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Family Asteraceae
Helianthus annuus
Zhang ju

Scientific names  Common names 
Helianthus annuus L. Mirasol (Tag., Span.) 
Helianthus aridus Rydb. Common sunflower (Engl.) 
Helianthus indicus L. Wild sunflower (Engl.) 
Helianthus jaegeri Heiser  
Helianthus lenticularis Douglas  
Helianthus macrocarpus DC.  
Helianthus macrocarpus DC. & A.DC.  
Helianthus multiflorus Hook.  
Helianthus ovatus Lehm.  
Helianthus platycephalus Cass.  
Helianthus tubaeformis Nutt.  
Helianthus annuus L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
ARABIC: Abbad esh shams.
CHINESE: Zhang ju, Xiang ri kui.
DANISH: Solsikke.
DUTCH: Zonnebloem.
ESTONIAN: Harilik päevalill, Päevalill.
FINNISH: Auringonkukka, Auringon ruusu, Isoauringonkukka.
FRENCH: Soleil, Tournesol.
GERMAN: Echte Sonnenblume, Sonnenblume.
HUNGARIAN: Napraforgó.
ITALIAN: Corona del sole, Girasole.
JAPANESE: Himawari, Koujitsuki.
KOREAN : Hae ba ra gi.
NORWEGIAN: Solsikke, Solvendel.
POLISH: Slonecznik roczny, Slonecznik zwyczajny.
RUSSIAN: Podsolnechnik. Podsolnechnik maslichnyi.
SLOVENIAN: Navadna sonènica.
SPANISH: Mirasol, Girasol.
SWEDISH: Solros.
TURKISH: Gune bakan.

Gen info
Name derives from the Greek work helios, meaning sun; and anthos, for flower.

Mirasol is a coarse, stout and erect annual plant, up to 1 to 3 meters high. Stems are straight, rarely branched. Leaves are opposite at the lower part of the stem, alternate above, ovate, rough, hairy, with toothed margins, long-stalked, 10 to 25 centimeters long. Lower leaves are somewhat heart-shaped. Flower heads are solitary or in clusters, up to 40 centimeters across. Disk flowers are yellow to brown, with tubular, 5-limbed corolla. Ray flowers are yellow and spreading. Involucral bracts are ovate or oblong.

- Introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish times.
- Cultivated for ornamental purposes and for its seeds.
- Profuse seasonal growth in certain places, like the Mountain Province.
- Planted in all warm countries.

- Plant contains an oleic acid and triacyl glycerol, alkaloids, cyanogenic glycosides, saponins, cardiac glycosides, tannins, fixed oils, phenolics.
- Oil contains 44-72% linoleic acid.
- Leaves contain a glucoside, C11H19N204.
- Flowers contain quercimeritrin, C21H20O12, a monoglucoside of quercetin; anthocyanin; and abundant amount of cholin and betain.
- Seeds contain 45 to 48 percent fixed oil.

- Aqueous and ethanol extracts yielded tannin+++, saponin+++, alkaloid+++, terpenoid++, flavonoid+++, glycoside+++, and phenolic compounds++ in varying concentrations. Quantitatively, study showed alkaloid 1.23%, glycosides 0.04%, saponin 1.46%, flavonoids 0.02%, terpenoids 0.64%, and phenolic compound 0.34%. (see study below) (20)

- Seed considered diuretic and expectorant.
- Seeds and flowers considered febrifuge and stomachic.
- Also considered as aphrodisiac, emollient, anti-malarial and anti-cancer.
- Studies suggest antimicrobial, antiasthma, anti-diabetic properties.

Parts used
Seeds, flowers, roots, bark.

- Flower, seed, stem.
- Seeds, raw or cooked; difficult to use because of small size.
- Roasted seed used as coffee or chocolate substitute.
- The oil is low in cholesterol, considered olive-oil quality and used for salads and cooking.
- Disk of the flower-head can be eaten like an artichoke.

- Boiled flower heads once used by Amerindians for pulmonary affections.
- Tea from flowers, dried or fresh leaves is used for facilitating expectoration, relieving coughs, colds.
- For whooping cough, an infusion of the brown seeds, drink the tea 4 to 5 times daily.
- For asthma, an infusion of the leaves.
- Decoction of seeds used as diuretic and expectorant; used for bronchial and pulmonary affections, coughs and colds.
- An infusion of oven-browned seeds used for whooping cough.
- For diabetes, tea from decocted roots (10 gms to half a glass of water).
- When flowers and leaves are mixed with oil, let stand for 5-10 days before using.
- Seeds are diuretic, used to increase the flow of urine.
- The bark (boiled) and flowers (steeped) used for fevers, 3- 4 tbsp 3-4 times daily.
- Poultice of leaves used for sores, insect bites and snake bites.
- Elsewhere, flower decoction used for malaria and lung problems.
- Tincture of flowers and leaves mixed with balsamics used for bronchiectasis.
- In China, seeds used for dysentery.
- Tincture prepared from seeds, rectified with wine, used for fevers and ague, in lieu of quinine.
- In Brazil, leaves used as substitute for Datura stramonium for treatment of asthma.
- Infusion of roots used for diabetes.
- Tincture of bark and flowers employed for intermittent fevers resistant to quinine.

- A purple dye is obtained from some varieties.
- Outer part of the stem has a little fiber, when freed from the pith can be made into paper.
- Used for making blotting paper.
- Dried stems and empty seed receptacles make excellent kindling.
- Seeds are used for bird food.
- Oil mixed with a drying oil (as linseed) to make soap, candles, varnishes, paint, etc.

Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants against some Gram positive, Gram negative and fungi: Study showed the methanol extracts of HA showed low activity against B subtilis and pronounced activity against Proteus vulgaris. (1)
Antiasthma: Study of the aqueous extract of Helianthus annuus seed on an in vivo anti-asthmatic model showed a decrease of CD4 cells, IL-4/IL-13 expression and IgE secretion levels in the lung. Results suggest the HAS extract has considerable potential in reducing asthma-like symptoms in a mouse model and suggests further purification of the extract to determine the factors responsible for antiasthmatic activity. (2)
Allergenic Potential / Occupational Allergy: Study showed that sunflower pollen has high allergenic potential, especially with close contact, as in workplace exposure which can result in impairment of lung function. (4)
Antioxidant: Study showed high antioxidant capacity in the aqueous extract of the sunflower seed and suggests a potential for preventing in vivo oxidative reactions involved in diseases, such as cancer. (5)
Antiglycative / Antioxidant / Cynarin / Diabetes Benefits: In a study of four edible sprouts in Chinese markets, the sunflower sprout H. annuus exhibited the strongest inhibitory effects against the formation of glycation end products. The antioxidant capacity of H. annuus was much stronger than the other samples. Study yielded cynarin (1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid), an active ingredient with a novel function of intervening against glycooxidation. Results suggest sunflower sprouts of H. annuus may have benefits as food supplement in diabetic patients. (8)
Antimicrobial / Mediated Gold Nanoparticles: Gold nanoparticles have become an important tool in the development of novel biological and chemical processes. Study showed H. annuus mediated gold nanoparticles could be an effective antimicrobial agent and present a potential alternative for the development of new antimicrobials for resistance problems. (9)
Effect of Caffeine on Growth: Study showed caffeine in its lower doses has a stimulatory effect on growth and yield while higher doses have inhibitory effect and reduce the growth. (10)
Antidiabetic / Seeds: Study of an ethanolic extract of seeds in STZ-induced T2 diabetic rats showed the potential antidiabetic property. Chlorogenic acid in seeds is reported to have an antidiabetic effect. (11)
Phytochelatins / Roots and Leaves: Study showed cadmium exposure induces the formation of phytochelatins in root tissues and leaves. Phytochelatins may play an important role in removing heavy metals from polluted environments and bioremediation. (12)
Antidiarrheal / Antihistamine / Leaves: Study evaluated ethanol extract of leaves of H. annuus for antidiarrheal activity using castor oil induced diarrhea and gastrointestinal transit model and antihistamine activity using histamine induced bronchoconstriction on guinea pigs and microshock model on rabbits. The extract showed remarkable antioxidant activity when compared to ascorbic acid. Results showed decrease in the severity of diarrhea and antihistaminic potential to treat allergic disorders. (14)
Sunflower Oil / Potential as Biodiesel: Sunflower oil is an important oil seed crop, a triglyceride derived from the seeds of sun flower. Study evaluated the physico-chemical properties of sunflower oil biodiesel blends 10% (B1O) and 20% (B2O). Blend B20 is found to be within the ASTM standard and could be used as alternative energy source as biodiesel. (15)
• Antioxidant from Sunflower Seeds: Study reports on the production of antioxidant from grinded, dehulled, and partially defatted sunflower seeds. Results suggest dephenolization of sunflower seeds could be economically convenient, not only as a useful antioxidant, but also as raw material for other uses. (16)
• Phytoremediation Potential: Study evaluated the phytoremediation potential of H. annuus in sewage-irrigated Indo-Gangetic alluvial soils. Results suggest H. annuus fulfills the necessary condition for efficiently increasing species bioaccumulation after soil treatment with humic acid in Cr-polluted sewage-irrigated soils through soil-plant rhizospheric processes. (17)
• Antioxidant / Seeds: Study evaluated the antioxidant capacity of striped sunflower seed cotyledon extracts in three differed in-vitro methods: FRAP, DPPH, and ORAC assays. In the three methods, the aqueous extract at 30 µg/ml showed higher antioxidant capacity value than the ethanolic extract. Results suggest intake of the seed may prevent in-vivo oxidative reactions responsible for the development of several diseases, such as cancer. (18)
• Phytoremediation Potential / Lead: Study reports on the potential of H. annuus for treating industrial waters contaminated with lead. The absorption and accumulation of lead without any major effect on normal growth of sunflower at 15 ppm concentration. Easy availability and high mass production presents a potential as phytoremediation agent for lead removal. (19)
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated B. alba and H. annuus for phytochemicals and antibacterial activity. Results showed antibacterial activity against the test organisms, with the ethanol extract showing strong activity than the water extracts. (see constituents above) (20)
• Analgesic / Seeds: Study evaluated a methanol extract of seeds of Helianthus annuus for analgesic activity in mice model using acetic acid induced writhing and hot plate methods. Results showed central and peripheral effects with significant (p<0.05) analgesic potential in acetic acid-induced writhing test and an increase (p<0.05) of latency period in the hot plate method. (21)
• Safety Assessment of Sunflower-Derived Ingredients for Cosmetic Use: Review of scientific literature and unpublished data for assessing safety of 12 H. annuus-derived ingredients use in cosmetics concluded that nine H. annuus (sunflower) seed- and flower-derived ingredients are safe as used in present cosmetics use and in concentrations described in the safety assessment. (22)

Cultivated for ornamental use.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated November 2017 / May 2016

Image Source: Digitally modified public domain image (Sunflower/Helianthus annuus / PublicDomainImage.com

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants against some Gram positive, Gram negative and fungi / Sanaa O Yagoub, Shami El Hai Al Safi et al /
Aqueous extract of the Helianthus annuus seed alleviates asthmatic symptoms in vivo / Jin-Chul Heo et al / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE 21: 57-61, 2008
Helianthus annuus / Sunflower / Plants For A Future
Sensitization to sunflower pollen and lung functions in sunflower processing workers / Atis S et al / DOI: 10.1046/j.0105-4538.2001.00001.x
Antioxidant capacity of the striped sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) seed extracts evaluated by three in vitro methods / Maria D L R Giada and Jorge Mancini-Filho / Summary International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition • 2009, Vol. 60, No. 5, Pages 395-401 / DOI 10.1080/09637480701755262
Helianthus annuus L. / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Sorting Helianthus names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Cynarin-rich sunflower (Helianthus annuus) sprouts possess both antiglycative and antioxidant activities. / Sun Z, Chen J, Ma J, Jiang Y, Wang M, Ren G, Chen F. / J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Mar 28;60(12):3260-5. Epub 2012 Mar 19.
Studies on the effect of caffeine on growth and yield parameters in Helianthus annuus L. variety Modern / T Khursheed, MYK Ansari, D Shahab* / Biology and Medicine, 1 (2): 56-60, 2009
Synthesis of phytochelatins in Helianthus annuus is enhanced by cadmium nitrate / FUSUN YUREKLI*, ZEHRA KUCUKBAY / Acta Bot. Croat. 62 (1), 21–25, 2003
Helianthus annuus / Synonyms / The Plant List
Evaluation of Helianthus annuus L. Leaves Extract for Antidiarrheal and Antihistaminic Activity / Dwivedi A. Sharma GN, Kaushik AY / Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm. 6(1), Jan-Feb 2015
STUDIES ON SUN FLOWER OIL [HELIANTHUS ANNUUS LINN] FOR ITS POTENTIAL USE AS BIODIESEL / Ariharan V N, Meena Devi Vn, Nagendra Prasad P, Parameswaran N K / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, Vol 9, Issue 1, Jan-Feb 2016
A first pilot study to produce a food antioxidant from sunflower seed shells (Helianthus annuus) / Antonio De Leonardis, Vincenzo Macciola, Nicoletta Di Dominico / European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology / DOI: 10.1002/ejlt.200401021
PHYTOREMEDIATION POTENTIAL OF HELIANTHUS ANNUUS L IN SEWAGE-IRRIGATED INDO-GANGETIC ALLUVIAL SOILS / Dinesh Mani, Bechan Sharma, Chitranjan Kumar, Niraj Pathak, & Shiv Balak / International Journal of Phytoremediation, Vol 14, Issue 3 (2012) / https://doi.org/10.1080/15226514.2010.498844
Antioxidant capacity of the striped sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) seed extracts evaluated by three in vitro methods / Maria D. L. R. Giada & Jorge Mancini-Filho / International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Vol 60, Issue 5 (2009)
PHYTOEXTRACTION OF LEAD FROM INDUSTRIAL EFFLUENTS BY SUNFLOWER (HELIANTHUS ANNUUS.L) / R. Usha*, A. Vasavi, K. Thishya, S. Jhansi Rani and P. Supraja / Rasayan J. Chem, Vol 4, No 1 (2011) pp 8-12
Phytochemical Screening and Antimicrobial Activity of Crude Extracts of Basella alba and Helianthus annuus on Selected Food Pathogens / Ibrahim TA, Ajongbolo JF, and Aladekoyi G / Research & Reviews: Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
In vivo Analgesic activity of methanolic extract of Helianthus annuus seeds / Rubab Tarannum Islam, Ahmed Tanjimul Islam, Mir Monir Hossain and Kishor Mazumder / International Current Pharmaceutical Journal, March 2016, 5(4): 38-40
Safety Assessment of Helianthus annuus (Sunflower)-Derived Ingredients as Used in Cosmetics / © Cosmetic Ingredient Review / Draft Final Report for Panel Review / 1620 L Street, NW, Suite 1200 " Washington, DC 20036-4702 " ph 202.331.0651 " fax 202.331.0088 " cirinfo@cir-safety.org / Distributed for Comment Only -- Do Not Cite or Quote

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