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Family Scrophulariaceae
Coral bush
Russelia equisetiformis Schlecth. & Cham.

Bao zhang zhu

Scientific names Common names
Russelia equisetiformis Schlecth. & Cham. Coralblow (Engl.)
Russelia juncea Zucc. Coral fountain (Engl.)
  Coral plant (Engl.)
  Firecracjer fern (Engl.)
  Firecracker plant (Engl.)
  Firecracker bush (Engl.)
  Fountain bush (Engl.)
  Red coral flower (Engl.)
Russelia equisetiformis Schltdl. & Cham. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE; Bao zhang zhu.
COLOMBIA: Cola de caballo.
FRENCH: Russélie fausse-prêle, Plante corail.
HINDI: Rasili.
ITALIAN: Coral de italia.
SPANISH: Lagrima de cupido.

Coral bush is a shrub growing up to 1 meter, low growing with distinctive drooping flower-laden stems. Leaves are small, linear-lanceolate or ovate and almost scalelike on the branches. Flowers are red, tubular, 2-lipped, up to 3 cm long and in loose branching clusters.

- Native to Mexico.
- Recently introduced to the Philippines.

- Leaves yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins, steroids, and terpenoids. (see study below) (9)
- Study of essential oil yielded 20 compounds. The major constituents were hexadecanoic acid methyl ester 11.04%, 11-methyltetracosane 8.44%, n-docosane 7.66%, α-pinene 7.26%, octadecanoic acid methyl ester 6.37%, eicosanoic acid methyl ester 6.16%, ctadecanoic acid ethyl ester 5.69%, geranic acid 5.60%, methyl tetradecanoate 5.27%, ß-pinene 4.60%. (15)
- Phytochemical screening of extracts and fractions yielded alkaloids, steroids, tannins, terpenoids. (15)

- Studies suggest anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, antidiabetic, membrane stabilizing, hair growth-promoting, CNS depressant, anti-malarial properties.

• No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• In southwestern Nigeria, used for diabetes and leukemia.
• Used to treat malaria, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.
• Used to promote hair growth.
* In Colombia, decoction of entire plant use for kidney stones.
• Leaf and stem extract of R equisetiformis used as ingredient in cosmetic products.

Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial effect of a methanolic extract was noted on S. aureus, S. albus, S. typhi, P. aeruginosa and K. edwardsiella. The effect was attributed to triterpenes in the extract. (1)
Diabetes / Leukemia:
Phytochemical Screening of Cnidoscolus Aconitifolius and Russelia Equisetiformis Used for the Treatment of Diabetes and Leukemia. (2)
Results of study of whole plant extracts effect of Russelia equisetiformis confirmed the traditional uses of RE in the treatment of inflammation and pain. (3)
Antiinflammatory / Analgesic:
In a study of the methanolic extract of E equisetiformis in rats and mice using carrageenan-induced rat paw edema, acetic acid-induced writhing and tail-flick testing, results suggested that the extract possesses potential anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. (4)
Hair-Growth Promoting Effect:
Topical application of the methanol extract of the whole plant of R equisetiformis on a known diameter of shaved area of the back of albino wistar rats produced a significant increase in the rate of hair growth. The hair growth promoting potential is attributed to the presence of triterpenes and flavonoids in the plant extracts. (5)
Membrane Stabilizing Activity:
Study showed the aqueous-ethanol extract of R equisetiformis possess membrane stabilizing activity in a concentration-dependent manner as evidenced by significant changes of membrane stabilization of RBC exposed to heat stress-induced hemolysis. (6)
Hepatic Function Impairment:
Methanol and aqueous extracts of Rusellia equisetiformis were evaluated for effects on hepatic functions. Results showed impairment of liver function with a dose-dependent elevation of enzymes ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, with a significant reduction in serum protein. The effects were more pronounced with the methanol extract. (8)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Cytotoxicity: Study of extract and fractions showed significant antioxidant potential using a DPPH scavenging and linoleic acid oxidation assays. Extracts and fractions also showed antimicrobial activity against selected bacterial and fungal strains. On cytotoxicity testing by hemolytic assay, results showed minor cytotoxicity as percentage lysis of RBCs below 5.0%. (9)
CNS Depressant Activity: Study evaluated crude methanol extracts and fractions of R equisetiformis in mice using amphetamine-induced stereotypy, picrotoxin-induced convulsion and phenobarbitone sleeping time. Results showed central nervous system depressant activities. (10)
Anti-Inflammatory: Study isolated lupeol. The lupeol extract showed significant and dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity in acute and chronic models of inflammation viz egg albumin-induced paw edema, formaldehyde–induced arthritis and cotton pellet granuloma in-vivo tests. Prednisolone was used standard drug. (11)
Anticonvulsant: Study of methanol extracts of RE for anticonvulsant activity using picrotoxin (PCT) showed significant protective activity against picrotoxin, probably through GABAergic neurotransmission, and/or facilitating GABAergic actio in the brain. Results suggest a potential use as supplementary therapy for management and/or control of childhood convulsions and epilepsy. (12)
Antimalarial / Plasmodium berghei:
Study evaluated the antiplasmodial potential of ethanol extract of Russelia equisetiformis in chloroquine Plasmodium infected mice. Results showed an antimalarial effect with a significant decrease in parasitaemia (p<0.05). Plant extract was devoid of toxicity at highest tested dose of 5000 mg/kg. (13)


Last Update June 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on Antibacterial properties of Russelia equisetiformis (Schlect & Cham) Scrophulariacae
Phytochemical Screening of Cnidoscolus Aconitifolius and Russelia Equisetiformis Used for the Treatment of Diabetes and Leukemia in Southwestern Nigeria. Frederick O. Oladeinde, PhD / African Healing Wisdom: From Tradition to Current Application and Research
Antinociceptive effect of Russelia equisetiformis leave extracts: Identification of its active constituents / E Awe et al / International journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology / 2008-Apr; vol 15 (issue 4) : pp 301-5
Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the extract of Russelia equisetiformis
/ E O Awe et al / Inflammopharmacology • Volume 12, Number 4 / December, 2004 / DOI 10.1163/1568560043696245
The hair growth promoting effect of Russelia equisetiformis (Schclect&Chan) / Awe E O et al / Journal of Natural Products • Volume 2 (2009)

Membrane stabilizing activity of Russelia equisetiformis, Schlecht & Chan / Awe, E.O, et al., /Journal of Natural Products, Vol. 2(2009):03-09
Russelia equisetiformis Schltdl. & Cham. is an accepted name / The Plant List
Effects of Russelia equisetiformis methanol and aqueous extracts on hepatic function indices
/ *OT Kolawole, SO Kolawole / Biology and Medicine, 2 (3): 38-41, 2010
Antioxidant, antimicrobial and cytotoxicity studies of Russelia equisetiformis / Muhammad Riaz, Nasir Rasool*, Iftikhar Hussain Bukhari, Muhammad Shahid, Ameer Fawad Zahoor, Mazhar Amjad Gilani and Muhammad Zubair / African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol. 6(27), pp. 5700-5707, 19 July, 2012 / DOI: 10.5897/AJMR12.800
Central nervous system depressant activity of Russelia equisetiformis / Kolawole O T et al / Nigerian journal of physiological sciences / 2007 Jun-Dec; vol 22 (issue 1-2) : pp 59-63
Anti-inflammatory activity of Russelia equisetiformis Schlecht & Cham: identification of its active constituent / Awe Emmanuel Olorunju, Adeloye Adewale, Makinde Janet Modupe. / J Intercult Ethnopharmacol. 2012; 1(1): 25-29 / doi: 10.5455/jice.20120401054556
Evaluation of the anticonvulsant property of Russelia equisetiformis (Schlecht & Chan)
/ Awe O. Emmanuel*, Makinde M. Janet, Ayoka A.O. /JOURNAL OF NATURAL REMEDIES, Vol. 10/1 (2010) 74 - 80
In vivo Antimalarial Activities of Russelia Equisetiformis in Plasmodium Berghei Infected Mice / O. Ojurongbe,* J. A. Ojo, D. I. Adefokun, O. O. Abiodun, G. Odewale, and E. O. Awe / Indian J Pharm Sci. 2015 Jul-Aug; 77(4): 504–510
Folk medicine in the northern coast of Colombia: an overview / Harold Gómez-EstradaEmail author, Fredyc Díaz-Castillo, Luís Franco-Ospina, Jairo Mercado-Camargo, Jaime Guzmán-Ledezma, José Domingo Medina and Ricardo Gaitán-Ibarra / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 20117:27 / DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-7-27

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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