Amaranthus spinosus

Synonyms

No documentation

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia Bayam Duri
English Spiny Amaranth, Thorny Amaranth, Pigweed, Spinach
French Amarante épineuse, épinard malabar, épinard piquant
Portugese Amaranto, bredo
Swahili Mchicha
Nepal Banlude [1]

 

General Information

Description

Amaranthus spinosus is believed to originate from lowland tropical South and Central America and was introduced into other warmer parts of the world. It often occurs as an invasive weed and is rarely cultivated. It is mostly found on roadsides and wastelands. This weed has a wide distribution including the United States of America, and all tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Southeast Asia. The rural populace of Nigeria consume this as a non-conventional leafy vegetable [2] especially during periods of drought. In Uganda, the ash of burnt A. spinosus plants is used as a tenderizer in cooking tough vegetables such as cowpea leaves and pigeon peas. The ash is also used as a vegetable salt and in southern Africa, it is used as a snuff, alone or with tobacco. Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. A red pigment obtained from the plant is used as a colouring in food and medicine .

A. spinosus grows annually as an erect, monoecious herb, up to 100-130cm tall, much branched; stem terete or obtusely angular, glabrous or slightly pubescent, green or variably suffused with purple . The leaves alternate and are simple without stipules; petiole is approximately as long as the leaf-blade; The blade shape is ovate-lanceolate to rhomboid, 3.5-11cm × 1-4.5cm, acute and often slightly decurrent at base, obtuse, rounded or slightly retuse and often short mucronate at apex, entire, glabrous or slightly pubescent on veins when young. The inflorescence consists of dense clusters, lower ones are axillary, higher ones often collected in an axillary and terminal spike which is often branched in its lower part; axillary clusters are usually armed with very sharp spines up to 2cm long. Its flowers are unisexual, solitary in the axil of a bract, subtended by 2 bracteoles; bracts and bracteoles scarious, mucronate from a broad base, shorter or as long as the perianth; male flowers are usually arranged in a terminal spike above the base of the inflorescence, green; tepals 5 or in male flowers often 3, free, subequal, ovate-oblong to oblong-spatulate, up to 2.5mm long, very convex, membranous, with transparent margins and green or purple median band; male flowers with 5 stamens about as long as tepals; female flowers with superior, oblong ovary, 1-celled, styles 2-3, ultimately recurved. The fruit is ovoid shaped with a short inflated neck below the style base, circumscissile a little below the middle or indehiscent. The seed is about 1mm in diameter, shiny, compressed, black or brownish-black in colour.

Plant Part Used

Root, Leaf, Seed,Tender shoot [27]

Chemical Constituents

A. spinosus contains 7-p-coumaroyl apigenin 4-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, a new coumaroyl flavone glycoside called spinoside, xylofuranosyl uracil, beta-D-ribofuranosyl adenine, beta-sitosterol glucoside, hydroxycinnamates, quercetin and kaempferol glycosides, betalains; betaxanthin, betacyanin; amaranthine and isoamaranthine, gomphrenin, betanin, b-sitosterol, stigmasterol, linoleic acid, 0.15%  rutin  and beta-carotene [3][4][5].

Nutritional value

The carbohydrate content is 1.16g/100g leaves, energy 27 kcal, moisture 91g, protein 4g, fat 0.6g, fibre 2.48g, ash 2.76g [6].

Mineral content

Iron (38.4mg/100g dry weight), calcium (968.7mg/100g dry weight), magnesium (912.4mg/100g dry weight), phosphorus (816.3mg/100g dry weight), manganese (6.8mg/100g dry weight), copper (1.2mg/100g dry weight), zinc (6.8mg/100g dry weight) (7).

Traditional Used:

The Chinese use A. spinosus as a traditional medicine to treat diabetes. The seed is used as a poultice for broken bones. It is used internally in the treatment of internal bleeding, diarrhoea and excessive menstruation. The root is known as an effective diuretic. In South-East Asia a decoction of the root is used to treat gonorrhoea and is also applied as an emmenagogue and antipyretic. The Nepalese and some tribes in India apply A. spinosus to induce abortion [1]. In Thai traditional medicine, A. spinosus is used to treat diarrhea  [8]. The root is also used for toothaches [9]. In many countries, including those in Africa, the bruised leaves are considered a good emollient and applied externally in cases of ulcerated mouths, eczema, burns, wounds, boils, earache and hemorrhoids.

The leaves are also used for gastroenteritis, gall bladder inflammation, absesses, colic menorrhagia, arthritis and for the treatment of snakebites [10]. The plant ash in a solution is used to wash sores. The plant sap is used as an eye wash to treat ophthalmia and convulsions in children. In Malaysia, A. spinosus is used as an expectorant and to relieve breathing in acute bronchitis. In mainland South-East Asia, it is also used as a sudorific, febrifuge, an antidote to snake poison, and as a galactagogue [11]. During the rainy season which is also malaria endemic season, A. spinosus bark decoction is taken in a volume of about one liter three times a day to ward off malaria [12].

The leaves of amaranthus spinosus was reported to be used to treat tuberculosis [25]. In Ladakh, the leaves are made into tea and taken twice daily for 7 to 8 days to promote kidney function [26].  The tender shoot of Amaranthus spinosus is used to promote the secretion of milk among nursing mothers [27]. The roots of the plant are used in India to treat indigestion [28].

Pre-Clinical Data

Pharmacology

Antiprotozoal activity

The dichloromethane extract of A. spinosus (2mg/mL) was moderately inhibitory to Blastocystis hominis, a common human protozoan [8]. The reference anti-protozoan agent, metronidazole (40µg/mL) killed 97% of the protozoan and inhibited all protozoan samples at concentrations of 1.25-20µg/mL [8].

Anti-inflammatory activity

The anti-inflammatory property of methanolic extract of A. spinosus leaves was studied in different animal models [10]. A. spinosus extract (25-100mg/kg) significantly inhibited carrageenan-induced rat paw edema and produced significant inhibition of acetic acid-induced increase in vascular permeability indicating that the extract has anti-inflammatory activity. In the cotton pellet granuloma test, rats were treated orally with the extract for 4 consecutive days after the subcutaneous implantation of a sterile pellet. The highest dose of the extract (100mg/kg) was able to significantly reduce the post-implantation weight of cotton pellets compared to controls indicating its effectiveness against acute inflammation. The extract (25-100mg/kg) elicited a significant reduction in castor oil-induced diarrhea [10].

Severe gastric erosion was seen in rats given the extract (50 and 100mg/kg) repeatedly for 4 days, which may reflect its ability to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. This was not seen in the controls or with a lower dose of the extract [25 mg/kg]. The extract (25-100mg/kg) also delayed castor oil-induced diarrhea in rats, which was postulated to reflect its prostaglandin synthesis inhibitory activity [10].

A. spinosus extract also exhibited a highly specific prostaglandin synthesis inhibitory activity in vitro in an anti-inflammatory model test system, indicating its anti-inflammatory properties [13].

Antioxidant activity

The antioxidant capacity of A. spinosus was studied in roadside plants which were postulated to be continuously exposed to the high levels of nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide from automobile emissions [14]A. spinosus was shown to possess a very good free radical scavenging system for combating air pollution through analysis of the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, ascorbate peroxidase, glutathione reductase and phenolic peroxidase activities [14].

Amaranthaceae plants contain betalain pigments which showed strong antioxidant activities by the DPPH assay [15]. Their EC50 values range from 3.4 to 8.4 µM. The antioxidant activity of A. spinosus extract may be due to its betalain content.

Antimalarial activity

The aqueous extract of A. spinosus bark obtained from mature stems was screened for antimalarial properties in mice inoculated with erythrocytes parasitized with Plasmodium berghei berghei [12]. The bark extract showed a dose-dependent antimalarial activity in a 4-day suppressive antimalarial assay using chloroquine as the reference antimalarial drug. ED50 valuesfor the antimalarial activities of the extract and chloroquine were 789.4 and 14.6 mg/kg, respectively [12].

Analgesic activity

Methanolic extract of A. spinosus leaves (25-100mg/kg) produced a dose-dependent decrease in acetic acid-induced writhing with the highest dose producing an effect (56.2% inhibition of writhing) which was comparable to that of 5 mg/kg indomethacin (58.4% inhibition of writhing) [10]. These doses of the extract also reduced the licking time at the late phase (20 minutes post formalin), not the early phase of the formalin-induced paw licking assay in mice. These results indicate that A. spinosus extract has analgesic activity. Positive results in the late phase of the formalin test indicate that the extract inhibited pain which was associated with inflammation.

Immuno-modulatory activity

The water extract of A. spinosus leaves showed immuno-modulatory effects by significantly stimulating splenocyte proliferation in primary splenocytes from female BALB/c mice [11]. The extract stimulated isolated B lymphocytes, not T lymphocytes, in a dose response manner. The water extract (1250µg/mL) elicited a much higher proliferation rate in bulk splenocytes than in isolated purified B and T cells, suggesting some sort of interaction between these cells. Thus, the immuno-stimulating effects of the water extract may lead to B lymphocyte activation which will subsequently, through secondary signaling, lead to T lymphocyte proliferation. A novel immuno-stimulatory protein (GF1) with a molecular weight of 313 kDa was obtained after sequential purification of the water extract. GF1, which was assumed to be a glycoprotein and was heat labile, had an immuno-stimulatory activity which was 309 times higher than that of the water extract [11].The phenolic and flavanoid contents of the plant showed significant cytokine secretion that might demonstrate immuno-modulatory activities via Th1/Th2 cytokines [24].

Antinociceptive activity

Amaranthus Spinosus has antinociceptive properties based on previous studies that shows its inhibitory effects on stimuli caused by chemical-induced nociceptive. Due to this, the plant acts on the peripheral and central system as an analgesic [21].

Hepatoprotective activity

The phytochemical constituents that are extracted from the plants showed inhibition of lipid peroxidation that contributes to antioxidant and hepatoprotective activities [22]. In addition, at increasing concentration used to treat rats with CCl4 toxicity, it can be seen improvement on the biochemical parameters. This indicates that Amaranthus spinosus possessed enzyme restoring ability due to its free scavenging radical activity [23].

Toxicities

The aqueous extract of the bark of A. spinosus has a relatively low toxicity LD50 value of 1450mg/kg [12].

A. spinosus was reportedly the culprit in cases of spontaneous poisoning of cattle in Brazil during a severe drought. Clinical signs appeared after 30 days in 11 out of 35 adult cows and 8 out of 20 yearling calves which were introduced into a 15 ha maize plantation heavily infested with A. spinosus. However, only one calf died within 3-7 days. The clinical signs were depression, anorexia, marked weight loss, foul-smelling diarrhea occasionally tinged with blood, and subcutaneous oedema. Subacute cases showed distended abdomens, the animals were reluctant to stand and walked with difficulty. Sloughing of the hooves occurred in some animals. The main post-mortem findings in 5 animals were moderately pale and swollen kidneys, perirenal oedema and varying degrees of oedema in several tissues and cavities.  In some cases petechiae and suffusions were associated with the subcutaneous oedema. The mucosa of the digestive system showed necrotic glossitis, oesophagitis and pharyngitis, abomasal hemorrhages and button-like ulcerations in the large intestine. The contents of ileum, colon and rectum were blood stained. Hemorrhagic diathesis was apparent by the presence of intra-abdominal hematomas. Histologically, there was marked tubular nephrosis associated with epithelial regeneration and hyaline intra-tubular casts. The mucosal lesions consisted of large necrotic areas in the epithelium which extended into the lamina propria and were associated with inflammatory reaction with massive infiltrations of mastocytes. The omasal mucosa had selective necrosis of the basal layer cells. Renal failure was suggested as the primary lesion which triggered the other changes [16].

A. spinosus also caused an outbreak of acute poisoning in ewes in southern Brazil. The clinical signs were uremic halitosis, loss of ruminal motility, dispnoea and abortion. The kidneys showed pale red spots, white streaks extending from the cortex to medulla and congestion. Histologically, there was severe acute tubular nephrosis, dispersed foci of coagulative necrosis in the liver, areas of coagulative necrosis in the myocardium and acute incipient interstitial pneumonia and secondary bronchopneumonia. Hyperkalemia secondary to renal insufficiency was the underlying cause of myocardial coagulative necrosis observed in seven sheep [17].

A 50% ethanolic extract of A. spinosus leaves administered orally to growing pigs elicited significant reductions in the packed cell volume, red blood cell levels and haemoglobin concentration at seven days post treatment. The white blood cell levels were not affected by the extract. The pigs given the extract showed significant gains in body weights after 7 days [18].

Genotoxicities and Mutagenicity Studies

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

A. spinosus pollen is a common aeroallergen in India [19][20]. It elicits an immediate hypersensitivity reaction triggering respiratory allergy.  In clinical studies, A. spinosus is one of the common inhalant allergens used in order to establish atopy in patient groups by skin prick test to determine total serum immunoglobulin E levels in asthmatic/allergic patients [20].

Used in Certain Conditions:

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation


Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation

Geriatrics

No documentation


Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation

Interactions

Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation

Contraindications

Contraindications

No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

References

  1. Azhar-ul-Haq, Malik A, Khan AU,Shah MR, Muhammad P. Spinoside, new coumaroyl flavone glycoside from Amaranthus spinosus. 2004; 27(12): 1216-9
  2. Igoli JO, Ogaji OG, Tor-Anyiin TA, Igoli NP. Traditional Medicine Practice Amongst The Igede People of Nigeria. 2005; 2(2): 134-152
  3. Suryavanshi VL, Sathe PA, Baing MM, Singh GR, Lakshmi SN. Determination of Rutin in Amaranthus spinosus Linn. Whole Plant Powder by HPTLC. 2007; 2(2): 134-152
  4. Odhava B, Beekrumb S, Akulaa U, Baijnath H. Preliminary assessment of nutritional value of traditional leafy vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. 2007; 20: 430-435
  5. Barminas T, Charles M, Emmanuel D. Mineral composition of non-conventional leafy vegetables. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 1998; 53: 29-36
  6. Sawangjaroen N, Sawangjaroen K. The effects of extracts from anti-diarrheic Thai medicinal plants on the in vitro growth of the intestinal protozoa parasite: Blastocystis hominis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005; 98(2005): 67–72
  7. Olumayokun AO, Babatunde RO, and Temitope OE. Anti inflammatory Properties of Amaranthus spinosus Leaf Extract. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2004; 42(7): 521-525
  8. Lin B, Chiang B, Lin J. Amaranthus spinosus water extract directly stimulates proliferation of B lymphocytes in vitro. International Immunopharmacology. 2005; 5: 711– 722
  9. Hilou A, Nacoulmaa OG, Guiguemdeb TR. In vivo antimalarial activities of extracts from Amaranthus spinosus L. and Boerhaavia erecta L. in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2006; 103: 236–240
  10. Ibewuike J, Ogundaini AO, Bohlin L, Ogungbamila FO. Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Selected Nigerian Medicinal Plants. J. Nat. Prod. And Med. 1997; 1: 10-14
  11. Mandal M, Mukherji S. A study on the activities of a few free radicals scavenging enzymes present in five roadside plants. J Environ Biol. 2001; 22(4): 301-5
  12. Cai Y, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant activity of betalains from plants of the amaranthaceae. J Agric Food Chem. 2003; 51(8): 2288-94
  13. Olufemi BE, Assiak IE, Ayoade GO, Onigemo MA. Studies on The Effects of Amaranthus spinosus Leaf Extract on the Haematology of Growing Pigs. African Journal of Biomedical Research. 2003; 6: 149-150
  14. Singh AB, Dahiya P. Antigenic and Allergenic Properties of Amaranthus Spinosus Pollen – A Common Growing Weed in India. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2002; 9: 147–151
  15. Singh BP, Malhotra M, Sridhara S, Gaur SN. Relevance of birth month in respiratory allergy. Allergy . 1997; 52: 232-233
  16. Sharma S, Kathuriaw PC, Guptaz CK, Nordling K, Ghosh B, Singh AB. Total serum immunoglobulin E levels in a case–control study in asthmatic/allergic patients, their family members, and healthy subjects from India. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2006; 36: 1019–1027
  17. View Abstract: Sheeja, K. Guruvayoorappan, C. Kuttan, G.. Antiangiogenic activity of Andrographis paniculata extract and andrographolide. Int Immunopharmacol. 2007 2 , ; 7:2: 211-21
  18. View Abstract: Thisoda, P. Rangkadilok, N. Pholphana, N. Worasuttayangkurn, L. Ruchirawat, S. Satayavivad, J.. Inhibitory effect of Andrographis paniculata extract and its active diterpenoids on platelet aggregation. Eur J Pharmacol. 2006 12 , 28; 553:1-3: 39-45
  19. View Abstract: Liu, J. Wang, Z. T. Ji, L. L. Ge, B. X.. Inhibitory effects of neoandrographolide on nitric oxide and prostaglandin E(2) production in LPS-stimulated murine macrophage. Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 11 , 16; 298:1-2: 49-57
  20. View Abstract: Singha, P. K. Roy, S. Dey, S.. Protective activity of andrographolide and arabinogalactan proteins from Andrographis paniculata Nees. against ethanol-induced toxicity in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 10 , 28; 111:1: 13-21
  21. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao, Satyawan Singh. Antinociceptive activity of Amaranthus spinosus in experimental animals. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 2009;3(122):492-496. 
  22. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Satyawan Singh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao.  Hepatoprotective activity of Amaranthus spinosus in experimental animals. Food and Chemical Toxicology: November 2008;11(46):3417-3421.
  23. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Satyawan Singh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of Amaranthus spinosus against CCl4 induced toxicity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology; 7 September 2009;2(125):364-366.
  24. Jin-Yuarn Lin, Ching-Yin Tang. Total phenolic contents in selected fruit and vegetable juices exhibit a positive correlation with interferon-γ, interleukin-5, and interleukin-2 secretions using primary mouse splenocytes. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. February 2008;1(21):45-53.
  25. John R.S. Tabuti, Collins B. Kukunda, Paul J. Waako. Medicinal plants used by traditional medicine practitioners in the treatment of tuberculosis and related ailments in Uganda. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009 In Press, Accepted Manuscript, pp 22.
  26. Basant Ballabh, O.P. Chaurasia, Zakwan Ahmed, Shashi Bala Singh. Traditional medicinal plants of cold desert Ladakh—Used against kidney and urinary disorders. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2008; 2(118):331-339.
  27. Jitu Buragohain. Folk medicinal plants used in gynecological disorders in Tinsukia district, Assam, India. Fitoterapia. 2008;5(79):388-392.
  28. Jitu Buragohain. Folk medicinal plants used in gynecological disorders in Tinsukia district, Assam, India. Fitoterapia. 2008;5(79):388-392
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    21. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao, Satyawan Singh. Antinociceptive activity of Amaranthus spinosus in experimental animals. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, April 2009;3(122):492-496.

     

    22. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Satyawan Singh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao.  Hepatoprotective activity of Amaranthus spinosus in experimental animals. Food and Chemical Toxicology: November 2008;11(46):3417-3421.

     

    23. Hussain Zeashan, G. Amresh, Satyawan Singh, Chandana Venkateswara Rao. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of Amaranthus spinosus against CCl4 induced toxicity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology; 7 September 2009;2(125):364-366.

     

    24. Jin-Yuarn Lin, Ching-Yin Tang. Total phenolic contents in selected fruit and vegetable juices exhibit a positive correlation with interferon-γ, interleukin-5, and interleukin-2 secretions using primary mouse splenocytes. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. February 2008;1(21):45-53.

     

    25. John R.S. Tabuti, Collins B. Kukunda, Paul J. Waako. Medicinal plants used by traditional medicine practitioners in the treatment of tuberculosis and related ailments in Uganda. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009 In Press, Accepted Manuscript, pp 22.

     

    26. Basant Ballabh, O.P. Chaurasia, Zakwan Ahmed, Shashi Bala Singh. Traditional medicinal plants of cold desert Ladakh—Used against kidney and urinary disorders. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2008; 2(118):331-339.

     

    27. Jitu Buragohain. Folk medicinal plants used in gynecological disorders in Tinsukia district, Assam, India. Fitoterapia. 2008;5(79):388-392.

     

    28. Jitu Buragohain. Folk medicinal plants used in gynecological disorders in Tinsukia district, Assam, India. Fitoterapia. 2008;5(79):388-392