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Resurrection plant improves sleep quality in cancer patients

23 July 2015   |   6:09 am
Scientists have endorsed Resurrection or rather Never Die plant for improving sleep quality and general well being in cancer patients and reducing blood pressure as well as preventing kidney damage in people with high blood pressure, among other therapeutic benefits. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.

Bryophyllum-Scientists have endorsed Resurrection or rather Never Die plant for improving sleep quality and general well being in cancer patients and reducing blood pressure as well as preventing kidney damage in people with high blood pressure, among other therapeutic benefits. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.

*Stops kidney stones, failure, hypertension, peptic ulcer, convulsion, others

aCommonly called Resurrection plant, Never Die plant, Air plant, Miracle leaf, or Life plant; Bryophyllum pinnatum belongs to the plant family Crassulaceae. It is known as odaa opue in Ibo, ewe abamoda or odundun in Yoruba, and da bu si in Chinese. To the Edo, it is danweshin or ekpokpo; afiayo in Efik; umbu in Ijo-Izon.

Earlier studies have shown that Bryophyllum pinnatum is a medicinally important plant having different group of phytoconstituents with a wide range of pharmacological activities. Leaves of B. pinnatum have been reported to have flavonoid, phenolic compounds, alkaloids, terpenoids, carbohydrates, minerals and glycosides.

Lightly roasted leaves are used against cancer, inflammations and a leaf infusion for fevers by Creoles. Mixture of leaf juice with coconut oil is used as a remedy for migraines and headaches. The Siona indigenous people heat the leaves and apply them topically to boils and skin ulcers. Rio Pastaza natives in Ecuador, use a leaf infusion to treat broken bones and internal bruises. Infusion of leaves and stem in cold water are used by indigenous tribes of Peru for heartburn, urethritis, fevers, and for all sorts of respiratory conditions. The root infusion is also used in epilepsy. In Kerala, tribals use plant for treating cancer symptoms. Leaves of B. pinnatum are known for their antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic activity, antihypertensive activity, immunosuppressive effect, anti-tumor activity. Antiulcer potentials of herbal drug have been reported in various scientific studies.
Boosts sleep in cancer patients

However, a recent study published in April 2015 edition of the journal Integrated Cancer Therapy and titled “Sleep Quality Improves During Treatment With Bryophyllum pinnatum: An Observational Study on Cancer Patients” concluded: “Bryophyllum pinnatum may be a suitable treatment for sleep problems of cancer patients. Controlled, randomized clinical trials of the use of Bryophyllum pinnatum in sleep disorders are urgently needed.”

The researchers further explained: “Cancer patients frequently suffer from poor sleep quality. Bryophyllum pinnatum is an herbal medication used in anthroposophic medicine, which has been shown to be associated with improvements in sleep quality during pregnancy with only few and minor or moderate side effects reported. In this study, the sleep quality of cancer patients during treatment with Bryophyllum pinnatum was investigated.

“In this prospective, observational study, cancer patients suffering from sleep problems were treated with B pinnatum (350 mg tablets, corresponding to 50 per cent of leaf pressed juice (Weleda AG, Arlesheim, Switzerland), dosage at physician’s consideration, but most frequently two tablets with evening meal and two before going to bed).

“Sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI]), daily sleepiness (Epworth Sleeping Scale [ESS]), and fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale [FSS]) were assessed at the beginning of the treatment and after three weeks. Possible adverse drug reactions perceived by the patients during the treatment were recorded. From the 28 recruited patients, 20 completed both questionnaires and were considered in the present analysis. Data are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.

“Patients were 61 ± 10.4 years old and the majority were female (17 out of 20). During treatment with Bryophyllum pinnatum, the PSQI decreased from 12.2 ± 3.62 to 9.1 ± 3.61 (P < .01), and ESS changed from 8.4 ± 3.18 to 7.1 ± 3.98 (P < .05). There was no change in FSS. The treatment was well tolerated by the majority of patients, with only six patients reporting discomfort that might have been caused by Bryophhyllum pinnatum (fatigue n = 3, dry throat n = 1, agitation n = 1, difficult digestion n = 1). No serious adverse drug reactions were detected.” Stops cervical cancer India researchers had also established the anticancer property of Bryophyllum pinnatum leaf on human cervical cancer cells. The researchers from the Division of Molecular Oncology, Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology (ICMR), Noida; Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; and Dr. B.R Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Delhi concluded: “Our study indicates for the first time that B. pinnatum can act as an anti-HPV molecule and apoptosis- inducing property. It therefore provides an important lead for development of anti-cancer therapeutics for management of cervical cancer. Further analysis and purification of the B. pinnatum leaf extract and in vivo studies may help in discovering the full potential of B. pinnatum as a source of an effective antiviral/anti-cancer drug.” The study was published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The researchers further explained: “Bryophyllum pinnatum (B. pinnatum) is a common medicinal plant used in traditional medicine of India and of other countries for curing various infections, bowel diseases, healing wounds and other ailments. However, its anticancer properties are poorly defined. In view of broad-spectrum therapeutic potential of B. pinnata we designed a study to examine anti-cancer and anti-Human Papillomavirus (HPV) activities in its leaf extracts and tried to isolate its active principle. “A chloroform extract derived from a bulk of botanically well-characterized pulverized B. pinnatum leaves was separated using column chromatography with step- gradient of petroleum ether and ethyl acetate. Fractions were characterized for phyto-chemical compounds by TLC, HPTLC and NMR and Biological activity of the fractions were examined by MTT-based cell viability assay, Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay, Northern blotting and assay of apoptosis related proteins by immune-blotting in human cervical cancer cells. “Results showed presence of growth inhibitory activity in the crude leaf extracts with IC50 at 552 μg/ml which resolved to fraction F4 (Petroleum Ether: Ethyl Acetate: 50:50) and showed IC50 at 91 μg/ml. Investigations of anti-viral activity of the extract and its fraction revealed a specific anti-HPV activity on cervical cancer cells as evidenced by down-regulation of constitutively active AP1 specific DNA binding activity and suppression of oncogenic c-Fos and c-Jun expression which was accompanied by inhibition of HPV18 transcription. In addition to inhibiting growth, fraction F4 strongly induced apoptosis as evidenced by an increased expression of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax, suppression of the anti-apoptotic molecules Bcl-2, and activation of caspase-3 and cleavage of PARP-1. Phytochemical analysis of fraction F4 by HPTLC and NMR indicated presence of activity that resembled Bryophyllin A.” Bursts kidney stones and end stage kidney disease Researchers in a study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine have evaluation of anti-urolithiatic effect of aqueous extract of Bryophyllum pinnatum leaves using ethylene glycol-induced renal calculi. Renal calculi are common and an extremely painful condition with recurrence rate 70 to 81 per cent and 47 to 60 per cent in male and female, respectively. Renal calculi are the infrequent cause of renal failure even though primary hyperoxaluria, cystinuria, primary struvite stones, and infections with urolithiasis carry a great risk to it. Recurrent stone formation is also associated with risk of renal damage. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is widely used for treatment of urolithiasis. Its multiple sessions in recurrent stone formation may cause chronic deterioration of renal function. Currently, there is no established treatment for prevention of urolithiasis. Therefore, there is need to establish a medical treatment for prevention of recurrent stone formation. Thirty-six Wistar male rats were randomly divided into six equal groups. Group A animals received distilled water for 28 days. Group B to group F animals received 1 per cent v/v ethylene glycol in distilled water for 28 days and group B served as ethylene glycol control. Groups C and D (preventive groups) received aqueous extract of leaves of B. pinnatum 50 and 100 mg/kg intraperitoneally, respectively for 28 days. Groups E and F (treatment groups) received aqueous extract of leaves of B. pinnatum 50 and 100 mg/kg intraperitoneally, respectively from 15th to 28th day. On days 0 and 28, 24 hours urine samples were collected for urinary volume and urinary oxalate measurement. On day 28, blood was collected for serum creatinine and blood urea level monitoring. All animals were sacrificed and kidneys were removed, weighed, and histopathologically evaluated for calcium oxalate crystals deposition. Administration of aqueous extract of leaves of B. pinnatum reduced urine oxalate level ‎significantly, as compared with Group B. Serum creatinine and blood urea level were ‎improved significantly in all aqueous extract of leaves of B. pinnatum-treated groups. Relative ‎kidney weight and calcium oxalate depositions were found significantly reduced in animals ‎received ABP as compared with Group B. ‎ The researchers concluded that B. pinnatum is effective in prevention and treatment of ethylene glycol-induced urolithiasis. Prevents peptic ulcer Researchers have also established the gastroprotective effect of aqueous extract and mucilage from Bryophyllum pinnatum against peptic ulcers. The study was published last year in Ancient Science of Life. The present study was carried out to evaluate the gastro-protective activity of B. pinnatum whole plant aqueous extract, and mucilage (MUC) isolated from the whole plant against ethanol-induced gastric ulcer. Pretreatment of rats with aqueous extract at dose level of 500 and 750 mg/kg b.w. MUC at 500 mg/kg dose level and standard drug Rabeprazole at dose level of 20 mg/kg b.w. where given for 7 days. The aqueous whole plant extract of B. pinnatum at dose of 750 mg/kg p.o. and MUC at dose of 500 mg/kg p.o. markedly decrease the incidence of ulcers in ethanol induced ulcer rats. In ethanol induced ulcer rats, there was a decrease in the gastric volume, free and total acidity and ulcerative index as compared to the control group. Total carbohydrate content was found to be an increase as compare to control the group. The aqueous whole plant extract of B. pinnatum at dose of 750 mg/kg showed a significant reduction in the above parameters, which was comparable to the standard drug rabeprazole (20 mg/kg). B. pinnatum extract and MUC showed protection index 72.69 and 69.65 per cent respectively, whereas standard drug rabeprazole showed protection index 75.49 per cent. The researchers concluded: “Bryophyllum pinnatum extract could significantly protect the gastric mucosa against ethanol-induced injury. Such protection was shown to be dose dependent as ascertained by the reduction of UAs in the gastric wall, as well as the reduction or inhibition of edema and leucocytes infiltration of sub-mucosal layers. Protection of gastric mucosa was most prominent at a dose of 750 mg/kg extract. Further, MUC isolated from B. pinnatum showed potent gastro protective effect which when analyzed using NMR revealed the presence of galactopyranuronic acid units. In future AEBP and MUC can further be clinically checked for new drug development for the treatment of gastric ulcers.” Resurrection plant and hypertension A Nigerian researcher at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Durban-Westville, Durban 4000, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, John A.O. Ojewole, has established antihypertensive properties of Bryophyllum pinnatum leaf extracts. The study was published in American Journal of Hypertension. The researchers wrote: “Black Africans are characterized by an increased prevalence of essential hypertension (EH). Several studies have shown that extractives from many plants are useful for the management and/or control of high blood pressure (hypertension). The aim of this study was to evaluate the antihypertensive efficacy of leaf extracts of Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam) Oken [family: Crassulaceae], a plant commonly employed in the management of all types and grades of hypertension by some Yorubas of Western Nigeria. “The effects of aqueous and methanolic leaf extracts of the herb were examined on arterial blood pressures and heart rates of normal (normotensive) and spontaneously hypertensive rats, using invasive and non-invasive techniques. Both the aqueous and methanolic leaf extracts of B. pinnatum (BP, 50-800 mg/kg i.v. or i.p.) produced dose-related, significant (P<0.05 - 0.001) decreases in arterial blood pressures and heart rates of anaesthetized normotensive and hypertensive rats.” “The hypotensive effects of the leaf extracts were more pronounced in the hypertensive than in normotensive rats. The leaf extracts (BP, 0.25 - 5.0 mg/ml) also produced dose-dependent, significant (P<0.05 -0.001) decreases in the rate and force of contractions of guinea-pig isolated atria, and inhibited electrical field stimulation (ES)-provoked, as well as potassium and receptor-mediated agonist drugs-induced contractions of the rat isolated thoraxic aortic strips in a non-specific manner.