Sunday, June 13, 2010

Use of Acanthus ilicifolius

Acanthus ilicifolius L. (Acanthaceae)

Synonym : Acanthus doloarius Blanco, Dilivaria iIicifolia Nees

Sanskrit name: Harikasa.

Vernacular names: Bengali: Hargoza, Harkachkanta; Kannad : Holeculli; Malyalam: Payinaculli; Marathi: Maranda, Maraneli; Oria : Harkamcli; Tamil: Kalutai mulli; Telgu: Alei.

Trade name: Harkasa.

Traditional use:

Root (boiled in mustard oil): in paralysis of limbs;
Leaf: as fomentation in rheumatism and neuralgia.

Phytography :
These mangrove plants have leaves which look like the spiny holly leaves. In fact, not all the leaves have the spiny edges that give them their common name. Leaves growing the deep shade can be totally spineless. Unlike some mangrove plants, Sea Holly do not exclude salt at the root level. In fact, their sap is salty and excess salt is secreted through the leaves, to be removed by rain or wind. Sometimes, the salt can be seen as a white crystalline layer on the upper surface.
It is an  Erect herb whose stems are up to 1.5 m which grow  in clumps, little divided and are glabrous.Leaves are  shortly petioled and are  oblong or elliptical whose base is usually spinous, toothed or pinnatifid and are rigid, glabrous.The  spikes are 10-40 cm, and are terminal, commonly solitary. Flowers of the plant are mostly opposite, bract and bracteoles presentwhich has 4 sepals , outer 2 are elliptic rounded, inner 2  are broadly lanceolate, subacute.The petalsare 5 in number, blue cloloured, united, 2-lipped, corolla tube short and pubescent from  within which contains 4 stamens , didynamous, shorter than coroll_ lip, filaments stout, anthers 1-lobed, bearded, carpels 2, united, ovary 2-chambered having 2 ovules in chamber, style short, bifid; capsules shining chestnut-brown, ellipsoid, compressed, 0.6-0.8 cm long; testa white, very lax.

 Flowering and Fruiting ocurrs  almost throughout the year.

It is generally found in  Mangroves of Indian peninsula, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the adjoining areas.

Ecology and cultivation:
Commonly grown on the river banks or tidal canal sides or low swampy areas in the mangrove forests and its vicinity and grow wildly in nature.

Chemical contents:
Part of plant contains acanthicifoline, oleanolic acid, β-sitosterol, lupeol, quercetin and its glucopyranoside, trigonellin.
 Roots are rich in saponin, glycoside of 3α-OH-lup-20(29)-ene.

Medicinal Value:
Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world with a poor prognosis. About three quarters of the cases of liver cancer are found in Southeast Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, India, and Japan. The frequency of liver cancer in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is greater than 20 cases per 100,000 population. Moreover, recent data show the frequency of liver cancer in the U.S. overall is rising.
The aim of cancer chemo prevention is to circumvent the development and progression of malignant cells through the use of non-cytotoxic nutrients, herbal preparations/natural plant products, and/or pharmacological agents. Encouraging dietary intake with herbal supplements may therefore be an effective strategy to limit DNA lesions and organic injuries leading to cancers and other chronic degenerative diseases.
The leaves of A. ilicifolius are used to treat rheumatism, neuralgia and poison arrow wounds .
It is widely believed among mangrove dwellers that chewing the leaves will protect against snake bite.
The pounded seeds of A. ebracteatus are used to treat boils, the juice of leaves to prevent hair loss and the leaves themselves to ward off evil .
Both species are also used to treat kidney stones. The whole plant is boiled in fresh water, and the patient drinks the solution instead of water, half a glass at a time, until the signs and symptoms disappear. 
Water extracted from the bark is used to treat colds and skin allergies.
Ground fresh bark is used as an antiseptic.
Tea brewed from the leaves relieves pain and purifies the blood.

Compiled by Harsh Saxena

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