- Acanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Acanthaceae. The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, rarely subshrubs, with spiny leaves and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers. (2)
- The plant is nectar producing and susceptible to predation by butterflies and other nectar feeding organisms.
- Often confused with Acanthus ilicifolius
- Etymology: The genus name Acanthus derives from Greek "akantha" meaning "thorn or prickle"; the species epithet derives from Latin
"ebracteatus" meaning "without bracts."
Acanthus ebracteatus is an erect, spreading or scrambling shrub with many decumbent stems, growing up to 2 m tall. Tap root system stays close to the soil surface. Leaves are opposite; stalked leaf blades are oblong to oval, toothed, deeply lobed with spine tips along the leaf margin, shiny dark green above and dark green below, 7.5-20 by 2.5-6.5 cm. Stems are hollow and erect. Flowers are in flowering spikes, 8-15 cm long; petals are blue, purple, or white turning brown with age. Fruits are square-shaped or oblong, slightly flattened, green to dark green, 2-3 by 1 cm, containing four off-white, large, flat seeds, which are projected up to two meters from the plant when the ripe fruit explodes. (3) (4)
- Native to the Philippines.
- Found in Guimaras, Leyte, Quezon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Panay.
- Along tidal streams, inland borders of mangroves within the influence of salt or brackish water.
Also native to the Andaman Is, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Java, Lesser Sunda Is, Malay Peninsula, Myanmar, New Gu9inea, Solomon Is, Thailand, Vietnam.
- Phytochemical studies have revealed the presence of alipathic alcohol, alipathic glycosides, phenolic glycosides, terpenes, megastigmane glycosides, flavonoids, and lignan glycosides. (7)
UPLC-ESI-QTOF/MS analysis of AEL-sed and AEWP-sed identified bioactive compounds including flavonoids, phenols, iridoids, and nucleosides. (see study below) (7)
- Study of aerial parts isolated a megastigmane glycoside, ebracteatoside A, three alipathic alcohol glycosides (ebracteatosides B-D), as well as 7-chloro-(2R)-2-O-ß-D-glucopyranosyl-4-hydroxy-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one (7-Cl-DIBOA-Glc), together with 22 known compounds.
- Studies have shown wound healing, neuronal cell protective, antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, anti-hair loss, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor angiogenesis properties.
Leaves, stems, roots, seeds.
- In Thailand, leaves used for making herbal tea.
- In the Philippines, decoction of leaves and roots used for treatment of asthma. Roots with boiled milk used for treatment of leucorrhea. (5)
Plant decoction drunk to treat kidney stones. Leaf juice used as hair preserver; also to relieve rheumatism. Stems and roots used to treat skin diseases. Boiled seeds drunk or used as poultice for boils. (3)
- In India, whole plant used as astringent, expectorant, and stimulant. Roots used as cough remedy. Tenser shoots and leaves used as snake-bite treatment. (5)
- In China, stem and roots used for coughs, chronic fever, paralysis, asthma, hepatomegaly, hepatitis, and lymphoma.
- In Malaysia, leaves and boiled seeds used as cough medicine. Seeds used for deworming children. Leaf juice used for preventing hair loss. Roots used to treat snake bites and herpes zoster. Fruit pulp used to poultice snake-bite wounds. (5)
- In Indonesia, root poultice used for wound healing. Roots mixed with ground ginger used to treat flatulence and colic disease. (5)
- In Myanmar, Shoots used for treatment of snake bites. Leaves used for rheumatism. (5)
- In Vietnam, whole plant used as diuretic; root used to treat paralysis. (5)
- In Thailand, boiled whole plant used as bath to treat rash and skin diseases. Poultice of fresh plant applied as poultice on boils or taken orally as depurative. Fruits eaten to ease menstrual disorders. (5) In traditional Thai medicine, used for treatment of cancer, inflammatory conditions and skin diseases. (14)
- Decoction of boiled leaves mixed with flowers of Averrhoa spp., cinnamon, and sugar cane used as cough medicine.
• Promotion of Wound Closure / Combination with Collagen Scaffold: Study evaluated the effect of combined application of A. ebracteatus and a collagen scaffold on wound healing and angiogenesis in Balb/c mice with full-thickness incision wound. Results showed the combination of the plant extract with collagen showed best effect on skin angiogenesis and promoted wound closure with less neutrophil infiltration. (5)
• Neuronal Cell Protection against Glutammate-Induced Oxidative Stress / Leaves: Study evaluated the protective effect of A. ebracteatus leaf extract against glutamate-induced oxidative damage in mouse hippocampal HT22 cells, a neurodegenerative model system due to a reduction in glutathione levels and an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS). Results showed the AE leaf extract in capable of attenuating intracellular ROS generation and HT22 cell death induced by glutamate in a concentration dependent manner. Co-treatment of glutamate with the extract significantly reduced apoptotic cell death via inhibition of AIF nuclear translocation. There was significant increases in Nrf2 levels in nucleus and gene expression levels of antioxidant-related downstream genes under Nrf2 control. Results showed neuroprotective activity and potential for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress. (6)
• Antioxidant / Antibacterial / Anticancer / Leaves: Study evaluated leaves and stem/root extracts of AE for antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer activity. The leaf extract showed highest antioxidant activity by FRAP, ORAC, MCA, EDTA, ABTS, DPPH 498.8 µmol TE/g, TPC 140.50 mg/GAE g and TFC 110.40 mg/CE g. The AEL-sed also showed highest bacteriostatic (MIC) and bactericidal (MBC) effects, as well as highest anticancer and antiproliferative activity against oral squamous carcinoma (CLS-354/WT) cells (7)
• Potential for Treatment of Hair Loss / Verbascoside: Study evaluated the effect of AE extract and verbascoside (VB), a biomarker of AE extract for their effects on dermal papilla cell viability and cell cycle using MTT assay and flow cytometry. Effect of an anti-inflammatory activity of AE extract and VB on IL-1ß, NO, and TNF-α, released from LPS-induced RAW 264.7 cells, and IL-1α and IL-6 released from irradiated dermal papilla cells were detected using ELISA. There was induced dermal papilla cell proliferation evidenced by increase in number of cells in the S and G2/M phases if cell cycle. The extract also decreased release of IL-1ß- TNF-α and NO from RAW 264.7 cells and IL-1α and IL-6 from dermal papilla cells. Results suggest promising ingredients for anti-hair loss preparations. (9)
• Potential for Treatment of Hair Loss / Verbascoside: Previous study of aqueous root extract exhibited immunostimulatory effect on macrophage cells in vitro. Study evaluated the stimulatory effect of AE extract on macrophage function in cyclophosphamide (CTX)-induced immunosuppressive BABB/c mice. Results of 14-day pretreatment showed markedly enhanced phagocytic activity of peritoneal macropahges and affected hematological profiles especially of WBC and platelet counts, as well as serum levels of come cytokines in CTX-immunosuppressive mice. Results showed a stimulatory effect on innate immunity through macrophage activations in vitro and in vivo, and suggest potential therapeutic uses in regulating immune dysfunction diseases. (10)
• Potential for Treatment of Hair Loss / Verbascoside: A common condition in older persons is xerosis cutis (abnormally dry skin). Coccinia grandis, Clerodendrum inerme and Acanthus ebractearus are used to treat skin conditions in Thai medicine. Study investigated their antimicrobial, antioxidant, and synergistic properties as well as cytotoxicity. Ethanolic herbal extracts were used for MIC and MBC assays on common skin pathogens. All the extracts showed inhibitory effect on growth of all microorganisms tested. E. ebracteatus marked demonstrated bactericidal activity against methicillin-resistant S. aureus strain. All extracts possessed antioxidant properties with IC50s 0.12-0.25 mg/L. Cell viability studies confirmed the extracts were not cytotoxic. Antagonism was noted with paired extract combinations. Early findings of pharmacological activities support a novel choice of herbal combinations as potential local skin treatment for xerosis cutis. (11)
• Antimicrobial / Potential for Skin Infections: Study evaluated AE aqueous extract for antimicrobial activity using agar diffusion method. The extract showed inhibitory effect on growth of S. aureus ATCC 25923, S. epidermis ATCC 12228, L. plantarum ATCC 14917, K. pneumonia ATCC 10031 and P. vulgaris ARCC 13315, with MICs and MBCs in the range of 1-2 and 2-4 g/l respectively. Results showed good antimicrobial activity against nosocomial pathogens and skin infection bacteria at low concentrations. (12)
• Antimicrobial / Potential for Skin Infections / Pilot Study: Use of appropriate cleansers to enhance skin hydration is an adjunctive treatment that increases topical drug penetration. A pilot study evaluated the efficacy of herbal cleanser containing a combination of herbal extracts from Acanthus ebracteatus, Suregada multiflora, and Acacia concinna on intact skin in patients with atopic dermatitis by measuring improvements in skin barrier function. Compared to baseline, the median percentage change in TEWL (transepidermal water loss) at the end of the study was significantly greater for the active side than control. Results suggest the cleanser is beneficial when used as adjunctive therapy. (13)
• Anti-Epidermoid Cancer Activity / Aerial Parts: Study evaluated the anti-cancer activity of E. ebracteatus protein hydrolysates against epidermoid cancer of the skin cell line A431. A. ebracteatus protein hydrolysate significantly inhibited A431 cells with half inhibition concentration equals to 425.9 ng protein/ml. By Annexin V assay, the partially purified peptides enhanced the apoptosis pathway. Results demonstrated the partially purified peptide FR1 from aerial parts possessed anti-epidermoid cancer activity by induction of apoptosis via downregulation of RelA (p65) protein expression resulting in decreased cyclin D1 expression and upregulation of p53. Study suggests FR1 has potential for development as a therapeutic mechanism against anti-non-melanoma skin cancer. (14)
• Effects on Tumor Angiogenesis in Cervical Cancer: Study evaluated the effects of crude extract of AE on tumor growth and angiogenesis in a tumor model in nude mice implanted with cervical cancer cells containing human papillomavirus 16 DNA (HPV-16 DNA). High-dose treatment of AE extract significantly attenuated the increase in VEGF expression and tumor angiogenesis. Results showed the AE crude extract could inhibit cervical cancer growth, VEGF expression, and angiogenesis in a CaSki-cell transplant model in mice. (15)
• Skin Clay Mask Product Mixed with A. ebracteatus: Study evaluated the development of innovative clay mask mixed with Acanthus ebracteatus extract product and the extract's antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory effect, antimicrobial effect and total phenolic contents on a group of 10 volunteers. Results showed no sign of allergic reaction, itching, or irritation. Toxicity tests found no cytotoxicity. Results showed potent anti-inflammatory effects when tested in RAW 264.7 macrophage cell. (16)
- Capsule supplements in the cybermarket.