African plant halts bleeding, speeds healing

NEW YORK Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:06pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The leaves of Aspilia africana, a plant used in African traditional medicine, can stop bleeding, block infection and speed wound healing, a new study from Nigeria confirms.

The leaves and flowers of A. Africana, a bristle-covered herb known as the "hemorrhage plant," have been used to stanch bleeding, remove foreign bodies from the eyes, treat scorpion stings, and for several other purposes across the African continent, note Dr. Charles O. Okoli and colleagues at the University of Nigeria. Dr. Okoli is currently located in Sydney, Australia at the University of New South Wales.

To test the plant's medicinal properties, Okoli and his team performed a series of lab and animal experiments comparing the effects of an extract of the powdered leaves in methanol, and two different portions or fractions containing hexane or methanol.

They report their findings in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The extract and the fractions of the plant significantly reduced bleeding and clotting time in rats, the researchers found, with the methanol fraction having the strongest effect.

All components also slowed the growth of Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus aureus, two common wound-infecting bacteria, and reduced wound healing time. For both halting bacterial growth and speeding healing, the methanol fraction again had the most powerful effect.

Analysis of the plant extracts and fractions identified a variety of plant components that could be responsible for its medicinal properties, Okoli and his colleagues note, including saponins and tannins.

"The results of this study indicate that extracts of leaves of A. Africana have good potentials for use in wound care and further provide a rationale for the use of the leaves of this plant in wound management in traditional medicine practice," they conclude.

SOURCE: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, July 10, 2007.

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