Porophyllum ruderale : A Medical Study

Porophyllum ruderale is used as both a culinary (1) and medicinal herb in its place of origin (2). It has unfortunately suffered from its association with the indigenous peoples of México and like many of these plants has been replaced by imported herbs due to this association (3). This is also noted by the author of the study we are now looking at who states “This study becomes a very important step to give added value and promote the consumption of this species that is endemic to Mexico and whose consumption has been a very ancient practice; in pre-Hispanic times, the Aztecs used it in traditional medicine and as a vegetable to accompany food; however, despite its nutritional and pharmacological properties, it is little valued and its use in the diet has been displaced by other vegetables decreasing its purchase in traditional markets”. There is however a strong drive within México to look at the buried culture of the past and to reinvigorate pride in the knowledge and accomplishments of their forebears.

  1. See Post Quillquina : Porophyllum ruderale
  2. See Post Porophyllums : Medicinal Utility : A Recap
  3. See Post Quelites : Quilitl

A study on the nephroprotective (1) effect of a hydroalcoholic extract (2) from the aerial parts of P. ruderale (HEPr) has recently been released (3). In 2019 the aerial parts of papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale) were collected in Santa Ana Hueytlalpan, Tulancingo, Hidalgo, México. A specimen was deposited at the herbarium of the Faculty of Higher Education Iztacala of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. This herbal material was then used as the base material for the extract (HEPr) used in the experiment.

  1. nephroprotective – protects the kidneys from harm. Each of your kidneys is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule. The nephrons work through a two-step process: the glomerulus filters your blood, and the tubule returns needed substances to your blood and removes wastes (through the urine). Nephrotoxicity describes the process that occurs when kidneys are damaged by a drug, chemical or toxin, resulting in possible chronic kidney disease. Nephroprotective actions of natural products are generally mediated by their antioxidant properties, and to some extent, anti-inflammatory functions. (Jivishov 2020)
  2. MeOH:water 70:30, v/v : a solid extract obtained by extracting the soluble principles of the drug with alcohol and water, followed by evaporation of the solution. Evaporation of the solution is not always required, nor does it need be solid. The United States Pharmacopoeia notes that tinctures (liquid) are also hydroalcoholic extracts (Awad etal 2021)
  3. Nephroprotective Activity of Papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale) in Thioacetamide-Induced Injury Model (Vázquez-Atanacio etal 2022)

In order to test the efficacy of natural products, it is important to select the appropriate experimental model, use the species most
relevant to humans (1) , and consider an experimental design that allows the most accurate mechanistic conclusions and truly tests the
therapeutic potential of a compound. The in vivo nephroprotective activity of HEPr was evaluated using a thioacetamide-induced injury model (2). Thioacetamide (TAA) (3) administration is a common model to recreate acute liver injury and cirrhosis in animals and replicates human disease induced by a variety of etiologies (4). The in vivo acute oral toxicity test (5) was determined based on the methods described in the OECD Guideline for Testing of Chemical “Acute Oral Toxicity Acute Toxic Class Method” (OECD. Test No. 423 – see References) and was performed on mice. This test is based on the use of a dose progression factor from 5 to 2000 mg/kg, while for extracts for which no toxic effect is known, it is recommended to start with the limit test (5000 mg/kg). The extract of papalo was delivered at a dose of 5000mg/kg as there was no data on the toxicity of the species. All procedures described in the testing process were carried out in accordance with the Mexican Official Standard NOM-062-ZOO-1999.

  1. in this case both rats and mice – diligence must be taken in these kind of experiments as rats can be resistant to chemicals that are typically toxic to humans.
  2. in albino male Wistar rats
  3. Thioacetamide is a synthetic, colourless crystalline solid that is soluble in water and ethanol. Thioacetamide appears as white crystals with a mercaptan odour. Mercaptan, also known as methanethiol is a foul-smelling gas that is added to natural gas. Since natural gas is colourless and odourless, mercaptan acts as an odorant to make it easier to detect. It is added as a safety measure to ensure that natural gas leaks do not go undetected. It is an organic gas composed of carbon, hydrogen, and sulfur. Mercaptan is found naturally in living organisms, including the human body where it is a waste product of metabolism. Mercaptans bond strongly with mercury compounds, and most release strong odours that resemble garlic or rotting cabbage. These compounds are detectable by the human nose at concentrations as small as only 10 parts per billion, making them an effective odourant
  4. etiology (also aetiology) (Medicine) – the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or abnormal condition. : the investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.
  5. Acute systemic toxicity testing involves an assessment of the general toxic effects of a single dose or multiple doses of a chemical or product, within 24 hours by a particular route (oral, dermal, inhalation), and that occur during a subsequent 21-day observation period. No animal died during the 14 days of observation after the dose of 5000 mg/kg of HEPr. The mice ate and increased their body mass normally. No signs of toxicity were observed such as difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite, or death. According to OECD standards, (the) HEPr (extract) has an LD50 > 5000 mg/kg and (P.ruderale) is considered a harmless species

Drugs such as antibiotics represent the major implicating factor in acute kidney injury due to the kidneys’ role in processing them and excreting their metabolites. This acute renal injury can lead to renal failure which is then further associated with other pathological conditions such as sepsis, cardiovascular disorders, and diabetes.


Porophyllum ruderale is a great source of phenolic compounds with important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities that can contribute to its nephroprotective effect.

The study determined that this species of quelite is incredibly safe (they used the word “harmless”). The analysis of the data presented in this study provides a basis for a potential therapeutic intervention in renal oxidative damage in humans, which could be used as an adjuvant (1) treatment to prevent, mitigate (2) the progression of, or attenuate (3) the renal damage caused by oxidative stress.

  1. (derived from the Latin verb “adjuvare”, to help), which also has a more general meaning as someone or something assisting in any operation or effect. In pharmacology, an adjuvant is a drug or other substance, or a combination of substances, that is used to increase the efficacy or potency of certain drugs.
  2. make (something bad) less severe, serious, or painful.
  3. to make something less or weaker

The author of the study also notes that this species sorely needs further investigation due to the potential of its phytochemical content and known biological activities that might possibly be applied medicinally to a range of conditions.

Another reason why “weeds” are my favourite herbal medicines.


  • Atheer Awad, Christine M. Madla, Francesca K.H. Gavins, Nour Allahham, Sarah J. Trenfield, Abdul W. Basit; (2021) The Science and Practice of Pharmacy : Chapter 20 – Liquid dosage forms : Remington (Twenty-third Edition), Academic Press, ISBN 9780128200070, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-820007-0.00020-9.
  • Hajovsky, Heather; Hu, Gang; Koen, Yakov; Sarma, Diganta; Cui, Wenqi; Moore, David S.; Staudinger, Jeff L.; Hanzlik, Robert P. (2012). Metabolism and Toxicity of Thioacetamide and Thioacetamide S -Oxide in Rat Hepatocytes. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 25(9), 1955–1963. doi:10.1021/tx3002719
  • Jivishov, Emil (2020). [Annual Reports in Medicinal Chemistry] Medicinal Natural Products: A Disease-Focused Approach Volume 55 || Nephroprotective natural products. , (), 251–271. doi:10.1016/bs.armc.2020.02.003
  • P. Muriel, E. Ramos-Tovar, G. Montes-Páez, L.D. Buendía-Montaño, (2017) Experimental Models of Liver Damage Mediated by Oxidative Stress,Liver Pathophysiology, Chapter 40 – Pages 529-546, Academic Press, ISBN 9780128042748, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-804274-8.00040-0.
  • OECD. Test No. 423: Acute Oral toxicity – Acute Toxic Class Method. In OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals; OECD Publishing: Paris, France, 2002; pp. 1–14.
  • Ramachandran, A. (2016). Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering || Experimental Models of Hepatotoxicity for the Testing of Natural Products. , (), –. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-409547-2.11715-9
  • Vázquez-Atanacio, María José, Mirandeli Bautista, Manasés González-Cortazar, Antonio Romero-Estrada, Minarda De la O-Arciniega, Araceli Castañeda-Ovando, Carolina G. Sosa-Gutiérrez, and Deyanira Ojeda-Ramírez. 2022. “Nephroprotective Activity of Papaloquelite (Porophyllum ruderale) in Thioacetamide-Induced Injury Model” Plants 11, no. 24: 3460. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11243460


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