TECHNICAL PLANT DATA
About the Author
Conditions of Use
Species: brasiliensis, pinnata
Synonyms: Bryophyllum calycinum, B. germinans, B. pinnatum, Cotyledon calycina, C.
calyculata, C. pinnata, C. rhizophilla, Crassuvia floripendia, Crassula pinnata, Sedum
madagascariense, Verea pinnata
Common names: Air plant, balangban, bruja, clapper bush, coirama, coirama-branca, coirama-brava, curtain plant, dipartenga, farine chaude, fel pavo, floppers, folha-da-costa, green love,
hoja de aire, life leaf, live forever, mexican loveplant, miracle leaf, motta patti, paichecara,
pashipadeh, paochecara, pirarucu, potagoja, sayao, saião, siempre viva
Part Used: Leaves, leaf juice
From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:
| KALANCHOE |
| HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS |
||Infusion: 1 cup twice daily
||Juice: applied topically
||constricts blood vessels
|| 2-3 times daily
Kalanchoe is a succulent perennial plant that grows 3-5 feet tall. Commonly known as 'air plant,' it has tall hollow stems, fleshy dark green leaves that are distinctively scalloped and trimmed in red, and bell-like pendulous flowers. Kalanchoe is botanically classified with two main Latin names which refer to the same plant: Bryophyllum pinnatum and Kalanchoe pinnatum (as well as various synonyms of both). This is the only Kalanchoe species found in South America, however, 200 other species of Kalanchoe are found in Africa, Madagascar, China and Java. A number of species are cultivated as ornamentals here in the U.S. and they are becoming popular tropical house plants. In Brazil the plant goes by the common names of saião or coirama and in Peru it is called hoja del aire (air plant) or kalanchoe.
TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES
Kalanchoe is somewhat of a panacea to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon; they employ it for many different purposes. The Creoles use the lightly roasted leaves for cancer and inflammations, and a leaf infusion is a popular remedy for fevers. The Palikur mix the leaf juice with coconut oil or andiroba oil and then rub it on the forehead for migraines and headaches. To the Siona indigenous peoples, kalanchoe is known as 'boil medicine' and they heat the leaves and apply them topically to boils and skin ulcers. Along the Rio Pastaza in Ecuador, natives use a leaf infusion for broken bones and internal bruises. In Peru, indigenous tribes mix the leaf with aguardiente (sugar cane rum) and apply the mixture to the temples for headaches; they soak the leaves and stems overnight in cold water and then drink it for heartburn, urethritis, and fevers. The root is also prepared as an infusion and used for epilepsy. Other tribes in the Amazon squeeze the juice from fresh leaves and mix it with mother's milk for earaches.
Throughout South America kalanchoe has had a long history of use. It is commonly called the 'miracle leaf' and 'life leaf' for its remarkable healing properties. In Brazil the plant is considered a sedative, wound-healer, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and cough suppressant. It is used for all sorts of respiratory conditions-from asthma and coughs to bronchitis. It is also employed for kidney stones, gastric ulcers, skin disorders and edema of the legs. Externally a leaf infusion or the leaf juice is used for headaches, toothaches, earaches, eye infections, wounds, ulcers, boils, burns and insect bites. In Peru the plant is employed for the same uses. In Mexico and Nicaragua kalanchoe is used for similar purposes and also to promote menstruation and assist in childbirth.
Kalanchoe is rich in alkaloids, triterpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, steroids and lipids. The leaves contain a group of chemicals called bufadienolides which are very active and have sparked the interest of scientists. They are very similar in structure and activity as two other cardiac glycosides, digoxin and digitoxin (drugs used for the clinical treatment of congestive heart failure and related conditions). Kalanchoe's bufadienolides have demonstrated in clinical research to possess antibacterial, antitumorous, cancer preventative, and insecticidal actions.
The main plant chemicals found in kalanchoe include: arachidic acid, astragalin, behenic acid, beta amyrin, benzenoids, beta-sitosterol, bryophollenone, bryophollone, bryophyllin, bryophyllin A-C, bryophyllol, bryophynol, bryotoxin C, bufadienolides, caffeic acid, campesterol, cardenolides, cinnamic acid, clerosterol, clionasterol, codisterol, coumaric acid, epigallocatechin, ferulic acid, flavonoids, friedelin, glutinol, hentriacontane, isofucosterol, kaempferol, oxalic acid, oxaloacetate, palmitic acid, patuletin, peposterol, phosphoenolpyruvate, protocatechuic acid, pseudotaraxasterol, pyruvate, quercetin, steroids, stigmasterol, succinic acid, syringic acid, taraxerol, and triacontane
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
Many of kalanchoe's traditional uses can be explained by the clinical research conducted thus far on the plant. The traditional use for infectious conditions (both internally and externally) is supported by research indicating kalanchoe leaves have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity. The leaf and leaf juice have demonstrated significant in vitro antibacterial activity towards Staphylococcus, E. coli, Shigella, Bacillus and Pseudomonas, including several strains of multi-drug resistant bacteria. A water extract of kalanchoe leaves (administered topically and internally) has been shown to prevent and treat leishmaniasis (a common parasitic disease in tropical countries which is transmitted by the bite of sand flies) in both humans and animals. In addition to its antibacterial properties, kalanchoe's traditional uses for upper respiratory conditions and coughs might be explained by research demonstrating that the leaf juice has potent anti-histamine and anti-allergic activity. In an in vivo study (with rats and guinea pigs) the leaf juice was able to protect against chemically induced anaphylactic reactions and death by selectively blocking histamine receptors in the lungs.
In another in vivo study scientists validated kalanchoe's use for gastric ulcers; a leaf extract protected mice from such ulcer-inducers as stress, aspirin, ethanol and histamine. Other in vivo research confirms that kalanchoe can reduce fevers, and provides anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and muscle relaxant effects. It's anti-inflammatory effects have been partially attributed to the immunomodulatory and immune suppressant effect documented by scientists in several studies. In several in vivo and in vitro studies, researchers reported that extracts of the leaf and/or juice suppressed various immune reactions, including those which trigger an inflammatory response as well as a histamine response. Kalanchoe has also shown sedative and central nervous system depressant actions in animal studies. These effects were attributed partially to the leaf extract demonstrating the ability to increase the levels of a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
With many of kalanchoe's traditional uses verified by animal research, it is not unusual that it continues to be a popular natural remedy throughout the tropics where it grows. From upper respiratory infections and coughs to stomach ulcers and infections of the skin, eyes and ears; it is widely known and used as "miracle leaf." The clinical research performed to date with animals indicate that the leaves are not toxic at dosages up to 5 grams per kilogram of body weight (in rats) however there are a few reports of toxicity and even death when grazing animals (cows and goats) consumed excessive quantities of the leaves and flowers (estimated at 20 g per kg of body weight).
Kalanchoe is not well known or widely available here in the U.S. While various hybrid species may be in plant stores and nurseries here, these types of plants have been genetically modified for their qualities and appearance as ornamental plants and they shouldn't be used internally as a natural remedy.
| KALANCHOE PLANT SUMMARY |
Main Preparation Method: infusion or fresh leaf juice |
Main Actions (in order):
immunomodulator (selectively changes some immune functions), central nervous system depressant, analgesic (pain-reliever), antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory
Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
- applied externally and taken internally for all types of pain and inflammation
- applied externally and taken internally for various bacterial, viral, and fungal infections
- for leishmaniasis
- for earaches (leaf juice dropped into ear)
- for upper respiratory infections, flu, and fever
analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-allergic, anti-anaphylactic (reduces allergic reactions), anti-inflammatory, antitumorous, antiulcerous, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine, antiviral, central nervous system depressant, febrifuge (reduces fever) gastroprotective (protects the gastric tract), immunosuppressive (suppresses some immune cells), immunomodulator (modulates some overactive immune cells), insecticidal, muscle relaxant, sedative
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
anticonvulsant, antilithic (prevents or eliminates kidney stones), cough suppressant, carminative (expels gas), cough suppressant, diuretic, hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), menstrual stimulant, refrigerant (lowers body temperature), tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions), uterine stimulant, vasoconstrictor, wound healer
Cautions: Avoid long-term use because of its immune suppressant effects.
Traditional Preparation: In the Amazon 1 cup of a leaf infusion twice daily is generally used for upper respiratory infections, coughs and fever. The leaf is rather juicy and succulent; the leaf is mashed up to obtain the juice, which is placed directly on cuts, scrapes, boils and other infected skin conditions and dropped into the ears or eyes for ear aches and eye infections.
- The plant should not be used in pregnancy. Though not supported by clinical research, it has traditionally been used during childbirth and may stimulate the uterus.
- Kalanchoe has documented immune modulating actions and should not be used chronically for long periods of time, or by those with a lowered immune system.
- May potentiate barbiturates.
- May potentiate cardiac glycosides such as digoxin and digitoxin.
- May potentiate immunosuppressive medications.
- May potentiate CNS depressant medications.
WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
||for abscesses, adenoids(infected), arthritis, athlete's foot, boils, bronchitis, bubos, burns, calluses, conjunctivitis, corns, coughs, dermatitis, dermatosis, earaches, eczema, edema, erysipelas, fever, glaucoma, headache, infections, inflammation, insect stings, intestinal problems, itch, kidney stones, lymphatic disorders, mouth sores, nervousness, respiratory infections, rheumatism, scurvy, skin problems, toothache, tuberculosis, tumor, ulcers, urinary insufficiency, wart, whooping cough, wounds, and as a sedative|
||for bruises, broken bones|
||for aches, diarrhea, pain, skin problems|
||for abdominal discomfort, boils, bruises, cholera, cuts, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, flatulence, headaches, kidney stones, indigestion, insect bites, scabies, sores, urinary insufficiency, wounds|
||for eye infections, headaches, inflammation, menstrual disorders, pimples, wounds |
||for aches, burns, childbirth, colds, coughs, fever, headache, pain, respiratory infections|
||for coughs, earaches, eczema, inflammation, pimples|
||for bacterial infections, boils, broken bones, bronchitis, cancer (lymphoma), conjunctivitis, coughs, earaches, eye infections, epilepsy, erysipelas, fever, gas, headache, heartburn, inflammation, intestinal problems, migraine, nausea, skin problems, sores, ulcers, urethritis|
|for asthma, chest colds, earaches, headaches, sores, strains, tumors|
||for chicken pox, fevers, stomachache|
|for menstrual disorders, ulcers|
||for arthritis, asthma, bruises, burns, constipation, diabetes, earaches, headaches, malnutrition, migraines, nephritis, paralysis, respiratory infections, rheumatism, sprains, swelling, ulcers, wound|
The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005
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Last updated 12-17-2012