Scientific Name(s): Dichroa febrifuga Lour
Common Name(s): Basak, Big golden sword, British Indian, Ch'ang shan, Chi-fen ts'ao, Chi-ku ch'ang-shan, Chi-ku feng, Chicken-bone alum root, Chicken-droppings grass, Chinese quinine, Dichroa root, Huang ch'ang-shan, Native alum root, Pai ch'ang-shan, T'u ch'ang-shan, Ta chin-tao, Thuong son, White alum root, Yellow alum root
Dichroa root comes from a deciduous shrub that prefers damp areas such as wooded valleys or stream edges. The roots and leaves are used medicinally. The plant bears light-blue flowers and blue-colored berries.Doctor's Manual 1977
rIn China, dichroa root has been used to treat malaria for many centuries.Hocking 1977, Takaya 1999 One of the earliest records of plants used as medicine includes dichroa root.Taylor 1981 In his book Flora Cochinchinensis (published in 1790), Portuguese Jesuit João de Loureiro described the febrifugal (ie, mitigating fever) and emetic properties of ch’ang shan and provided the scientific name Dichroa febrifuga.Burns 2008 Chinese scholar/emperor Shen Nung (circa 2735 BC) recorded the plant's effectiveness in treating fever caused by malaria parasites.Burger 1999
Alkaloid febrifugine and its isomer isofebrifugine were isolated during World War II in order to study their effects against malaria.Hocking 1977, Takaya 1999 Febrifugine is the main alkaloidal constituent present.Murata 1999 Halofuginone and haloguinol are synthetic derivatives of dichroa root. Halofuginone, along with other febrifugine analogues, was developed in the 1960s for antimalarial evaluation.McLaughlin 2014
Uses and Pharmacology
With drug resistance from medications such as chloroquine and quinine becoming prevalent, researchers have sought other antimalarial sources. Isolates of D. febrifuga, febrifugine and isofebrifugine, were found to be the active components against malaria; however, chemists could not separate adverse effects (eg, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) from their beneficial actions.Burger 1999, Zeng 1982, Zhao 1986, Zhu 2012 Febrifugine exerts its antimalarial effects by impairing the haemazoin formation needed for parasite maturation at the trophozoite stage. Various analogues have been synthesized in an effort to minimize adverse effects and enhance bioavailability; some of these compounds have therapeutic indices greater than 10 times that of chloroquine.McLaughlin 2014, Zhu 2009 One study suggested that increased lipophilicity of the analogues was associated with improved antimalarial activity.Doctor's Manual 1977, Zhu 2012
Animal and in vitro data
Febrifugine and isofebrifugine in certain preparations (eg, acetone extract) demonstrated high antimalarial activity against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodiumberghei.Takaya 1999 In a study evaluating the effects of an aqueous extract of D. febrifuga against P. berghei in mice, a reduction in infection rate and an increase in mean survival time were observed.Gopal 1982.Two reports suggest that dichroa extracts alter nitric oxide (NO) concentrations. In mice infected with P. berghei, febrifugine 1 mg/kg/day orally reduced mortality and parasitemia, and increased NO production and plasma concentration, thus contributing to host defense against malaria infection.Murata 1999 In an in vivo study, febrifugine significantly enhanced NO production in mouse peritoneal macrophages, with dose-dependent activations.Murata 1998 However, another study investigating the effects of an aqueous extract of D. febrifuga root demonstrated a decrease in NO production as well as tumor necrosis factor, which plays a role in endotoxin-mediated shock and inflammation. In mouse macrophages, NO synthase and NO serum levels were decreased, suggesting suppression of inflammatory response and possible use as an anti-inflammatory.Kim 2000
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of dichroa root for malaria.
Changrolin, a Chinese antiarrhythmic drug derived from dichroa, has been studied for its antiarrhythmic effects in small mammal cardiac cells.Chen 2010, Lu 1995 In a study testing synthetic febrifugine analogues, cytotoxic effects against cancer cells lines (KB, MCF7, LU1, and HepG2) were observed.Mai 2014 In vitro testing demonstrated potential tumoricidal properties associated with dichroa root.Mazzio 2009
In one study, febrifugine analogues exerted activity against Leishmania donovani parasites.Pandey 2017 In a study using rat liver, an aqueous extract of D. febrifuga root regulated inflammation-related proteins, suggesting a potential role in the management of inflammation.Choi 2003 Similarly, in another study in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages, the aqueous. extract exerted anti-inflammatory effects via inhibition of interleukin (IL)-1beta and IL-6 production in a dose-dependent manner. D. febrifuga did not decrease the viability of the cells.Park 2009
There are no recent clinical studies of dichroa root to provide dosing recommendations.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Information regarding toxicity with use of dichroa root is lacking.
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