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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

JERUBEBA - THE NEXT WONDER HERB? HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF JERUBEBA


JERUBEBA, SOLANUM PNAICULATUM
Jerubeba is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family of plants, making it a relative of the Nipplefruit, aubergines, Belladonna, tomatoes and potatoes as well as the spiny and woody nightshades. It is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and has been used in these countries in traditional medicine for centuries. The plant grows to around three metres high and has hairy undersides on its leaves, with white to lilac flowers giving way to a berry-like fruit which when ripe is yellowy-orange, in some ways resembling its distant relative the Cape gooseberry. As a member of the Solanaceae family it is also related to the tomatillo, the Chinese lantern and the tamarillo.
 Traditionally in Brazil it is used as a general tonic as well as for fevers, anaemia, erysipelas, hepatitis, liver and spleen disorders, uterine tumors, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic gastritis, and digestive problems such as poor digestion, bloating, and flatulence. Jurubeba leaf tea is a very common household remedy throughout Brazil for hangovers and relief from that feeling you have when you over-eat. It is also sometimes used externally in poultices to heal wounds and ulcers. The parts used are the leaves, fruit and roots.
  Other traditional uses recorded are to get rid of internal parasites and to reduce flatulence. It is supposed to be a diuretic, to help in respiratory problems and also to clear obstructions in the internal organs.
  Any herbal remedy should be used with care and only in consultation with a doctor. There are effects of Jerubeba which should be borne in mind. First of all the phytochemical solasodine contained in the plant and others in the nightshade family has been shown in some studies to reduce sperm count and have an anti-fertility effect in male animals. It also has been shown to lower blood pressure as well as to stimulate the heart. Herbalists in Brazil recommend that the plant should not be used for longer than 30 days as it can irritate the stomach lining.
  Dr. G. L. Cruz, in his book, "Livro Verde das Plantas Medicinais e Industriais do Brasil" (1965, Belo Horizonte, Vol. 11 p. 554) wrote that
 ". . . the roots, leaves, and fruit are used as a tonic and decongestive. It stimulates the digestive functions and reduces the swelling of the liver and spleen. It is a good remedy against chronic hepatitis, intermittent fever, uterine tumors, and hydropsy."
   However these traditional uses have not been corroborated by research despite claims to the contrary.
   Research does seem to show that the plant is a good treatment for stomach ulcers and gastric disorders, thus bearing out at least some of its traditional uses.
 “…antiulcer activity of the plant extracts appears to be related directly to a potent anti-secretory activity. No toxic signs were observed following administration of different extracts up to 2 g/kg body wt., p.o. Collectively, the results validate folk use of Solanum paniculatum L. plant to treat gastric disorders.” S. Mesia Vela et al. 2002, “Solanum paniculatum L. (Jurubeba): Potent inhibitor of gastric secretion in mice” Phytomedicine Vol. 9 (6) pp.508-14.
   These results were published from the same study in different journals in the same year
“Our results indicate that neither S. paniculatum ethanolic leaf extract nor its ethanolic fruit extract exhibited mutagenic effect in mice bone marrow; however, at higher doses, both extracts presented cytotoxic activity.” Viera PM, Santos SC and Chen-Chen L. 2010, Assessment of mutagenicity and cytotoxicity of Solanum paniculatum L. extracts using in vivo micronucleus test in mice” Brazilian Journal of Biology vol.7 (3).
  However the study also showed that the “leaf extract may have antimutagenic effects” but this was not conclusive. Viera P. M, Santos S. C and Chen-Chen L. 2010, “Solanum paniculatum L. leaf and fruit extracts: assessment of modulation of cytotoxicity and genotoxicity by micronucleus test in mice.” Journal of Medicinal Food Vol. 13 (6) 1424-30.
  The jerubeba has also been found to have anti-viral effects on the herpes virus; Ydia M, Valadares et al, 2009 “Antiviral activity of Solanum paniculatum Extract and Constituents” in Z Naturforsch Vol. 64 pp 813-818. This study concluded that this plant is a “source of cytotoxic and antiviral compounds.”
  However most of the research has been carried out in Brazil and has been focusing on proving that the traditional uses of the plant are valid according to its botanical structure. More research needs to be done by others to see if these studies’ findings can be replicated.




 








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