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Guinea Hen Weed

Scientific Name(s): Petiveria alliaceae.
Common Name(s): Anamu, Apacin, Guine, Guinea hen weed, Mucura, Tipi

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 1, 2019.

Clinical Overview

Use

Guinea hen weed plant extracts are used for anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogic, analgesic, antileukemic, antirheumatic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, and depurative purposes. Due to its activity on the CNS, P. alliaceae is also used as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anesthetic, and sedative. However, there are no clinical trials to support these uses.

Dosing

Little clinical data are available to provide dosing recommendations in humans.

Contraindications

Data are limited. Use in pregnancy is contraindicated. Caution is advised in patients with blood disorders and in patients with hypoglycemia and diabetes.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy of P. alliaceae in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Methanol extracts of anamu can cause uterine contractions, which can lead to abortion.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Potential adverse reactions of P. alliaceae are unknown; no adverse reactions have been reported.

Toxicology

There are no data regarding toxicity in humans.

Scientific Family

  • Phytolaccaceae

Botany

P. alliaceaeis a perennial herbaceous or shrubby plant that grows 5 cm to 1.5 m in height.1, 2 The roots are fusiform, the stem is straight and rigid, and the branches are slender with longitudinal stripes. The simple leaves have an alternating phyllotaxy of elliptic and acuminate shape and an acute apex and base with a slightly wavy margin 7 to 12 cm long and 3 to 6 cm wide.2 P. alliaceae flowers are white, sessile, and bisexual with spikes or inflorescences. The cylindrical, achene-type fruits have longitudinal stripes and similar seed dimensions.1 The roots and leaves have a strong, garlic-like odor that taints the milk and meat of animals that graze on it.1

History

P. alliaceae is native to tropical regions of Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean islands.3

In South American folk medicine, P. alliaceae is speculated to have curative and mysterious properties. In Brazil, the plant has been used in religious ceremonies since the time of slavery. Due to its sedative properties and potential to alter brain function, female slaves also used preparations of P. alliaceae to seduce their masters or to protect themselves from harassment; thus the plant is popularly known as the "remedy to tame the master."1, 3 The plant has traditionally been used for the following conditions: edema, arthritis, malaria, rheumatism, poor memory, skin disorders, GI disorders, fever, cold, cough, influenza, respiratory and pulmonary infections, cancer, and diabetes. Throughout Central America, P. alliaceae has been used to relieve pain during childbirth and as an abortifacient.

Chemistry

The main compounds from P. alliaceae include lipids, flavonoids, and triterpenes. Sulphur compounds known as azufre derivatives are unique to this species.1 Dibenzyltrisulphide, originally thought to be a synthetic compound, was revealed to be a natural product when isolated as a viscous and pungent-smelling oil from Petiveria.4 Several flavonoids (eg, engeletin, astilbin, myricitrin) have been isolated. P. alliaceae root extract contains a large amount of coumarins.1, 5 Alkaloids (eg, trans-N-metil-4-methoxyproline, allantoin) have been found in the stem and leaves of the plant.6 The triterpenes isoarborinol and isoarborinol acetate have been isolated from the leaves, and babinervic acid and 3-epiilexgenin A have been isolated from the aerial parts of the plant.1 The root essential oil contains benzaldehyde, dibenzyl disulphide, trans-stilbene, and cinnamaldehyde.4

Uses and Pharmacology

Ethnobotanical studies show that various parts of the plant have been used therapeutically for diuretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antileukemic, antirheumatic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, and depurative purposes.1, 4 Due to its activity on the CNS, P. alliaceae is also used as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anaesthetic, and sedative.7

CNS effects

Animal data

P. alliaceae has been used for relief of pain, including headaches, toothaches, and leg pain.8 In a study evaluating the antinociceptive effects of the plant extracts in mice, intraperitoneal administration of all tested fractions of P. alliaceae at doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg attenuated neurogenic pain induced by chemical stimuli with acetic acid 0.6% (10 mL/kg).7 Myricitrin, a flavonoid glycoside found in P. alliaceae, is reported to have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties.1

Clinical data

Clinical data are lacking.

Anxiogenic/Anxiolytic activity

Animal data

A study evaluated the anxiolytic activity of a lyophilized hydroalcoholic extract of P. alliaceae (aerial parts) in male Wistar rats with acute, stress-induced gastric lesions. After administration of P. alliaceae extracts (200, 400, and 600 mg/kg orally), rats were evaluated using the elevated plus maze test. P. alliaceae extract at a dose of 600 mg/kg increased the percentage of open arm entries on the apparatus. However, it did not alter the percentage of time spent in the open arms or the number of entries to the enclosed arms of the elevated plus maze. Overall, these data indicate that P. alliaceae extract exerts a selective anxiolytic effect, with no effects on the spontaneous locomotor activity of the animals.9

In a study evaluating the antidepressant effect of P. alliaceae extract in female Swiss mice, single doses of P. alliaceae extracts (100 or 200 mg/kg orally and intraperitoneally) produced depressant-like effects, as indicated by the increased time of immobility when the mice were subjected to a forced swimming test.10

In another study, short-term administration of an aqueous crude extract of P. alliaceae roots (500, 1,000, and 2,000 mg/kg orally) reduced the spontaneous locomotor activity of male Swiss mice on open field test.11

Clinical data

Clinical data are lacking.

Anticonvulsant activity

Animal data

The anticonvulsant activity of P. alliaceae was evaluated in male Swiss mice administered an aqueous crude extract of P. alliaceae roots (500, 1,000, and 2,000 mg/kg orally), followed 30 minutes later by pentylenetetrazol (75 mg/kg intraperitoneally) or maximal transcorneal electroshock (rectangular pulses of 50 mA) to induce convulsive behavior.11 Animals pretreated with the high extract doses (1,000 and 2,000 mg/kg) showed an increase in convulsive thresholds and a decrease induration of convulsions compared with the control group.11

Clinical data

Clinical data are lacking.

Anti-inflammatory/Analgesic activity

Animal data

In a study evaluating the anti-inflammatory effects of the plant extracts in rats with pleurisy, oral administration of P. alliaceae root extract did not significantly reduce the total number of leukocytes at the doses tested. However, the highest dose of extract tested (43.9 mg/kg body weight) reduced the number of migrating neutrophils, mononuclear cells, and eosinophils; the dose of 31.4 mg/kg body weight also reduced mononuclear cell migration.12

In analgesia experiments, 3 groups of rats (n = 7 per group) received P. alliaceaeextract (31.4 mg/kg body weight), acetylsalicylic acid (100 mg/kg body weight), or agar 1% (control group) orally.12 Evaluation consisted of ascertaining the ability of the rat to support pressure applied to the posterior paw using a Ugo Basile analgesimeter. The analgesia coefficient was calculated for 60, 120, and 180 minutes after treatment. Compared with the prototype drug acetylsalicylic acid, the analgesic effect of the P. alliaceae extract was less potent but more sustained.12

Clinical data

Clinical data are lacking.

Anticancer activity

Animal data

Dibenzyl trisulphide is a mitogen-activated protein extracellular regulated kinase 1 and 2 signal transduction molecule that exhibits antiproliferative activity on a wide variety of cell lines. Cytotoxic activity of dibenzyl trisulphide is increased when bound to albumin.13

Clinical data

A small study conducted in patients with osteoarthritis did not show benefit with P. alliaceae compared with placebo.8

Dosing

Information is lacking to provide P. alliaceae dosing recommendations in humans.

Interactions

No studies have evaluated herb-herb interactions or herb-drug interactions with P. alliaceae.

Adverse Reactions

Potential adverse reactions of P. alliaceae are unknown; no adverse reactions have been reported.

Toxicology

In animal models of acute toxicity, mice exposed to high levels of crude aqueous extract of P. alliaceae root (single doses of 800 to 8,000 mg/kg) showed reduced locomotor activity. Mice treated with 8,000 mg/kg doses developed ataxia that was not fatal. In albino rats, a single 4,000 mg/kg dose of the dry crude extract of P. alliaceae leaves was not fatal or toxic after 14 days but produced alterations in leucocyte count, eosinophil differentials, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin values, and hematocrit, as well as signs of hepatic overload.14

References

1. Luz DA, Pinheiro AM, Silva ML, et al. Ethnobotany, phytochemistry and neuropharmacological effects of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae): A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;185:182-201.26944236
2. Duarte MR, Lopes JF. Leaf and stem morphoanatomy of Petiveria alliacea. Fitoterapia. 2005;76(7-8):599-607.16242265
3. Petiveria alliaceae. Raintree Tropical Plant Database. http://www.rain-tree.com/anamu.htm#.V02RcpMrKRs. Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed May 2016.
4. Kim S, Kubec R, Musah R. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of sulfur-containing compounds from Petiveria alliacea L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;104(1-2):188-192.16229980
5. Suarez LEC, Monache FD. 6-C-formyl and 6-C-hydroxymethyl flavanones from Petiveria alliacea. Phytochemistry. 1992;31(7):2481-2482.
6. De Sousa JR, Demuner AJ, Pinheiro JA, Breitmaier E, Cassels BK. Dibenzyl trisulphide and trans-N-methyl-4-methoxyproline from Petiveria alliacea. Phytochemistry. 1990;29(11):3653-3655.
7. Gomes PB, Oliveira MM, Nogueira CR, et al. Study of antinociceptive effect of isolated fractions from Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28(1):42-46.15635161
8. Ferraz MB, Pereira RB, Coelho Andrade LE, Atra E. The effectiveness of tipi in the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis—a preliminary report. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(suppl 2):241-243.1842010
9. Audi EA , Vieira de Campos EJ, Rufino M, et al. Petiveria alliacea L.: Plant drug quality control, hydroalcoholic extract standardization and pharmacological assay of lyophilized extract. Acta Farm Bonaer. 2001;20(3):225–232.
10. Gomes PB, Noronha EC, de Melo CT, et al. Central effects of isolated fractions from the root of Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;120(2):209-214.
11. de Lima TC, Morato GS, Takahashi RN. Evaluation of antinociceptive effect of Petiveria alliaceae (Guiné) in animals. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(suppl 2):153-158.1841991
12. Lopes-Martins RA, Pegoraro DH, Woisky R, Penna SC, Sertié JA. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of a crude extract of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae). Phytomedicine. 2002;9(3):245-248.12046866
13. Williams LA, Rosner H, Levy HG, Barton EN. A critical review of the therapeutic potential of dibenzyl trisulphide isolated from Petiveria alliacea L (guinea hen weed, anamu). West Indian Med J. 2007;56(1):17-21.17621839
14. Fontoura MCP, Silva SN, Abreu IC, Goncalves JRS, Borges MOR, Borges ACR. Effect of Petiveria alliacea L. in the intestinal secretion and motility of rodents. Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais. 2005;7(2):37-43.

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