VITEX NEGUNDO (Lagundi) in Focus: The Multi-Purpose Medicinal Plant
Recent studies showed the emerging importance of utilizing alternative medicine. One aspect of such practice is the use of herbal entities as treatment for various illnesses. Even before the marked scientific advancement in the history of humankind, herbal plants were used as part of traditional remedy for health disorders by ancient people. At present, there are more types of plants discovered which possess medicinal benefits. Some are even widely used today. Currently, one herbal plant is in the limelight of health breakthrough accounted for a number of its health and medicinal attributes. Being called in different names relative to the area or country that rears it, Vitex Negundo is simply just one-of-a-kind.
Commonly known as Lagundi in the Philippines, Vitex Negundo is a large shrub with thin and greyish bark and bluish-purple flowers. It has finger-like structured (digitate) leaves which grow in quadrangular branches. It bears flowers that develop in to clusters within densely matted filaments. V. Negundo is considered as a “hardy” plant because it can thrive even in the most extreme conditions though they are commonly found among humid areas or along courses of water. V.Negundo has gained popularity due to its medicinal value. More recent studies show its proven effectiveness to treat common illnesses such as cough and colds, to name a few.
Vitex Negundo is widely used on par with other proven herbal plants in traditional medicine. Its significance is known since the early times. As a matter of fact, it is vastly promoted and recommended by different health institutions worldwide upon verification of its use in relieving symptoms of respiratory ailments. Other scientific findings also claim that almost every part of this plant serves a variety of medicinal purposes such as remedy for febrile state, inflammation, rheumatic conditions, wounds, and ulcers.
AS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AGENT
During an episode of inflammation several chemical mediators are released which increase blood flow and extravasation of fluid through the area of affectation. One of these mediators is prostaglandin. It activates inflammatory response, produces pain sensations, and even induces increase in body temperature (known as fever). The leaves of the V.Negundo have essential phytochemicals that are said to be effective in treating acute or sub-acute inflammations and pain. Its action is geared primarily on the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis . Such action was said to be achieved all alone or in conjunction with other commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen.
As mentioned earlier, pain results from prostaglandin synthesis. The phytochemical extracts from the leaves of V.Negundo act on inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandin. Hence, pain and discomfort is reduced or alleviated. In addition, there are various studies showing that sub-therapeutic doses of leaf extracts increase the analgesic effects of some standard pain-relieving medications such as Meperidine (a type of narcotic) and Aspirin. There are also several experimental studies involving administration of V.Negundo extracts which indicates that its analgesic effect is not associated with opiod-mediated receptors as evidenced by its lack of response to Naloxone, a potent narcotic antagonist.
RELIEF OF RESPIRATORY AILMENTS
Vitex Negundo has properties that can treat a wide array of illnesses. It has essential phytochemicals which are effective in treating common respiratory ailments and asthma. Studies show that they work to alleviate cough, colds, and pharyngitis. Its properties are also capable of inhibiting the production of leukotriene, also a mediator of inflammatory process, in mast cells associated with asthma attack.
Certain bioactive phytochemicals present in Vitex Negundo, namely phenols, terpenoids, flavonoids, anthraquinones, and carotenoids are said to be associated in the antibacterial capabilities of the plant. Examinations showed that certain pathogenic agents such as salmonella paratyphi, klebsiella pneumonia, streptococcus mutans, and vibrio cholera are susceptible to these innate bioactive agents.
Some conditions that Vitex Negundo was said to be effective as a remedy are as follows:
- For foetid discharges from ulcerations
- As a medication capable of evacuating intestinal parasitic worms (as vermifuge)
- For headaches
- Swollen joints and testes (due to gonorrheal epidymitis or orchitis)
- Gastric colic and flatulence
- Promotes lactation for breastfeeding women (NOTE: Always consult your obstetrician before doing so.)
Apart from the above-mentioned purposes, V. Negundo is also claimed to have insecticidal properties.
Before, Vitex Negundo solutions were made out of boiled leaves and are often prepared in concoctions. However, due to their bitter taste, people (especially kids) are reluctant to ingest such mixtures. Instead, they resort taking over-the-counter medicines. But with recent advancements that focus on the medicinal benefits of V.Negundo, pharmaceutical companies came up with various preparations. Today, it is readily available in capsule or syrup forms.
There you have it - lots of medicinal and health benefits from a single shrub. With the advent of renewed interest for alternative medicine, particularly in the utilization of herbal plants for medicinal purposes, we are all a couple of step closer to a treatment regimen that is safe, with minimal or no side effects at all, accessible, and cost effective.