- For more than 1000 years, two Japanese red algae, Digenea simplex and Chondria armata, have been used in Japan as potent anthelmintics, for eliminating intestinal worms such as parasitic roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworms (Trichuris trichura) and tapeworms ( Taenia spp.). Two closely related compounds isolated from these red algae, kainic acid and domoic acid, are responsible for these anthelmintic effects. (8)
Kai-jin-so is a red alga, 5 to 10 centimeters long with rounded thallus, the branching irregular and dichotomous. Upper part of the plant is clothed with slender but stiff polysiphonous rumelli and often overgrown with various epiphytic algae. Color is purplish red turning greenish or grayish upon drying.
Common in the Batanes Islands, the east coast of Luzon and in Palawan
- Reported in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
- The seaweed grows chiefly on rocks or coral chips at a depth of 1.5 to 7 meters below the water level. Surface growth is not very abundant.
- Also reported in the southern part of Taiwan, the West Indies, in the Ryuku, in the southern part of Kyushu Island in Japan, and the Pratas Island in China.
- Active principle as been identified as kainic acid.
- L-a-kainic acid has a structure of Ls-arabo-2-carboxy-3-carboxymethyl-4-isoisopropenylpyrrolidine. (9)
- In Japan, kainic acid is derived from the seaweed, sold commercially as anthelmintic.
- Contains a kind of mucilage similar to agar-agar and related to arabin.
- In Japan, alga extract is called macnin.
- A Chinese study yielded algenic acid, a small amount of unidentified alkaloid, galactan, fucoidin and iodine.
- Study yielded sugar, uronic acids, sulfate, betaines, amino acids.
- An aqueous extract isolated seven Dragendorff-positive compounds. Two metabolites were assigned structures (R)-3-dimethylsulfonio-2-methoxypropanoate and (S)-2-acetamido-5-trimethylammoniopentanoate.
- Contains agar (10-15% of dry weight) and kainic acids. Of these, α-kainic acid is said to be anthelmintic, ten times stronger than santonin, a compound of the salt marsh plant Artemisia maritima. Another anthelmintic from Digenea simplex, α-allokainic acid, is only slightly effective. (10)
- Mineral composition (mg/100 mgDW) yielded sodium 1198±1.15, calcium 432±0.58, phosphorus 368±0.4, magnesium 398±.58, potassium 7744±1.40, lead 0.01±0.01, Na/K ratio0.15±0.03. (12)
- Amino acid composition (g/100g sample dry basis) yielded total non essential amino acids of 28.52 (alanine, arginine, aspartic, cyst4eine, glutamic, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine) and a total of essential amino acids of 40.78 ( histidine, isoleuciine, leucine, lysiine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, tryptophan). (12)
- Seaweed grows chiefly on rocks or coral chips at depth of 1.5 to 7 meters below water level.
Surface growth is not very abundant.
- Non toxic.
- Studies have suggest anthelmintic, antioxidant, antimicrobial
antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive properties.
- In China, used as both anthelmintic and as laxative for infants supposed to be infected with "womb poison."
- Used in the treatment of Ascaris and Oxyuris.
- In Japanese folk medicine, use to rid the body of intestinal worms.
- Helminal, according to the United States Dispensatory, is an extract derived from Digenea simplex.
• Chemical Composition / Antioxidant Activities: Study of three algal samples, including Digenea simplex, yielded sugars, uronic acids, sulfate, amino acids and small amounts of betaines. All three algal extracts showed antioxidant activities on lipoxygenase, DPPH and Ames testing.
• Kainic Acid: In 1953, an excitotoxic amino acid, kainic acid, was isolated from the seaweed, Kainin-sou (Makuri) in Japan. Kainin-sou has been used as anthelmintic in Japan. Kainic acid is a potent CNS stimulant, a prototype neuroexcitatory amino acid acting on specific kainate receptors, used for seizure induction in experimental animals. (4) Laboratory animals dosed with kainic acid developed seizures. This led to the discovery of AMPA-kainate receptors on motor neurons
• Celecoxib in Rat Brain after KA Administration: Kainic acid (Kainate, KA) is a minor amino acid found in Digenea simplex seaweed. Subcutaneous injection in rat induced limbic seizures. The KA-induced seizures in rat provide a model of centrally mediated, high level COX-2 induction. Study showed kainate's profound excitotoxic stimulus elicits selective high level production of PGE2 and PGF2a in the brain, accompanied by high level expression of COX-2 and PGE synthetase -- providing a model for evaluation of pharmacologic activity of inhibitors of enzymes in the PG biosynthetic pathway. (5)
• Anti-Inflammatory and Antinociceptive Polysaccharides: Study investigated the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of polysaccharide (PLS) fraction isolated from marine red algae Digenea simplex. Results showed dose-dependent reduction of carrageenan-induced edema, and inhibition of inflammation induced by dextran, histamine, serotonin, and bradykinin. The fraction inhibited neutrophil migration into both mouse paw and peritoneal cavity. Findings conclude PLS possess anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities and has a potential as an agent against inflammatory diseases. (6)
• Antimicrobial / Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of crude extracts of two species of marine red algae, Acanthophora spicifera and Digenea simplex against human pathogenic bacteria including 10 gram-positive, 10 gram-negative, and ten filamentous fungi using agar well diffusion method. Anti-inflammatory effect of the crude extract on inflamed liver cells was evaluated by measuring SOD, MDA, GSH, IL-6 and TNF-alpha in Wistar albino rats. Both species of marine algae showed highest zone of inhibition against Streptococcus agalactiae, gram-negative Acanthophra spicifera and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Digenea simplex showed maximum ZOI against Serratia marcescens. Both showed high ZOI against Geotricum candidum. All methanol extracts showed equally potent anti-inflammatory activity as evidenced by measured parameters relatively equal to normal control results. (11)
• Silver Nanopartifcles / Antifungal: Study reports on the biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles using the extracellular filtrate of the algae Digenea simplex. Further studies showed antifungal activity and potential biomedical application. (13)
- Dried and sold in Japanese and Chinese apothecaries.
- Tablets and extracts in the cybermarket.