating and presence of unassimilated bulk foods are also known to cause haemorrhoids as well as intoxicating liquors, artificial flavoring or spices, white bread, cakes, all other white flour products, fried foods, sugar and all mineral drinks.

Results from the study as released on the researchers from the Olabisi Onabanjo university state:

“In all, the commonest species in the recipes are Senna alata, Gongronena latifolium, Axonopus compressus, Anogeiessus leiocarpus, Pteleiopsis suberosa, Tetrapleura tetraptera, Khaya spp and Allium spp. All the plants identified in this work have been used severally by the herbalists and adjudged to be efficacious.”

The researchers noted during the interviews that if internal haemorrhoids is not treated, it could lead to external haemorrhoids. This disease can be treated with both fresh and dry herbs.

They wrote: “Scientific studies on these plants too would yield interesting results and help us in understanding the pharmacological actions of the active compounds found in these plants as suggested by Ramana.

“As clearly stated by Pei traditional medical knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses by indigenous cultures are not only useful for conservation of cultural traditions and biodiversity but also for community healthcare and drug development in the present and future.

“From the opinions of the 25 respondents that were interviewed, 52 per cent suggested that herbal tea is the most effective option in treating haemorrhoids, 16 per cent said herb powder (Yoruba -Agunmu), eight per cent confirmed rubbing concoction while 12 per cent confirmed that herbal paste/lotion are more effective. Only eight per cent suggested herbal juice and the remaining eight per cent herbal gins.

New herbal tea to treat malaria in Africa

(News Medical)

Malaria is a critical health problem in West Africa, where traditional medicine is commonly used alongside modern healthcare practices. An herbal remedy derived from the roots of a weed, which was traditionally used to alleviate malarial symptoms, was combined with leaves and aerial portions from two other plants with antimalarial activity, formulated as a tea, and eventually licensed and sold as an antimalarial phytomedicine. The fascinating story and challenges behind the development of this plant-based treatment are presented in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine website until May 14, 2015.

Dr. Merlin Willcox (University of Oxford, U.K.), Dr. Zéphirin Dakuyo (Phytofla, Banfora, Burkina Faso), and coauthors discuss the antimalarial and pharmacological properties of the herbal medication derived from Cochlospermum planchonii (a shrubby weed known as N'Dribala), Phyllanthus amarus, and Cassia alata. The authors provide a unique historical perspective in describing the early evaluation, development, and production of this phytomedicine. They present the ongoing research and challenges in scaling up cultivation and harvesting of the plants and in production of the final product. The article also describes other traditional uses of the medication, such as to treat hepatitis.

It’s not too early for gardeners to dream of autumn blooms

By R. Stephanie Bruno

It hasn’t escaped my notice that with the rains this week came lower temperatures, and lower temperatures mean fall is just around the corner, right? Ha! If only that were true.

Nonetheless, the cooler weather turned my thoughts to fall. I have begun daydreaming about (instead of dreading) my garden again.

I imagine my roses will burst into bloom and put on a dandy show. I expect my hydrangeas will no longer wilt piteously every day, and instead will look healthy again. What else, I wondered, might I look forward to in the garden?

The answer is cassias.

According to horticulturist Allen Owings, of the LSU AgCenter, these are some of the most prolific fall bloomers in our region and come in several varieties that can be worked into almost any garden design as long as you like their golden yellow blossoms.

Owings reported that cassias were recently reclassified as sennas, though he expects the common name for them won’t change.

The most stunning of the group may be Cassia splendida, which can be easily trained into a small 10- to 13-foot-tall tree in our region. Every fall, beginning in September and continuing well into November, the trees are covered with clusters of golden pea-like blossoms borne on arching.

The plants require little in the way of care, as long as they are in full to partial sun. Only the coldest of winter temperatures will harm them and, once established, they can tolerate drought conditions well.

The blossoms of Cassia corymbosa looks very much like those of C. splendida, but it develops as a low-growing shrub rather than a specimen that can be trained into a tree. Blossoms attract bees and cassias are host plants for butterflies, including cloudless sulphur and orange-barred sulphur butterflies.

Cassia alata, or candlestick plant, is another Gulf Coast favorite. On these shrubs, stiff spikes of golden flowers are held high above the foliage, and reach straight up toward the sky. This cassia can grow 6 to 10 feet tall and is therefore most often used in the back of a border.

The candlestick cassia (or candelabra plant) is also the least cold-hardy of the group. In some places across the globe, C. alata is cultivated for medicinal uses because of the fungicidal property of its ground-up leaves. A less flattering name for the plant is ringworm shrub.

When considering what plants to mix in with cassias, consider those with blooms in the blue, purple and white ranges. The purple blooms of Tibouchina (also known as Glory Flower) and the plant’s fuzzy leaves contrast handsomely with the blooms and leaves of cassias.

Another plant, Duranta or Golden Dewdrops, puts out clusters of blue, purple or white blossoms on the end of arching stems. Its flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Durantas are especially interesting because their blooms are followed by small yellow fruit that is adored by deer and songbirds.

A third plant that will bloom summer through fall and complements cassias well is plumbago. Like Duranta, its blooms come in shades of blue or even white, making a great companion for whichever cassia appears in the garden.

How to Care for a Candle Bush Plant

By Amma Marfo (Demand Media)

The Candle Bush plant, also called the Candlestick plant or Senna alata, is a tropical perennial capable of reaching twelve feet high. The plants feature lush growth and yellow flowers resembling candles that bloom from late summer to fall. The Candle Bush plant is drought-tolerant and weather-tough, making it a suitable plant for inexperienced and expert gardeners alike. With origins in the tropical Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia, the Candle Bush is an annual in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 7 to 9, but grows as a perennial in Zones 10 and higher.

1 Select a full-sun location for the Candle Bush plant where the soil is well-draining. Partial shade is tolerable, but not ideal. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost for annual growth and transplant once the plant reaches ten to twelve inches tall. Alternatively, purchase potted seedlings from a local nursery.

2 Water the plant weekly when rainfall isn’t sufficient, to supply at least a half-inch of water and keep the soil moist. If grown as a perennial, the mature Candle Bush plant will become more drought resistant as it becomes established.

3 Weed the area around your Candle Bush plant regularly to decrease water competition. Apply one to two inches of mulch to the area, if desired, to cut down on weeds and retain water.

4 Feed your plant once a month with a half-strength solution of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, to encourage it to reach its full height and produce lush blooms. As you apply fertilizer, remember to feed based on the current height of the plant, not the expected height.

5 Propagate by collecting seeds from the plant after flowering, once the pods have turned brown and dried. Let some seeds fall to the ground for annual growing if you want the plant to attempt to self-sow.

6 Allow Candle Bush plants grown as annuals to die back shortly after the first frost and clear away dead growth. Prune perennial plants after blooming or seed collection, trimming each branch back to half its length. Make each cut just after a bud or branch at a 45 degree angle.

Things You Will Need
• Mulch
• Fertilizer
• Hand pruners
• Candle Bush plants grow well with banana plants and hibiscus for a tropical display.
• Remove any volunteer “suckers” or self-sown seeds from around the base of your perennial plant each spring to prevent overcrowding.

Pesticides are not recommended for Candle Bush plants because they are known to attract butterflies and bees. A flush of hungry caterpillars around the plants will soon be decreased by birds.

Atis, Akapulko and Kapal-kapal, plants with potential anti-cancer compounds

(Philippines Council For Health Reasearch and Development)

“In the management of cancer, there is chemotherapy which uses natural products or drugs that kill cancer cells. And in our study, we are trying to discover possible chemotherapeutic properties derived from plant sources,” said Dr. Sonia D. Jacinto, Anticancer Natural Products Professor of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD).

The research conducted by the group of Dr. Jacinto entitled “Philippine Plants Showing Cytotoxic Activity to Selected Human Cancer Cell Lines” aims to isolate the compounds that are responsible for the cancer-killing action of the plant extracts to enable development of anti-cancer drugs.

“We grow a lot of cancer cells and place the plant extracts in it to observe if the cancer cells can grow. If they grow, then the study is unsuccessful. If it dies, it is a good sign that we can proceed to the next stage,” explained Dr. Jacinto.

Among the interesting findings obtained from their study was from the plant Annona Squamosa, more commonly known as “Atis.” According to Dr. Jacinto, Annona Squamosa is a close relative of Annona Muricata or “Guyabano” which is rich in Murihexocin C, compound active as anti-cancer agent.

Another plant which showed potential was Akapulko (Cassia Alata). Akapulko is a herbal medicine that is known to have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Dr. Jacinto’s group discovered that Akapulko also has cytotoxic activity against some cancer cell lines.

“We have isolated a mixture of polyunsaturated fatty acid esters. The isolate may have potential for development as cancer chemotherapeutic agents,” said Dr. Jacinto.

Dr. Jacinto’s group also discovered cytotoxicity or cell-killing properties from Calotropis Gigantea or “Kapal-kapal.” Results showed that the compounds were extremely toxic to the human cancer cell lines such as colon carcinoma, lung non-small cell adenocarcinoma and liver hepatocarcinoma.

Kapal-kapal is cultivated as an ornamental and medicinal plant in the Philippines. Based on Dr. Jacinto’s research, the leaves of the plant can be applied as a dry fomentation for abdominal pains. Ethanolic extract of Kapal-kapal roots has also shown significant inhibitory effects against chronic myelogenous leukemia and human gastric cancer cell lines.

According to Dr. Jacinto, there are still other plant species that can be studied further for their cancer-killing properties. Dr. Jacinto encouraged young researchers to conduct researches on medicinal plants to contribute in the treatment of cancer.

“This is the line of work that we do. You can perhaps do something like this. You can use this as a jump start of your researches,” said. Dr. Jacinto.

Now, herbal tea that fights malaria


Washington: A new study has revealed about the journey of the antimalarial tea from herbal remedy to licensed phytomedicine.

The herbal remedy derived from the roots of a weed, which was traditionally used to alleviate malarial symptoms, was combined with leaves and aerial portions from two other plants with antimalarial activity, formulated as a tea, and eventually licensed and sold as an antimalarial phytomedicine.

The authors have presented the fascinating story and challenges behind the development of this plant-based treatment.

Merlin Willcox (University of Oxford, U.K.), Zephirin Dakuyo (Phytofla, Banfora, Burkina Faso) and coauthors discuss the antimalarial and pharmacological properties of the herbal medication derived from Cochlospermum planchonii (a shrubby weed known as N'Dribala), Phyllanthus amarus, and Cassia alata.

The authors provide a unique historical perspective in describing the early evaluation, development, and production of this phytomedicine.

They present the ongoing research and challenges in scaling up cultivation and harvesting of the plants and in production of the final product.

The article also describes other traditional uses of the medication, such as to treat hepatitis.

The study appears in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Drugs for diabetes: Scientists test the power of plants

(Public Relations, University of Greenwich)

New drugs to treat diabetes are being developed by scientists at the University of Greenwich.

A group of researchers from the university’s School of Science, led by Dr Solomon Habtemariam, believe they have identified potential sources of medicines derived from plants which may have fewer adverse side-effects for diabetes sufferers.

The scientists are investigating the properties of two plants found in south-east Asia which they think could have properties that are not only anti-diabetic, but also lipid- or fat-lowering, and so can help tackle obesity.

Dr Habtemariam, a leading expert on drug discovery research from natural sources, says the work could prove a crucial breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes, which he describes a “growing global epidemic”.

“Diabetes is a huge burden to society in general. The search for treatments is making the NHS bankrupt, and this problem is likely to get worse in the next decade. There is no known drug of cure and so, all in all, it’s a huge incentive for us to carry out research in this field,” he says.

The disease, a result of chronically high levels of glucose in the blood, affects more than 300 million people in the world. It is split into two main classes: type I and type 2. The former normally affects children, while type 2, the most common type, is often diagnosed later in life and in some cases can be managed by diet, exercise and weight loss.

The researchers at Greenwich aim to isolate and identify certain extracts from the plants Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata, which could have ‘active ingredients’ for treating diabetes. They discovered that one of the compounds isolated from the plant, kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside, has proved to be more than eight times more potent than the standard anti-diabetic drug, acarbose.

The team also found the plants have anti-oxidant properties, which is beneficial when treating diabetes.

“Our other most interesting finding is that many of the active ingredients from the Cassia auriculata plant work through a process called ‘synergism’ – in other words, they work together to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects,” Dr Habtemariam says. “Overall, this suggests that the crude plant extract has lots of potential to be used clinically for treating diabetes and associated diseases.”

The research is ongoing and requires further study and validation, but Dr Habtemariam says the university’s School of Science is an ideal place to be conducting his work. “We have both the facilities and the expertise to carry out this research: to isolate chemicals of biological interest, and then to identify what they are. We are only at the drug discovery stage but moving to the clinical trial stage is a very definite goal.” Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata grow in a tropical climate. They are popular both as ornamental plants and for their medicinal uses.

Last year Dr Habtemariam led an international research project which revealed the potential of tansy, a flowering plant found in Europe and Asia, as a treatment for the sexually transmitted disease herpes.

The School of Science runs a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, offering world-class professors, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and excellent links to industry.

To find out more: www.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/science, email [email protected] or call 020 8331 9000.

Plant extract could treat diabetes and obesity!

(The Health Site Admin)

British researchers believe that two plants from South East Asia may have anti-diabetic properties and could help tackle obesity as well.

A team of researchers at the University of Greenwich plans to investigate Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata whose extracts could yield active ingredients for a remedy to diabetes which exists in two forms – Type 1 and Type 2. The former normally affects children, while type 2, which is most common in adults, (often diagnosed later in life) can be managed by diet, exercise and weight loss to some extent.

A team of researchers at the University of Greenwich plans to investigate Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata whose extracts could yield active ingredients for a remedy to diabetes which exists in two forms – Type 1 and Type 2. The former normally affects children, while type 2, which is most common in adults, (often diagnosed later in life) can be managed by diet, exercise and weight loss to some extent.

Local herbs for fungal infections identified


Nigerian researchers have identified local herbs that could be effectively used to treat fungal infections including thrush (Candida albicans), dermatitis, eczema and scabies. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes. Nigerian researchers have demonstrated how extracts of local plants could be effectively used to treat fungal and skin infections including thrush (Candida albicans), dermatitis, eczema and scabies.

Nigerian doctors have also identified local herb, which clears oral thrush faster and better than conventional drug.

Thrush is becoming one of the commonest infant diseases in the country, not sparing adults with compromised immunity due to certain diseases. It comes with white patches on the tongue and general skin diseases in infants (called nla in Yoruba and obu in Ibo) and in adults with white patches in genital areas. Thrush or candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, is on the prowl.

But a local herb has been demonstrated by medical doctors to be more efficacious than a conventional antifungal drug, Nystatin, in the treatment of thrush. It has been shown that pathogenic fungi such as Candida albicans cause both superficial and serious systemic infections and are now widely recognized as important agents of hospital-acquired infection.

A very recent study has identified herbal combination of extracts of Mitracarpus scaber, Ocimum gratissimum, Senna alata and Jatropha multifida as novel treatment for fungal diseases including thrush. Mitracarpus scaber belongs to the plant family Rubiaceae.

Mitracarpus scaber is a perennial annual herb of about 30 centimetres tall or much smaller and possess rough leaves. In Nigeria, it is known as Ogwungwo or Obuobwa in Igbo language, Gududal in Hausa language and Irawo lle in Yoruba language. The leaf extracts of Mitracarpus scaber is widely used in traditional medicine practices in West Africa for the treatment of headaches, toothaches, amenorrhoea, dyspepsia, hepatic diseases, venereal diseases as well as leprosy.

It is claimed that the plant has both antibacterial and antifungal activities. In Senegal, the plant is used for the treatment of sore throat and also for leprosy in the same way as Cola cordifolia and in Nigeria, the juice from the crushed plant is known to be applied topically for the treatment of skin diseases such as ringworm, lice, itching, craw – craw and other fungi diseases or applied to dressings for fresh cuts, wounds and ulcers. It is also used as an ingredient in fish poison by some pagan tribes. Ocimum gratissimum is a shrub belonging to the family Lamiaceae. It is commonly known as Scent leaf or Clove basil and is found in many tropical countries. Africa and Asia are however, the two continents where most variants of the plant exist. O. gratissimum is found in the tropical and warm temperature regions such as India and Nigeria. It is called Nchu-anwu in Igbo, Efinrin in Yoruba, Aramogbo in Edo and Daidoya in Hausa. O. gratissimum has been described to have other species in the flora of tropical West Africa.

These include: Ocimum viride, Ocimum suave, Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum canum. Commonly called French physic nut; Spanish physic nut; coral plant, Jatropha multifida belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is called ebosa in Edo; olulu idu in Ibo; botuje, botuje-pupa, lapalapa, or lobotuje in Yoruba.

Commonly called bush candle, Cassia alata/Senna alata, which belongs to the plant family Fabaceae is an ornamental shrub. Senna alata also known as Cassia alata is a shrub from the leguminosae family.

It is called Asunrun Oyinbo in Yoruba and Ogalu in Ibo. It is locally used in Nigeria in the treatment of several infections, which include ringworm, parasitic skin disease. Senna alata is also credited for treatment of haemorrhoids, constipation, inguinal hernia, intestinal parasite, blennorrhagia, syphilis and diabetics.

The leaf of this plant was reported to be useful in treating convulsion, onolthoea, heart failure, abnormal pain, oedema as and as purgative but it was especially useful in treating dermatophytosis. Meanwhile, one of the studies titled “Efficacy of Two Commonly Used Antifungal Herbs in Nigeria Against Clinical Isolates of Fungi’ was published in Microbiology Journal and Science Alert.

The researchers include: Anejionu Miriam Goodness, Nweze Emeka Innocent, Dibua Esther Uju and Esimone Charles Okechukwu. The researchers concluded: “This present study has therefore demonstrated that the ethanolic extracts of Mitracarpus scaber and Ocimum gratissimum oil have antifungal activity against moulds and Candida albicans.

These findings justify their local use in Nigeria and other countries. Generally, the activity of O. gratissimum oil was better than M. scaber extract and the tested antifungal drugs as shown by the in vitro susceptibility test data of the fungal isolates to the antifungal herbal extracts. “The killing rate study indicated also that the oil has very good activity against the isolates.

The killing kinetics showed that the extracts started killing the tested isolates completely from two hour and upwards. However, further studies involving animal studies are warranted to confirm, among other things, the safety profile of these extracts.” The researchers wrote: “Mitracarpus scaber and Ocimum gratissimum are used extensively in Nigerian herbal medicinal practice to treat many ailments especially those caused by fungi.

In the current study, the antifungal activities of these two herbs against fungal isolates (moulds and yeast) recovered from subjects in the community were evaluated. Twenty species of moulds tested were isolated from three clinical samples including skin scrapping (n = 13), scalp (n = 4) and skin/scalp (n = 3) while 18 clinical isolates of Candida albicans were isolated from seven clinical samples including high vaginal swab (n = 8), sputum (n = 4), urine (n = 1), endo-cervical swab (n = 2), groin (n = 1), mouth thrush (n = 1) and palm (n = 1).

Studies on the in vitro antifungal activity of the ethanol extract of Mitracarpus scaber (50 μg mL-1) and Ocimum gratissimum oil (50 μg mL-1) showed that the clinical isolates were sensitive to the herbal extracts but more sensitive to O. gratissimum oil extract with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) range of 0.8-1.25 μg mL-1 than to ketoconazole- an antifungal medication that fights infections caused by fungus- (MIC range of 0.31 to 5.00 μg mL-1).

The MIC ranges for sodium salicylate and aspirin were 0.75 to 1.60 and 7.81 to 31.25 μg mL-1, respectively. The microbial fuel cell (MFC) results revealed that the O. gratissimum oil had greater biocidal effect against most of the tested organisms (MFC range of 0.156 to 2.5 μg mL-1), whereas the effect of ketoconazole against the tested organisms was biostatic (MFC range of 1.25 to 5.00 μg mL-1).“Biocidal studies showed that the oil started to eliminate the organisms earlier than the ketoconazole.

The study has confirmed the in vitro activity of these two extracts on the fungal isolates tested.” Earlier studies by Nigerian doctors had confirmed the efficacy of the juice extracts of a local plant, Jatropha multifada, in the management of oral candidiasis.

The paediatricians in a preliminary study published in The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine concluded: “Compared to oral Nystatin suspension, it has the advantages of acting faster and being efficacious as a single dose. Its use in the management of oral candidiasis is recommended in third world countries where it is easily cultivated and accessible.”

The researchers include: Dr. Aladekomo Theophilus Adesola, lecturer/ consultant paediatrician at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State; and Dr. Oyedeji Olusola Adetunji, lecturer/ consultant paediatrician at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital (LAUTTH), Osun State.

The study is titled “The Efficacy of Jatropha multifida in the Management of Oral Candidiasis: A Preliminary Study. ” Previous studies conducted in Tanzania had shown that Jatropha multifida has significant anti-fugal activity, against many species of Candida, but very little against Candida albicans.

However, the Nigerian study showed that the specie of Jatropha multifida cultivated in Nigeria, possess antibiotic activity against Candida albicans, and faster and more efficacious than Nysatin (a conventional drug) in the management of thrush. According to the Nigerian study, all the clinically detected cases of children with oral candidiasis at the children ’s outpatient department of the Osun State Hospital, Osogbo and children ’s welfare clinic of the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa were randomized into either Jatropha multifida Juice extract therapy or the Nystatin group.

The juice extracts from the Jatropha multifida leaves were applied to the tongue and the oral mucosal areas affected by candida lesions as a single application in the patients randomized to this group. Oral Nystatin was administered four times a day, for seven consecutive days to the children randomized to the Nystatin group.

The researchers studied a total of five patients (three boys and two girls) were studied with their ages ranging from two to 10 months. Clearance of the white lesions on the tongue was defined as cure and this was recorded within 24 hours in the patients on Jatropha multifida juice extracts, while those on oral Nystatin showed features of cure at 48 hours.

The researchers wrote: “…The present study has shown that Jatropha multifida leaf juice extract is effective in the management of thrush and works faster compared to Nystatin. Its mechanism of action is however unknown, as well as the active ingredient responsible for the antifungal action.

The drug however appears relatively safe because of the absence of complications in the present study. No side effects were also reported to Nystatin therapy in the present study. However, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the known side effects that might arise from Nystatin therapy. The small sample size in the present study might have hindered us from encountering these complications.“The Jatropha multifida fruit has been documented to contain toxins such astoxabulmin ricin.

Ingestion of large quantities of this fruit has been documented to cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, shock and hepatic impairment in children. Ricin also has cardiotoxic and hemolytic effects and several deaths have been reported from it. On the converse the roots, stems and leaves of the Jatrophamultifida plant possess useful ingredients and activities.

The fruits are widely used in traditional folk medicine in many parts of West Africa.

Other chemotherapeutic properties of this plant are used in the treatment of ascites, gout and constipation. “In conclusion, Jatropha multifida is a plant whose juice provides a cure for oral candidiasis.

It acts faster compared to Nystatin and compliance on the part of patients is likely to be better since it is a single dose application.

It is recommended for use in communities where it is easily accessible. However, further studies need to be carried out on this plant in order determine the ingredient in it, having the anti-fungal activities. This can be selectively extracted and made into oral preparations for general and commercial use.”

Another study published in the Journal of Microbiology Research concluded: “The study showed that the extracts from the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum had pronounced antifungal activities on all the fungi tested.

The preliminary screenings of O. gratissimum results are quite promising and have strongly indicated the antifungal activity spectra of leaves extract of the plant.

As the findings of study compared favourably with previous studies on the antimicrobial activity of Ocimum gratissimum against fungal infections, the plant holds great promise for use as both an antibacterial and antifungal agent.

Further studies should be carried out to unravel the identity of the active ingredients as well as its medicinal properties. Other methods of extraction should be tried to determine the best method for optimal yield of the medicinal ingredients. In-vivo testing using laboratory animals should also be carried out.”

The study is titled “Effects of Ocimum Gratissimum Leaves on Common Dermatophytes and Causative Agent of Pityriasis Versicolor in Rivers State, Nigeria.” The researchers include: Mbakwem – Aniebo C., Onianwa O., and Okonko I.O. of the Department of Microbiology, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The antifungal activity of Ocimum gratissimum used by traditional medicine practitioners against the three major Dermatophytes – Trichophyton, Microsporum, Epidermophyton together with Malassezia furfur (the cause of Pityriasis versicolor (Eczema)), were studied by well-in-agar diffusion technique using different concentrations of ethanolic extracts.

Isolates from the scalp, skin, toes and feet of forty individuals (mainly children) were obtained in four locations namely Aluu, Choba, Rumuosi and Emohua areas of Rivers State, Nigeria. The results of the study revealed the significant inhibitory effect of Ocimum gratissimum at five different concentrations of 250mg/ml, 200mg/ml, 150mg/ml, 100mg/ml and 50mg/ml used.

The diameter zones of inhibition exhibited by the extracts against the test fungal species ranged between 12.50 and 20mm. The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of the ethanol extract of O. gratissimum was 50.01, 52.40, 63.06 and 63.09 mg/ml for Malassezia furfur, Microsporum, Trichophyton and Epidermophyton, respectively.

Assessment of the various MICs showed that Ocimum gratissimum has great potential for use as an anti-dermatophytic agent. The study showed that the extracts from the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum had pronounced antifungal activities on all the fungi tested. The study has shown that the leaves extracts of O. gratissimum are quite promising and have strongly indicated the antifungal activity spectra of leaves extract of the plant.

In conclusion, the results from this study indicated potentials of leaves extract of Ocimum gratissimum as a source of antifungal compounds. Another study published in the Research Journal of Biological Sciences concluded: “In this study, the extracts of Senna alata leaf crude extract have high potential as antimicrobial agent.

It showed varying degrees of activities against all the tested dermatophytes with better antifungal activity against Microsporum canis, Trichophyton verrucosum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Epidermophyton jloccosum.

The phytochemical analysis revealed the presence of important secondary metabolite (alkaloids, saponins, tannins, steroid and anthraquinones), thus indicating the therapeutic potentials of Senna alata L. leaf.” “It showed the presence of bioactive compounds as well as the antifungal properties of ethanolic crude extract. However, this finding provides an insight into the usage of this plant in traditional treatment of foot infections, subcutaneous parasitic infection, intestinal parasitism, venereal diseases and other diseases associated with bacterial and fungal infections.”

The study titled “In vitro Antifungal Activity of Senna alata Linn. Crude Leaf Extract” was conducted by: W.F. Sule, I.O. Okonko, T.A. Joseph, M.O. Ojezele, J.C. Nwanze, J.A. Alli, O.G. Adewale and O.J. Ojezele. This study reports on the in vitro antifungal activity of Senna alata crude leaf extract on clinical test dermatophytes. The studies on the in vitro investigation of antifungal activities of ethanolic extracts of Senna alata leaf were carried out.

The test was conducted on dermatophytes, which included dermatophytes of the genera Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. These fungi are the causative agents of various types of dermatophytosis, which attack various parts of the body and tend to the following conditions, Tinea capitis, Tinea cruris, Tinea coporis and Tinea pedis.

The results obtained showed that the leaf exudates and the ethanol extract of the leaf of Senna alata: had marked antifungal effects on Microsporum canis, Trichophyton jirrucosum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Epidermophyton jlorrcosum. The ethanolic extract showed the highest inhibition on Trinchophyton verrucosuf and Epidermophyton jloccosum with 20.50 and 20.00 mm zone of inhibition, respectively. The MIC was also performed and the result showed that the MIC of Senna alata on all the tested dermatophytes was 5.0 mg mL-1, which is the standard.

The results obtain from the biochemical analysis of the plant Senna alata revealed the presence of alkaloids, saponins, tannins, anthracionones and carbohydrates.

A similar study in Malaysia by Ibrahim and Osman (1995) reported that ethanolic extracts of Senna alata plant show high antifungal activity against dermatophytic fungal such as Trichophyton mentagrophyte var. interaligitale and var. Metagrophytes, Trichophyton rubrum and Microsporum gypseum.

Several studies have documented the basis of the leaf of Senna alata in herbal medicine. Adebayo et al. (1999) documented that MIC of the plant extract was low on all fungal agents except Aspergillus niger.

Health Benefits of Acapulco (Ringworm Bush)

(Health Digezt)

The acapulco is said to be native to Mexico, but these days it can be easily found in so many tropical regions of the planet. Also known as ringworm bush, it is primarily employed for the treatment of ringworm and other sorts of skin diseases caused by fungi. In some parts of the planet, it is referred to as the candlestick bush because the flowers closely resemble yellow candlesticks when they’re already mature. Various parts of the plant can be utilized for treatment and healing.

Because of its chrysophanic acid or chrysophanol content, the acapulco is very good are dealing with an assortment of skin conditions. Due to the presence of the said chemical, the acapulco is commonly added to products such as soaps, lotions and even shampoos that are formulated for killing off fungi and other microorganisms that wreak havoc on the skin.

The well-known herbal plant contains saponins which make it effective in eliminating intestinal parasites. Tannins present in the various parts of the acapulco make it posses superb antimicrobial properties. In many parts of the planet, traditional healers rely on the acapulco in treating fever, stomach problems, asthma, bronchitis, cough and even veneral diseases.

Let us take a look at some of the many health benefits that the acapulco is known to offer:

It Treats Ringworm and Other Skin Diseases

Just like what’s mentioned earlier, the acapulco is highly popular as a treatment for ringworm. Its antifungal properties may be harnessed by pounding on the leaves and applying the juice directly on problem areas. Because of its amazing antimicrobial properties, the acapulco may also be used in treating other skin diseases such as scabies and eczema.

The Herb May be Used for Wound Disinfection

Boiling the flowers and leaves of the acapulco in water for about 10 to 15 minutes results in something that may be used for disinfecting wounds to keep infections at bay. In some parts of the planet, the resulting decoction is used for treating snake bites. Some traditional healers also use it for dealing with an assortment of venereal diseases.

Drinking It Helps Deal with Respiratory Problems

For many years now, the intake of tea out of the flowers and leaves of the acapulco is being recommended to individuals with upper respiratory tract problems such as bronchitis and asthma. The intake of the said tea is also ideal for those with cough as it is an expectorant, which means it promotes the elimination of excess mucus in the airway.

Gargling with It Promotes Good Oral Health

Tea out of the acapulco plant that is allowed to cool may be used as mouth rinse for treating stomatitis, which is the inflammation of the mouth’s inner lining. It is also something good for eliminating bad breath and sore throat. Chewing on some acapulco leaves is said to be very good at dealing with oral sores and toothache.

The Acapulco May be Used to Treat Constipation

Consuming tea out of the acapulco plant may be done if you are having a bout of constipation. That’s because the herb is actually a form of laxative, an agent that stimulates the movement of the bowels. Of course you should include more fiber-rich foods in the diet, drink plenty of water and be physically active to keep constipation at bay.

It is Very Good at Driving Away Intestinal Parasites

Worms can nest in the gut and this can cause a variety of health problems. There are many herbal remedies for getting rid of intestinal parasites, and one of them is the intake of a decoction out of the flowers and leaves of the acapulco plant. The same decoction is usually recommended by traditional healers for a variety of issues concerning the digestive tract.

Cassia alata Linn : A magical psoriasis healer

(wlorganics admin)

Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory disease, quite often leads to mental depression and make the patients to stay away from socializing and other normal activities. Psoriasis begins as a small scaling papule. When multiple papules coalesce, they form scaling plaques. These plaques tend to occur in the scalp, elbows, and knees. It is also mentioned as a non-curable disease in the medical dictionary. However, the great news here is, it can be controlled with proper treatment. Modern technologies involve various treatment protocols including narrow band UVB treatment, synthetic drugs, biologics and other topical applications. Eventually, this will also lead to some side effects like skin cancer and it is expensive as well, based on the intensity and treatment of choice. Percentage differs, but it is. Traditional medical practice with medicinal herbs is booming as one of the best possible solution for the aforesaid complications. Recently, medicinal plants are gaining significant attention among the affected population across the globe.

Cassia alata, known as ringworm shrub, winged Senna, candle tree or ringworm Cassia, owing to its traditional use of the juice from fresh leaves or as leaf decoction against ringworm, psoriasis, pruritis, itching, scabies, ulcers and others skin diseases. Cassia alata leaf has immense activity in controlling psoriasis. Indeed, this medicinal herb restores the happiness and peace of mind in the affected individual. When, remedy is the only thing of need, Cassia alata helps you out to jump off from the depression created by psoriasis. Try it and nurture it to create a peaceful life for psoriasis patients.

Asian plants may offer remedy for diabetes


London: Two plants from South East Asia may have anti-diabetic properties and could help tackle obesity as well, believe British researchers.

A team of researchers at the University of Greenwich plans to investigate Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata whose extracts could yield active ingredients for a remedy to diabetes which exists in two forms - Type 1 and Type 2.

The former normally affects children, while type 2, which is most common in adults, (often diagnosed later in life) can be managed by diet, exercise and weight loss to some extent.

The group had previously hit upon a constituent called kaempferol 3-O-rutinosidehe from the extracts of one of the plants which was proven to be eight times more potent than the standard anti-diabetic drug acarbose.

The researchers have also identified anti-oxidant properties of the plants which aids in diabetes treatment.

"Our other most interesting finding is that many of the active ingredients from the Cassia auriculata plant work through a process called `synergism` -- in other words, they work together to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects," says Dr Solomon Habtemariam of the research team.

Herbal tea treats malaria in Africa


EW YORK: Researchers have formulated an anti-malarial tea out of an herbal remedy traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of the disease in Africa.

Derived from the roots of a weed, the herbal remedy was combined with leaves and aerial portions from two other plants with antimalarial activity, and eventually licensed and sold as an antimalarial phytomedicine.

Zephirin Dakuyo, first posted as a pharmacist in Banfora Hospital in Burkina Faso, realised that malaria-infected people in the country preferred to treat themselves with herbal medicines, in particular the roots of N'Dribala (Cochlospermum planchonii) .

However, they did not have time to collect this medicinal plant themselves, so Dakuyo, with support from the hospital staff, started to harvest and package it for the patients.

Eventually, the medicine was sold at the hospital to patients with malaria and was also provided to community health workers to supply to patients.

The medication has other uses too such as in treating hepatitis, the study said.

In the new study, detailed in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the authors have discussed the antimalarial and pharmacological properties of the herbal medication derived from Cochlospermum planchonii, Phyllanthus amarus, and Cassia alata.

Diabetes Drugs From These 2 Tropical Plants Could Be Breakthrough

By Deborah Mitchell G

In the search for new effective drugs to treat diabetes, scientists have been turning to the plant world. Recently, investigators from the University of Greenwich have discovered two plants with properties that could be a breakthrough in the area of new diabetes drugs. Help for diabetes could come from tropical plants

Tropical and subtropical climates are home to two plants from the same genus that appears to possess anti-diabetes benefits, such as an ability to lower fat and lipids and help with weight reduction. Those two plants are Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata.

One of the special ingredients in these plants is kaempferol, a known flavonoid that has been associated with anticancer, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiallergic benefits, among others. Kaempferol is found in many different foods, including but not limited to broccoli, tea, tomatoes, strawberries, grapefruit, cabbage, apples, and beans.

The tropical plants also contain compounds with antioxidant abilities. Antioxidants are important when treating and managing diabetes to help prevent cell damage and complications associated with the disease.

According to the authors of the new study, the kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside they extracted from the tropical plants was eight times more potent than acarbose, a standard antidiabetes drug. Acarbose is an oral medication available in the United States under the trade name Precose.

Dr. Habtemariam, one of the study's co-authors and an expert on researching new drugs from plants, also noted that many of the substances in the Cassia auriculata plant “work together to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” This is an important discovery, according to Habtemariam, because it indicates that the crude plant extract could be used to treat diabetes and other associated disorders.

More about the tropical plants

Cassia auriculata (or Senna auriculata) is a shrub that grows mainly in India and Sri Lanka. It is also known as avaram and tanner’s cassia, and it has bright yellow flowers that are used as a medicinal tea for diabetes. Traditional herbalists also use the roots, bark, leaves, and seeds for fever, diabetes, constipation, conjunctivitis, gout, and diseases of the urinary tract.

Cassia alata (or Senna alata), also known as the candle bush or the candelabra bush, is native to Mexico and the tropics. It is valued both for its antifungal properties and as an ornamental plant because of its striking flowers, which look like candles.

Habtemariam and his team are continuing their research of Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata and moving toward the clinical trial phase. He notes that their efforts with these tropical plants could be part of an important breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.

Revisiting the Ashitaba and other anticancer herbs

By Rafael Castillo (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A patient whom I’ve not seen for a good number of years came back looking great, with no recurrence of shortness of breath and easy fatigability that she came to our clinic for.

She was also previously diagnosed to have early (stage 1) breast cancer, for which she underwent surgery, but refused any anticancer chemotherapy after the surgery.

Laboratory examinations and referral to her previous oncologist (cancer specialist) were done and she passed all tests and consultations with flying colors.

She said she just continued all the medications we prescribed her, but she also attributed her wellbeing to an herb she regularly took—the Ashitaba plant.

We reminded her that it’s not a good practice to just continue taking one’s medicines without periodic checkup, because frequently, the doses may have to be adjusted, or some medicines may have to be discontinued or replaced.

As for the Ashitaba, I admitted to her my knowledge gap on the subject and that I could not really make an expert recommendation whether it’s good, has no effect, or might even be harmful.

My research assistant at the office quickly browsed the scientific literatures on this plant. She came back to me with no clinical data, but she brought back experimental or laboratory researches showing that it might address various common ailments including infections, ulcers and cancers.

Potent antioxidant

It has a scientific name—Angelica keiskei—and the herb grows primarily in Japan, but it can also be grown here. Its root, leaf and stem are used to extract potent antioxidants and other medicinal chemicals.

The fresh leaves can be eaten, and be mixed with other vegetables or fruit salads.

Among the available published researches on Ashitabla is a study by Ogawa H., Nakashima S. and Baba K. showing the effects of Ashitaba on cholesterol metabolism in a stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive group of subjects. However, the research group subjected to the herb was not humans, but rats. Another Japanese group validated the study, also in rats.

Another Japanese group—researchers Tabata K., Motani K., Takayanagi N., et al.—also showed beneficial effects of an active ingredient of Ashitaba, xanthoangelol, in certain types of tumors (neuroblastoma) and also in leukemia cells.

Inamori Y. et al. showed beneficial effects of the herb as an antibacterial agent. Two ingredients called chalcones—xanthoangelol and 4-hydroxyderricin—were attributed as the source of this beneficial effect in infections.

A study by a Korean group (Kang M.H. et al.) in smokers showed a protective effect against the harmful effects of nicotine on peripheral lymphocytes and other cellular structures which can damage the cell’s DNA. When the DNA is damaged, it can create havoc in the tissues which may lead to cancer.


So, by what we can gather, there seems to be basic or experimental evidence showing that the herb have some beneficial effects, but again we can’t say for sure if these would translate to actual clinical benefits in humans.

Locally, our scientists are also evaluating the anticancer effect of several indigenous plants, fruits and herbs.

Dr. Sonia Jacinto, an anticancer natural products professor from the University of the Philippines Diliman, has conducted several researches, and one of these is the study titled “Philippine Plants Showing Cytotoxic Activity to Selected Human Cancer Cell lines,” which aimed to identify and isolate compounds responsible for the cancer-killing action of the plant extracts.

Dr. Jacinto and her team of researchers cultured cancer cells in the laboratory and treated them with the plant extracts to find out the latter’s impact on cancer cell growth. The rationale was that if the cancer cells grew, then the study is unsuccessful. If the cancer cells died, it is a good indication to proceed to the next stage.

Promising findings

According to Dr. Jacinto’s researches, there are already promising findings from the plant Annona squamosa, commonly known as the atis. The doctor added that Annona squamosa is a close relative of Annona muricata, or the guyabano, which is known to be rich in Murihexocin C, an anticancer agent.

Aside from atis and guyabano, akapulko, or the Cassia alata, a herbal medicine with antimicrobial properties, also showed anticancer potential. Dr. Jacinto’s research group tested akapulko’s cancer-killing properties against several cancer cell lines, and found it favorable and promising.

In identifying the active compound responsible for the anticancer effects, the research team has isolated a mixture of polyunsaturated fatty acid esters—which may be the key substrate which pharmaceutical companies can try to develop into cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Researches on these herbs with anticancer properties should proceed to the clinical phase, with them being tried on actual cancer patients, in addition to (not as a replacement of) standard anticancer treatments. If they could be shown to have additional benefits to the patient, then this should be a most welcome development.