Plectranthus amboinicus (Indian borage) - Benefits, Uses & Phytochemical Constitution
Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. of the Lamiaceae family is a perennial herb encountered typically throughout the tropics of Asia, Australia and Africa. The herb is rich in natural phytochemical compounds that have high end nutritional and therapeutic properties. This makes the herb highly appreciated in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, the herb has profuse essential oil content and aromatic properties that makes it a horticultural treasure. It is extensively used in indigenous systems of medicine to cure health conditions like fever, cough, headache, cold, asthma, skin diseases etc. The leaves of the herb are also used as flavoring agents in the traditional cuisines. Studies disclose that the herb has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti inflammatory, wound healing, analgesic and anti epileptic properties. It is also known to cure digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary and skin disorders.
Plectranthus amboinicus are aromatic succulents with medicinal properties. Their leaves possess a distinctive aroma and a refreshing odour. The plant may reach up to a height of 1 metre. The stem has long hairs. Leaves are simple and hairy giving them a frosted appearance. The flowers are bell shaped with a purplish corolla. They are fast growing and are usually propagated with stem cuttings. Since they have the ability to store large amounts of water, they need not be watered regularly and are seen to grow in dry areas.
The herb is home to about 30 non volatile and 76 volatile phytochemicals belonging to the class of flavonoids, esters, alcohols, aldehydes, phenolics, monoterpenoids, diterpenoids, triterpenoids and sesquiterpenoids. However the bioactive constitution and essential oil content of the plant varies according to the geographical scenarios and the climatic factors.
Plectranthus amboinicus has been known for its antibacterial properties since times immemorial. The leaf decoction of the herb has been seen to be effective in conditions like chronic cough and tuberculosis caused by bacteria. The leaves inhibit the growth of pathogens like Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli. The leaves of P. amboinicus also act against diabetic wound pathogens.
It is evident that P. amboinicus inhibits the growth of disease causing fungi such as Aspergillus niger, Penicillium etc. The essential oils present in the herb is known to have a synergistic effect on C. albicans, C. tropicalis and similar class of fungi.
Recent studies have proved that certain phytochemical constituents of P. amboinicus have reported to have antiviral properties against Herpes Simplex Virus. They are known to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome with their anti-HIV inhibition activity. They are also reported to have antiviral activity against Vesicular Stomatitis Viruses.
P. amboinicus are seen to be effective in curing nervous disorders like convulsions and epilepsy. It is cited that the presence of flavonoids and alkaloids are responsible for the antiepileptic and anticonvulsant properties.
Wound Healing Properties
P. amboinicus is known to have the capability of preventing the chances of infection in diabetic patients. They lower the blood sugar levels. Application of paste of P. amboinicus has the ability to heal wounds. They enhance wound contraction, collagen deposition and thereby reduce the epithelialization period of the wound.
The essential oils present in P. amboinicus have reported larvicidal activity. They are seen to be effective against Aedes aegypti, thereby preventing chances of dengue fever, haemorrhagic fever and yellow fever. They are also effective against Anopheles mosquitoes. This is the most eco-friendly and economical prevention for diseases spread by mosquitoes and other larval vectors.
The fresh leaf extracts of P. amboinicus have the ability to control the inhibition of the mediators of proinflammation. This property makes them prophylactic in curing headaches. The analgesic property of the herb is also used to cure neuromuscular conditions such as backache, neckpain etc.
P. amboinicus is known to do miracles in the treatment of respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic cough, bronchitis and other throat disorders. They are known to have positive bronchodilator activity that helps in treating catarrhal infections. They also act as great expectorants and clears the excessive phlegm that are stagnant within the respiratory tract.
P. amboinicus has carminative and digestive properties and is the most popular remedy for digestive conditions such as diarrhoea, indigestion and dyspepsia. For diarrhoea induced by pathogens, the leaves of the plant are taken along with any probiotic sources such as buttermilk. Metabolic enzymes produced by the phytoconstituents of the leaves are responsible for the carminative properties.
The leaf extracts of P. amboinicus are known to treat cardiovascular disorders like congestive heart failure. They increase the availability of intracellular calcium by bringing about greater sodium influx.
P. amboinicus have been seen to be effective in curing several genitourinary disorders since time immemorial. The juice of the plant dissolves the crystals that may be present in the urinary tract, thereby proving to be effective in urolithiasis conditions. They also relieve vaginal disorders such as excessive vaginal discharge. In many countries, the juice of the plant is taken as a drink after childbirth so as to prevent further genitourinary complications that may follow the vaginal delivery.
Disorders of the oral cavity are becoming a huge concern these days and natural remedies to them are gaining public attention. The phytoconstituents of the herb are known to inhibit bacterial growth in the oral cavity, thereby preventing periodontal diseases and dental caries. They may be used along with mouthwash.
P. amboinicus is one among the most widely used dietary herbs. It enhances the flavor and taste of the cuisine. Besides, it is also rich in nutritive compounds like calcium, potassium and other minerals. These minerals are solely responsible for the effect of the herb against cardiovascular disorders, neuromuscular disorders, nephrological disorders etc. They also have significantly rich amounts of iron, zinc, copper, sodium, potassium, carotenes etc. No wonder, the herb is a unique dietary supplement.
It is clearly evident that P. amboinicus with its phytochemical constituents is a wonder herb and an absolute supplement towards maintaining good health. The bioactive constituents of the plant have proved to be effective in curing a wide range of diseases. It has a copious future prospectus in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical arena owing to its cost effective, natural and safer bioactive constituents.