FIRECRACKER, FOUNTAIN PLANT, CORAL BUSH: HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIRECRACKER
This plant is native to
Mexico, although it has naturalized in Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean, as well as other countries with hot climates. It was formerly classed as one of the figwort or Scrophulariaceae family, although it has recently been moved to the Plantaginaceae family. This makes it a relative of the white turtlehead (Chelone glabra), speedwell (Veronica officinalis), the plantains, French psyllium, foxgloves, brahmi or water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), snapdragons, and brooklime or the water pimpernel.
This shrub grows to heights of five feet and has a similar spread. It flowers from early spring to autumn, when it starts to get frosty. It has tubular red or coral flowers which attract hummingbirds and butterflies and it looks rather like a spectacular floral fountain, cascading when in bloom. This is why it has the name Fountain plant or bush.
In south west
Nigeria the plant is used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes and leukaemia and in traditional medicine it is also said to promote hair growth. It is also used to treat malaria and inflammatory diseases.
Recently it has been the subject of a few research studies, which have generally borne out the traditional uses of the plant. However these have not been replicated outside
O. T. Kolawole and S. O. Kolawole published a research paper in 2010 which concludes “chronic use of Russelia equisetiformis could “impair normal liver function and therefore should be used with care.” (Biology and Medicine Vol2 (3) pp38-41) So this plant comes with a health warning.
O. T. Kolawole et al also published another paper in the Nigerian Journal of Physiological Sciences 2007 Vol22 (1-2) pp. 50-63, “Central nervous system depressant activity of Russelia equisetiformis” In which they state the “methanol extract possesses central nervous system depressant activities” and further research has shown that the extracts of the whole plant has anti-nociceptive effects.
The latest research “Anti-inflammatory activity of Russelia equisetiformis Schlect and Cham: identification of its active constituents” published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, 2012 Vol. 1 (1) pp.25-29, by Awe Emmanuel Olorunju et al. states “lupeol isolated from extract of Russelia equisetiformis possesses anti-inflammatory activity in acute and certain aspects of chronic inflammation.”
From these studies, it would appear that this beautiful plant could be hiding some medicinal properties that we can all benefit from.