Thursday, June 12, 2008

Elephantopus scaber

Scientific name : Elephantopus scaber L.
Common name : Elephant's foot / Solomon's seal
Local name : Tutup bumi / Tapak sulaiman
Family : Compositae

Because of its leaf form which lies flat on the ground and covers more than its share of space, the Malays equate it with the pentacle seal of Solomon by which it confines the jins underground. As Solomon's seal, it is traditionally reputed to be potent for all diseases. So far, this crop has not been domesticated in Malaysia, but collected from the wild by traditional healers for preparing herbal remedies.

Plant description
These are erect, stiff, perennial herbs growing up to a height of 50cm. The leaves are mostly concentrated on the lower portion of the stem and arranged in a rosette manner. The leaves are slightly serrated, covered with white hairs, variable in shape and size, oblonged or rounded near the tip and narrower to the base. The petioles are very short and hairy. The flower heads are borne at the end of dichotomously branched pedicels, which are covered with white hairs. The flowers are numerous, sessile, closely packed forming a large flat-topped terminal inflorescence. Three green broad leaf-like bracts surround each flower cluster. The corolla lobes are violet in color while the tube is white. The corolla margin is deeply cleft on one of its side. The stamen is appendicular in nature and is arranged round the single central style. The fruits or achnes are truncate with fine ridges and surrounded with pappus of stiff bristles.

Plant habitat
These plants can be found growing wildly on roadsides, grassy fields and forest borders.

Plant growth habit/cultivation
This herb can be propagated easily through seeds. The seeds are collected by enclosing the flowers with a piece of paper. The seeds are minute and very light and therefore during sowing they are normally mixed with loose dampen soil and then sprinkled on the nursery beds. Germination success is about 70-80%.
Within two weeks of sowing, the first leaf can be seen emerging out. The plant is then transferred to the field after a period of one month or when the seedling reaches the 4-5 leaf stage. Tutup bumi is a very hardy crop and needs minimal care and fertilizing. It can also adapt itself to a wide range of conditions. It is a relatively a slow growing herb and is susceptible to only insect attacks.
Plant parts used : Whole herb, roots.

Uses in traditional medicine
The plant is primarily used as a diuretic, febrifuge and to relieve anuria and blennorrhea. Other applications include employment as an antibiotic, antiswelling agent, antipyretic, antiinflammatory, bechic and emollient. It is believed to be a good remedy for leucorrhea, anemia, and beneficial during parturition. In Malaysia, tutup bumi is taken internally as a diuretic, febrifuge and anthelmintic and applied externally as a poultice for abdominal pains and other complaints. A decoction made from the leaves or roots is used as a tonic for eliminating roundworms and treating coughs and venereal diseases. The roots and leaves are taken after childbirth as a protective medicine. A decoction made from the fresh roots and sireh is prescribed to arrest vomiting whilst the leaves are recommended for treating dropsy.

The plant is used as a diuretic and febrifuge in Indo-China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The roots, either pounded in water or in decoction, are used in Indonesia as a remedy for leucorrhea, anemia of women and children. In the Philippines, a decoction or infusion of the roots and leaves is used as an emollient, for treating diarrhea, dysentery, pulmonary diseases, scabies, urethral discharges and for relieving anuria and belnnorrhea. In Indo-China, a decoction made from the plant is used as diuretic, tonic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue and is taken internally for dyspepsia, intermittent fevers and menstrual irregularities.
In Chinese traditional medicine, the plant is used to treat conjunctivitis, epidemic encephalitis B, pertussis, acute hepatitis, cirrhosis, ascitis, acute and chronic hepatitis, ferunculosis and eczema. The Taiwanese use the root to relieve chest pains.

In India, a decoction of the root is given for urethral discharges, diarrhea, dysentery, dysuria and as a cardiac-tonic. In Ceylon, paste prepared from the tutup bumi leaves, water and honey is used for treating septic nails and wounds caused by bites of wild animals.

In Madagascar, it is considered a diuretic and febrifuge and in the West Indies as a tonic, diaphoretic and emmenagogue and given for dyspepsia, intermittent fevers and menstrual derangements. The plant is traditionally used in Brazil to eliminate bladder stones.

Chemical constituents
i) Chemicals with commercial potential: Deoxyelephantopin, molephantinin, phantomolin.
ii) Other chemicals: p-amyrin acetate, crepiside E. deacylcynaropicrin, 11,13-dihydrodeoxy-elephantopin, dihydroelephantopin, elephantin, elephantopin, epifriedelanol, glucozaluzanin-C, isodeoxyelephantopin, lupeol, lupeol acetate, molephantin, nudaphantin, stigmasterol, stigmasteryl 3-p-glucopyranoside.

This herb is reported to have antibacterial activity. Aqueous extract of Elephantopus scaber improves hepatic lesions caused by p-D-galactosamine (D-GalN)- and acetaminophen (APAP)-induced acute hepatic damage in rats. In another study, it was found that hepatic fatty metamorphosis and necrosis of central lobules were significantly improved after treatment with tutup bumi extracts.

Aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts of tutup bumi, at 0.3-6g/kg i.p. administration, induced writhing, loss of muscle tone, ataxia, prostration and death in mice. However, no analgesic effects of these extracts were detected using mouse hot-plate and acetic acid-induced writhing tests. Both extracts also failed to modify diuresis or carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema. Brewer's yeast-induced hyperthermia in rats was reduced by extracts given at a dose of lOOmg/kg i.p., but there was no effect after oral administration (300 or 600mg/kg). Moreover, the aqueous extract decreased the intestinal transit time in mice while the hydroalcoholic extract increased it. Tutup bumi extracts at 25-100mg/kg (i.v.) reduced blood pressure and heart rates in rats.
Tutup bumi exhibited considerable antibacterial activity (MIC=7.8-23.4mg/ml) against cariogenic bacterium and Streptococcus mutans. An extract of the tutup bumi leaves also showed antibiotic activity (1/5) against Staphylococcus.
Clinical trials : No information available.

Towards commercial production
Although the health benefits of tutup bumi are tremendous, there has been very little attempt to commercialize its product. A few herbal products such as Shanggan Tablets, derived from tutup bumi is now available in China and in some Chinese traditional medicine stores in Southeast Asia where it is marketed as a Chinese Patent Medicine. Locally, their use is restricted to the traditional healers in preparing local 'jamus'.

1 comment:

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