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Acanthus montanus (Nees)


Cheilopsis Montana Nees, Acanthus barteri T.Anderson.

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Jeruju

African Mountain Acanthus, False Thistle, Bear’s breech, Mountain Thistle


Lidjeke, Metchieke (Villi); Digandou, Mpepelo (Loumbou); Mpinpelo (Pygmees Ibongo); Ahon ekun dudu, Ekun arugbo, Opipi, Opipi oko (Yoruba); Kpete pela (Sierra Leon); Bari tsari, Bali tsari (Congo); Bangambale (Gabon); Nsumelab (Cameroon) [1][2]

General Information


Acanthus montanus (Nees) T. Anders. is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is a native of West Africa and has been introduced to the rest of the world as an ornamental plant. In Malaysia it has become feral and seems to colonise riverside areas in the North-west of Peninsular Malaysia. It is an erect, prickly perennial that can grow up to 2m tall. The stem is stout woody and sparsely branching. Leaves are opposite, glossy and papery in texture, deeply pinnately-lobed, up to 20cm long and 10cm wide. The lobes have spines and the upper surface is glossy dark green in colour. The inflorence consist of a cylindrical spike up to 20cm long. Flowers are showy, pinkish-white with large bracts having spiny teeth. The upper bract is larger than the lower. Calyx is bilabiate the upper being larger. The corolla is unilabiate, the upper one being rudimentary. The stamen is didynamous; anthers are unilocular with bearded margins; the base of the style is a hairy sheath. The fruit is a capsule 2.5cm long. [3]

Plant Part Used

Shoots, leaves, stem, stem bark and roots [4][5][6][7][8]

Chemical Constituents


Traditional Use:

In Malaysia A. montanus since its introduction during the colonial days has been used by inland Malay population in manners similar to Acanthus illicifolius Linn. and Acanthus ebracteatus. Many of the uses of this plant is almost similar to their uses by various societies in the continent of Africa. 

Cardiovascular Diseases

In various countries of west Africa where this plant it endemic, the leaves of A. montanus had been used in the treatment of hypertension and cardiac dysfunctions. The Nigerians use the leaves while the Geviya people of Gabon makes use of the young shoots eaten with salt to treat their heart diseases. Hypertension is treated by giving the patient a decoction of the leaves. [4][5][6] 

Respiratory Disease

The leaves of A. montanus in the form of tea is used by the people of Gabon and those of southeastern Nigeria to treat cough. [5] Another society in Africa advocates the use of the leaves and the bark of the stem. [6] 

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The macerated leaves of A. montanus is used to induce vomiting in children amongst the Geviya tribe of Gabon. Women with stomach-ache and nausea is given young shoots cooked with peanut butter which is called mo-dika to provide them with relieve of the complaint. [5] Abdominal pains are relieved by drinking the decoction of the leaves. The leaves and stems had been used to ease the pains of acute gastritis and is believed to be an antacid. [7][8] Leaves are also used in the treatement of Hepatitis and Hepatosplenomegaly in certain areas of Africa. [9] 

Inflammatory & Infectious Diseases

A. montanus is used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions by scarification using the thorns. This is done in similar manners by the Geviya people of Gabon [5] and the people of Aguambu-Bamumbu of the Cameroon. [10] The same group of people make use of parts of the plant to treat gonorrhoea and syphilis. In this case the macerated stems are given to the patient. The roots is highly acclaimed by various society in Africa as an effective remedy for abscesses. To the people of southeastern Nigeria the roots are macerated and applied over the boils. 

Obstertics and Gynaecology

The people of Aguambu-Bamumbu of the Cameroon treat menstrual irregularities by taking the macerated leaves of A. montanus orally. [10] Those of the Upper Nyong valley forest in the Cameroon advocate the use of the leaves to treat dysmenorrhoea. [11] The traditional women of southeastern Nigeria made use of the roots instead to treat dysmenorrhoea. [12] In Cameroon, the leaf extracts had been used to treat cases of threatened abortion.

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunological activity:

Some African societies had used the leaves in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions. Asongalem EA., reported, in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in November 2004, that the aqueous extract of the leaves of A. montanus indeed has significant anti-inflammatory activity. This is evidenced by the significant reduction in oedema induced by carrageenan within 30 minutes of application of the extract in the effective dose of 200mg/kg. [13] 

The roots of A. montanus is popularly used in the treatment of boils rather very effectively in Nigeria. This has initiated Okoli et al to conduct experiments into the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and possible immunological properties of the roots of this plant. They found that the aqueous extracts of the roots (hot water maceration of the root powder) could inhibit the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus aureus moderately. They also observed that this extract could significantly reduced and suppressed artificially induced acute oedema in rat ears and paws. The extract was able to inhibit vascular permeability and haemolysis of red blood cells. Haematological studies showed an increase in total leukocyte and neutrophil counts and a significant dose-related increase in the macrophage population. There was also a significant increase in the phagocytic activity as evidenced by increase in the number of macrophages with ingested Candida albicans. It was thus concluded that the anti-inflammatory activity of the root extracts of Acanthus montanus (Nees) T. Anderson is due to the mobilization of leukocytes to the site of infection and the activation of phagocytic activity together with the suppression of exacerbated immune response by the constituents. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities are also a player in the mechanism of healing. 

The methanol extract of leaves of A. montanus showed significant inhibitory effects on the growth of Helicobacter pylori. [14] This could possibly substantiate the use of the leaves as an antiulcer treatment as practiced by some traditional healers in Africa. 

Analgesic activity:

The analgesic properties of A. montanus was first reported by Adeyemi O.O. et al in January 2004. They found that the methanolic extract of the leaves has analgesic effects which could possibly be due to both centrally and peripherally mediated. [15] Asongalem EA., et al, reported similar findings with their aqueous extracts of the leaves, however the aqueous extracts did not show any centrally mediated analgesic properties. [13] 

Antipyretic activity:

The leaves of A. montanus had been advocated in the treatment of fever in traditional medical practices by various communities globally. It was found in a study published in 2004 that the aqueous extracts of the leaves was able to reduce fever at doses greater than 100mg/kg within 6 hours. [13] 

Anti-abortifacient activity:

In the Cameroon the leaves of A. montanus had been used to treat threatened abortion. Asongalem EA et al published two paper in relation to this. In the first paper published in November 2007 they evaluated the maternal and developmental toxicity of the leaf extract using methanol/methylene chloride. They observed that there was embryotoxicity during organogenesis as manifested by reduction in foetal body weight, crown-rump and tail lengths and reduced ossification of extremities bones. However, these signs of growth retardation observed before day 5 were reversible and the pups returned to normality after that. There was no maternal or organ toxicity observed. They also found that b-sitosterol was a major component in the extract and believed that this compound could be instrumental to the effects observed. [16] 

The same investigators studied the effect of A. montanus aqueous extract on the estrous cycle pre- and post-implantation in rats and its mechanism of action. They found that irrespective of the dose this extract reversibly prolonged the metestrous and occasionally the diestrous stages of the estrous cycle. It did not alter the uterine wet weight or deciduoma count, suggesting a lack of estrogenic and progestational effects. At a dose of 1000mg/kg/day it was observed that there were an appreciable pre-implantation losses of 36.8 +/- 6.5%, however, there were no post-implantation losses. They also noted a delay in foetal growth. [17] 

Anticonvulsant activity:

In the process of screening 6 medicinal plants for their anti-convulsant and sedative activities Bum EN et al observed that A. montanus protected 66.6% of mice against maximal electroshock (MES), picrotoxin (PIC), and strychnine (STR)-induced convulsions and 83.3% of mice from pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced convulsions. [18] 

Antispasmodic activity:

It was observed that the methanolic extract of the leaves of A. montanus was able to relax and inhibit the contraction of smooth muscles of the gut of rabbits and guinea pigs. This effect of the extract was not blocked by propranolol (3 x 10(-7) M) but partially antagonised by phentolamine (10(-6)-3 x 10(-6) M), procaine (10(-3) M) and methylene blue (10(-5) M). [19] 

Hepatoprotective activity:

The leaves of A. montanus had been used in the treatment of hepatitis and hepatosplenomegaly by the Africans. K.C. Patrick-Iwuanyanwu and M.O. Wegwu looked into this liver protective properties of the leaves and stems. In the pre-treated group of rats it was observed that the aqueous extract of stem of Acanthus montanus showed a marked decrease in the levels of Serum L-alanine aminotransferase (L-ALT), L-aspartate amino transferase (L-AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and the alcoholic extract of leaves showed the lowest in the level of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Total serum bilirubin also showed a remarkable decrease with aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the stem and leaf. Lipid peroxidation expressed by malondialdehyde (MDA) concentration was significantly reduced. Histopathological examinations of pre-treated rats showed significant improvements in the architecture of rat liver. All these results suggested that the aqueous and methanol extracts of the leaves and stems of A. montanus may prevent liver damage induced by CCl4 in rats. [20]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Umberto Quattrocchi CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: A-C CRC Press, Boca Raton 2000 pg. 23.
  2. Philippe Hecketsweiler, J. Mokoko Ikonga La réserve de Conkouati: Congo le secteur sud-est IUCN, 1991 pg. 274.
  3. Prof. Balfour Notice of a species of Dilivaria (Acanthus) sent from old Calabar by A. Hewan Transactions and proceedings of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, Volume 8 Botanical Society of Edinburgh Edinburgh 1866 pg. 247.
  4. Debasis Bagchi Nutraceutical and Functional Food Regulations in the United States and Around the World Academic Press, Burlington 2008 pg. 334.
  5. Lolke J. Van der Veen, Sébastien Bodinga-bwa-Bodinga Gedandedi Sa Geviya. Dictionnaire Geviya-Francais K12 Peeters Press Paris 2002 pg. 55 – 56.
  6. Igoli JO, Ogaji OG, Tor-Anyiin TA, Igoli NP Traditional Medicine Practice amongst the Igede people of Nigeria Part II Afr.J. Trad. CAM (2005) 2(2): 134-152.
  7. Maurice M. Iwu Handbook of African medicinal plants CRC Press, Boca Raton 1993 pg. 10.
  8. Jiofack T, Fokunang C, Kemeuze V, Fongnzossie E, Tsabang N, Nkuinkeu R, Mapongmetsem PM, Nkongmeneck BA Ethnobotany and phytopharmacopoea of the Southwest ethnoecological region of Cameroon. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 2(8): 197-206 August 2008.
  9. Bernard Boullard Plantes médicinales du monde: croyances et réalités ESTEM Paris 2001 pg. 7.
  10. Focho DA, Ndam WT, Fonge BA Medicinal plants of Aguambu – Bamumbu in the Lebialem highlands, southwest province of Cameroon African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Vol. 3(1):001-013 January 2009.
  11. Jiofack T, Ayissi I, Fokunang C, Gueje N, Kemeuze V Ethnobotany and phytomedicine of the upper Nyong valley forest in Cameroon African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Vol. 3(4): 144-150 April 2009.
  12. M.O.Nwosu Plant resources used by traditional women as herbal medicines and cosmetics in Southeast-Nigeria Arztezeitschrift fur Naturheilvertahren 41, 11 (2000).
  13. Asongalem EA, Foyet HS, Ekobo S, Dimo T, Kamtchouing P. Antiinflammatory, lack of central analgesia and antipyretic properties of Acanthus montanus (Ness) T. Anderson. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Nov;95(1):63-8.
  14. Ndip RN, Malange Tarkang AE, Mbullah SM, Luma HN, Malongue A, Ndip LM, Nyongbela K, Wirmum C, Efange SM. In vitro anti-Helicobacter pylori activity of extracts of selected medicinal plants from North West Cameroon. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Dec 3;114(3):452-7. Epub 2007 Aug 28.
  15. Adeyemi OO, Okpo SO, Okpaka O. The analgesic effect of the methanolic extract of Acanthus montanus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Jan;90(1):45-8.
  16. Nana P, Asongalem EA, Foyet HS, Folefoc GN, Dimo T, Kamtchouing P. Maternal and developmental toxicity evaluation of Acanthus montanus leaves extract administered orally to Wistar pregnant rats during organogenesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Mar 5;116(2):228-33. Epub 2007 Nov 22.
  17. Asongalem EA, Nana P, Foyet HS, Dimo T, Kamtchouing P. Antifertility and fetotoxic activities of Acanthus montanus aqueous extract in Wistar rats. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Sep;30(7):521-8.
  18. Bum EN, Taiwe GS, Nkainsa LA, Moto FC, Seke Etet PF, Hiana IR, Bailabar T, Rouyatou, Seyni P, Rakotonirina A, Rakotonirina SV. Validation of anticonvulsant and sedative activity of six medicinal plants. Epilepsy Behav. 2009 Mar;14(3):454-8. Epub 2009 Jan 20.
  19. Adeyemi OO, Okpo SO, Young-Nwafor CC. The relaxant activity of the methanolic extract of Acanthus montanus on intestinal smooth muscles. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Dec 15;68(1-3):169-73.
  20. K.C. Patrick-Iwuanyanwu and M.O. Wegwu Prevention of Carbon Tetrachloride (CCl4)-Induced Liver Damage in Rats by Acanthus montanus Asian Journal of Biochemistry 2008 Volume: 3(4): 213-220

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