Porophyllum lanceolatum

Also called, clavelina, hierba del ciervo, hierba del venado, yerba del venado, ıvira käti (Isoceño-guaran´ı) quilquina (Argentina)

This herb is used in west-central Argentina primarily as an infusion. One study of P.lanceolatum (Mattana etal) showed that extracts from this plant look promising as a potential natural therapy against Gram-positive bacteria (1).  According to the Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Santa Fe (2) in Argentina it is said to have digestive, antispasmodic and diaphoretic properties and is traditionally used as an anti-venereal (3). Its efficacy as an anti-venereal has no scientific basis at this stage and I would not rely on it over the use of modern antibiotic treatments. The fresh leaves are applied in poultice form as vulnerary (4). (Del Vitto 1997) It is not recommended that this herb be used during pregnancy or lactation or to treat small children.

  1. Gram positive bacteria include streptococcus, staphylococcus, listeria, Corynebacterium and clostridium
  2. Pharmaceutical College of Santa Fe
  3. Any of several contagious diseases, such as syphilis and gonorrhea, contracted through sexual intercourse.
  4. Vulnerary – used in the treating or healing of wounds

In Argentina this herb has been also traditionally been used to expel the placenta (1), as an ocular antiseptic, for lung diseases and to treat furuncles (2). (Freire et al 2005)

  1. this may be why it is not recommended during pregnancy. Any herb that can cause uterine contractions is best avoided whilst pregnant.
  2. Furuncles (commonly known as boils) is a deep folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle). It is most commonly caused by infection by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, resulting in a painful swollen area on the skin caused by an accumulation of pus and dead tissue.

Quercetin, quercetin-7-glucoside, quercetin-3′-arabinoside, quercetin-3-arabinosyl-rhamnoside and flavone-5,7,8,3′-tetrahydroxy-4’methoxy-3-glucoside were identified in extracts from the flowers of this species which is used in popular (read “folk”) medicine against conjunctivitis (Juarez etal 1990). This mirrors the use of P.ruderale whose infusion is used as an eyewash.

The Isoseño-Guaraní people of Bolivia use a strong decoction (internally) of the aerial parts of this plant in lung ailments where fever is present (1).

  1. Dosages not given (Bourdy et al 2003)

A substance closely resembling acetylcholine has been found in the leaves, shoots and roots of this porophyllum (Horton & Felippe 1973). Its concentration in terms of acetylcholine estimated by biological assay was 0.1 ± 0.02 μmol g-1 fresh weight of leaf.

In the book “Neurotransmitters in plants: perspectives and applications” (Ramakrishna etal 2016) the reference to acetylcholine is expanded upon. It is said that P.lanceolatum is a plant that is considered “rich” in acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is utilised at the neuromuscular junction, it is a chemical that the motor neurons of the nervous system release in order to activate muscles. It controls the contraction of all skeletal muscles and affects the contraction of smooth and cardiac muscles. At doses of 0.05 – 0.15g/day it can act as a vasodilator (1) and decrease arterial pressure, retard cardiac rhythm, induce stenosis (2) of the pupils, enhance smooth muscle contraction in internal organs and increase the secretions of the sudoriferous (3), lacrimal (4) and bronchial glands.

  1. relax smooth muscle cells within blood vessel walls and widen the blood vessel.
  2. abnormal narrowing (contraction)
  3. sweat secreting
  4. tear secreting

The content of acetylcholine is further expanded upon,

The acetylcholine content of P.lanceolatum has been calculated at nmoles g -1 (1) of fresh dry mass (in brackets) or μg g -1 of fresh mass (out of brackets)

Leaves (1.31 – 19.0) 0.21 – 3.1 Stem (1.02 – 2.4) 0.17 – 0.39 Root (0.91 – 4.5) 0.15 – 0.73 (Ramakrishna etal 2019)

  1. the nmol of a compound is equal to the kDa mass (kilodalton – the unified atomic mass unit) of the compound converted to µgs (micrograms). The mole is a unit of amount of substance, widely used in chemistry and physics, which was originally defined so that the mass of one mole of a substance, measured in grams, would be numerically equal to the average mass of one of its constituent particles, measured in daltons. That is, the molar mass of a chemical compound was meant to be numerically equal to its average molecular mass. For example, the average mass of one molecule of water is about 18.0153 daltons, and one mole of water is about 18.0153 grams. A nanomole is one thousand-millionth of a mole.

The Yanomami of Venezuela use a strong decoction of the aerial parts of this plant as a treatment for lung ailments that present with fever (Gertsch etal 2004)

Antibacterial activity of extracts of P.lanceolatum

The values of MIC (1) and MBC (1) are expressed in mg/mL.

NA: Extract not active at concentration tested.

ND: Bactericidal concentration not detected at maximum concentration tested (4 mg/ml).

(Mattana etal 2012)

  1. (MICs) are defined as the lowest concentration of an antimicrobial that will inhibit the visible growth of a microorganism after overnight incubation, and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) as the lowest concentration of antimicrobial that will prevent the growth of an organism after subculture on to antibiotic-free media. The closer the MIC is to the MBC, the more bactericidal the compound.
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