Queen's Delight

Scientific Name(s): Stillingia sylvatica Garden ex L. Family: Euphorbiaceae (spurges)

Common Name(s): Stillingia , queen's delight , queen's root , silverleaf , nettle potato , yaw-root , marcory , cockup-hat , Indian flea root

Uses

With the exception of prostratin, the other Stillingia factors are likely to be tumor promoters and to possess the typical pleiotropic effects possessed by most other phorbol esters.

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for queen's delight. Classical use of queen's delight called for 2 g of the root, however the documented presence of irritant and tumor-promoting phorbol esters in this plant contraindicates therapeutic use.

Contraindications

No longer considered safe.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Not to be used while nursing. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Do not ingest or use topically in human medicine. Observe particular caution with the fresh root, which appears to be more toxic than the dried product. Stillingia root is a purgative and irritant product that should be avoided because of a high likelihood of tumor promotion and documented severe irritancy to skin.

Toxicology

There are reports of sheep poisoned by Stillingia in Florida. Because of the reported phorbol esters, this plant should not be ingested or used topically in human medicine. Observe particular caution with the fresh root, which appears to be more toxic than the dried product.

Botany

Queen's delight is a perennial herb that grows in the sandy soils of pine barrens from Texas and Oklahoma east to Virginia and Florida. When broken, the stems exude an acrid white sap, as do many spurges. The small yellowish flowers are borne on a terminal spike, with the few female flowers at the base below the more numerous male flowers. The three-chambered seedpod forcibly ejects the ripe seed. The rootstock and rhizome are large and woody. The scientific name honors the English botanist A.B. Stillingfleet. The genus was monographed in 1951. 1 Oil of stillingia is a fixed oil derived from the Chinese tree Sapium sebiferum , which was formerly classified as a species of Stillingia . 2

History

American Indians used the root to repel fleas; Creek Indian women were reported to consume the boiled, mashed roots after giving birth. 3 , 4 The root was used in the southern United States for constipation, as a purgative, and to treat syphilis and liver, skin, and lung diseases. 4 The dried root is considered to be less toxic than the fresh root. Stillingia was used by the Eclectic medical movement and is an optional ingredient in the controversial Hoxsey cancer formula. 5 , 6 It has also been used in homeopathy.

Chemistry

Only 1 modern chemistry study of the plant has been published in which a series of 8 daphnane and tigliane phorbol esters were isolated based on their irritancy to mouse ear. 7 Six of these compounds were novel, while prostratin and gnidilatidin were previously isolated from other plants. No report of their possible tumor promoting properties was made, although it should be noted that prostratin was found in another study to antagonize TPA-mediated tumor promotion in a classical Berenblum experiment. 8

Positive alkaloid tests have been reported, but have never been substantiated by elucidation of the proposed alkaloid “stillingine.” 9 A number of 19th century studies were published on analysis of Stillingia root, 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 while the plant has been largely ignored recently, even though it remained in the National Formulary until 1947. 14 A related species of Stillingia was reported to be cyanogenetic; however, this has not been confirmed. 15

Uses and Pharmacology

No pharmacologic studies have been reported on the plant or its extracts. With the exception of prostratin, the other Stillingia factors are likely to be tumor promoters and to possess the typical pleiotropic effects possessed by most other phorbol esters. The observation of purgative properties would place this plant in league with croton oil, although it is perhaps less potent.

Animal/Clinical data

Research reveals no animal/clinical data regarding the use of stillingia for any condition.

Dosage

There is no clinical evidence to support specific dosage recommendations for queen's delight. Classical use of queen's delight called for 2 g of the root, however the documented presence of irritant and tumor-promoting phorbol esters in this plant contraindicates therapeutic use.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Not to be used while nursing. 16 Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Do not ingest or use topically in human medicine. Observe particular caution with the fresh root, which appears to be more toxic than the dried product. Stillingia root is a purgative and irritant product that should be avoided because of a high likelihood of tumor promotion and documented severe irritancy to skin.

Toxicology

There are reports of sheep poisoned by Stillingia in Florida. 17 Because of the reported phorbol esters, 7 this plant should not be ingested or used topically in human medicine. Observe particular caution with the fresh root, which appears to be more toxic than the dried product.

Bibliography

1. Rogers DJ. A revision of Stillingia in the New World. Ann Mo Bot Gard 1951;38:207-259.
2. Aitzmetmuller K, et al. High-performance liquid chromatographic investigations of stillingia oil. J Chromatogr 1992;603:165-173.
3. Altschul SvR. Drugs and Foods from Little-known Plants . Notes in Harvard University Herbaria, 1977:165.
4. Krochmal A, et al. A Guide to the Medicinal Plants of the United States . New York: Quadrangle, 1973:211.
5. Spain PW. History of Hoxsey treatment. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients . http://www.tldp.com/
6. Hartwell J. Plants Used Against Cancer. A Survey. Lawrence, MA: Quarterman Publications,1982:206.
7. Adolf W, et al. New irritant diterpene esters from roots of Stillingia sylvatica L. (Euphorbiaceae). Tetrahedron Lett 1980;21:2887-2890.
8. Szallasi Z, et al. Nonpromoting 12-deoxyphorbol 13-esters inhibit phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate induced tumor promotion in CD-1 mouse skin. Cancer Res 1993;53:2507-2512.
9. Miller ER, et al. Stillingia sylvatica . J Am Pharm Assoc 1915;4:445-448.
10. Harmanson JH. The root of Stillingia sylvatica . Am J Pharm 1882;386-387.
11. Saunders W. On the so-called oil of Stillingia . Am J Pharm 1868;41:149-151.
12. Bichy W. Analysis of the root of Stillingia sylvatica , Lin. Am J Pharm 1885;57:529-531.
13. Frost HR. Art. LXI. Stillingia sylvatica , or Queen's delight. Am J Pharm 1848;20:304-308.
14. Youngken HW, et al. Studies of National Formulary drugs. Stillingia . J Am Pharm Assoc 1939;28:24-28.
15. Moran EA, et al. Some new cyanogenetic plants. J Wash Acad Sci 1940;30:237-239.
16. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1997.
17. Hocking GM. A Dictionary of Natural Products . Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, 1997:757, 902.

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