Use of S. oleracea in Traditional Medicine

Plant Part

Mode of Administration


Flowerheads alone

Leaves alone

Roots alone

Leaves and flowerheads Whole plants


Infusion Decoction

Topical (by rubbing) Moist powder Decoction

Chewing Decoction

Local anaesthetic for toothache

To aid digestion


Lotion for rheumatism

Diuretic and for renal stones


Oral inflammation

Lotion for scabies and psoriasis


For scurvy

Against dysentery


Africa, India





Madagascar Africa, Southeast Asia

Source: Jellal, A. et al., (1998), Le Spilanthes, Etablissement National d'Enseignement Supérieur Agronomique (ENESA), Dijon, France.

is carried out by determination of foreign matter, of brown or yellow leaves, macroscopic examination of powders, thin-layer chromatography of extracts, and the consistent weight of the sachets.

Malarial is sold in packets containing 11 individual sachets of 10 g (see Figure 7.4). It is recommended for flu-like symptoms (joint pains, fever) and malaria. It is prepared by boiling one sachet of 10 g with a seedless slice of lemon in 500 ml of water for 10 minutes. The decoction is filtered and drunk tepid; sugar is added to taste. The adult dose is one sachet twice daily for 4 days, followed by one sachet once daily for 3 days. The paediatric dose is half of the adult dose.

FIGURE 7.4 Sachets of Malarial.

FIGURE 7.4 Sachets of Malarial.

7.2.2 Toxicity

Acute toxicity has been determined in mice by oral administration of Malarial. Groups of five mice weighing 20 ± 2 g were given (1) the therapeutic dose (0.33 g/kg), (2) three times the therapeutic dose (0.99 g/kg), and (3) 90 times the therapeutic dose (30 g/kg). The mice were starved for 12 hours. The decoction was dissolved in water, and this was administered orally with a syringe and an esophageal probe. The animals were observed for 1 week, and during this time no adverse signs were seen. Postmortem examinations and histopathology were not performed. Tona et al. (2001) performed histopathological examinations of mice treated with ethanolic, dichloromethane, and lyophilised aqueous extracts of C. occidentals root bark at a dose of 0.5 g/kg. No significant lesions were found. Cows and sheep have been fed large quantities of the leaves, with only transient gastrointestinal side effects (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).

7.2.3 Pharmacology

Each constituent of Malarial has a role. C. occidentals powder and leaves are antimalarial: Iwalewa et al. (1990) found that a methanol and ether extract of dried, powdered leaves had an inhibitory concentration 50% (IC50) of 0.59 mg/ml. L. chevalieri improves the taste of the medicine, and the flowerheads of S. oleraceae contain spilanthol, which is effective against Plasmodium falciparum (Jellal et al., 1998). The antimalarial activity of Malarial in vitro and in vivo was evaluated at the University of Marseille. In vitro Antimalarial Activity

In order to evaluate the antimalarial activity of different extracts in vitro, inhibition of P. falciparum proliferation in continuous culture was determined according to the technique of Trager and Polonsky (1981). In vitro tests were done on two strains of P. falciparum:

FCC2 (chloroquine sensitive, from Niger) FZR (chloroquine resistant, from the Comores)

The strains were maintained in culture by the method of Jensen and Trager (1978).

Parasitised erythrocytes were suspended in the culture medium (RPMI 1640 Sigma + 10% human serum) with a predetermined concentration of the lyophilised water extract of Malarial-5 and of the part of each plant it is composed of. The lyophilised extracts were dissolved (stock solution: 2 mg/ml, then dilution by halves) in a culture medium of P. falciparum (RPMI 1640 Sigma + 10% human serum) sterilised on a Millipore filter (0.45 m) to evaluate their antimalarial activity in vitro. Each concentration was tested three times. In each box, three negative controls were tested containing parasitised erythrocytes without Malarial in order to obtain the highest parasitaemia possible. Chloroquine was used as a positive control. After 48 hours of incubation, the parasitaemia in each box was quantified using thin-film microscopy (Gasquet et al., 1993).

Results were calculated as percent proliferation in comparison to the negative control. The IC50 values are given in Table 7.3. The antimalarial activity of each plant was similar on chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains. The activity of the Malarial decoction was similar to that of C. occidentalis. L. chevalieri was twice as active, and S. oleraceae was three times as active as Malarial.

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