An uncommon plant found in East Asia shows potent antioxidant properties

An uncommon plant found in East Asia shows potent antioxidant properties
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(Natural News) The golden valerian (Patrinia scabiosaefolia) hails from East Asia. It is a pretty flowering plant that can be consumed as food and is used as a traditional medicinal herb. Recent research showed that the essential oil of this plant can potentially stop the growth of cancerous tumors, protect brain cells from damaging inflammation, and scavenge toxic free radicals in the body.

The plant is reportedly capable of detoxification, reducing body temperature, and expelling pus from the body. Traditional Chinese medicine uses it as a remedy for intestinal disorders such as acute appendicitis, dysentery, enteritis, and deep-rooted ulcer.

Earlier studies showed that natural components found in the golden valerian possess anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities. These bioactive compounds can be isolated from plants and used as new pharmacological agents to treat diseases that are resistant to current drugs.

Essential oils are complicated liquid mixtures of volatile aromatic compounds found in aromatic plants. Some of these oils have drawn scientific interest in recent years due to their cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, which can lead to apoptosis or cell death.

While golden valerian contains essential oils, only a few studies have taken a look at the chemical substances that made up those oils. Nor have there been many studies about the bioactivity of those natural compounds. (Related: The best essential oils for healthier hair.)

Testing the essential oil of golden valerian for protective activities

Researchers from the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (FUTCM) examined the essential oil of golden valerian for its antioxidant, cytotoxic, and anti-neuroinflammatory activities. They obtained samples of the entire plant and ran the raw material through drying and distillation processes. The resulting essential oil was run through gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify its different components.

Meanwhile, the researchers prepared cultures of eight human carcinoma cell lines for cytotoxic testing. They used the MTT assay to determine if the essential oil could inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

For the anti-neuroinflammatory test, they cultured BV-2 cells, which are microglia taken from mice. They induced inflammation in these brain cells by adding lipopolysaccharide. They added the essential oil to see if it could prevent the production of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta and interleukin-6.

In the antioxidant testing, they put the essential oil of the golden valerian through the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging assay. DPPH is a free radical that is commonly used to test the scavenging ability of potential antioxidants.

A potential anti-cancer, anti-neuroinflammatory, and antioxidant treatment

The FUTCM researchers reported identifying 44 different components in the essential oil of golden valerian. These compounds made up 83.919 percent of the total oil.

The most numerous components were caryophyllenes, which consisted of caryophyllene oxide, caryophyllene, and alpha-caryophyllene. Also present were beta-damascenone, calarene, and phenol.

The results of the MTT assay showed that the essential oil possessed cytotoxic effects that can inhibit the growth of human carcinoma cells. The effectiveness depended on the administered dose, while the dilution range covered 50 to 200 micrograms per milliliter (mg/mL).

In the anti-neuroinflammatory test, the extract from the golden valerian is able to reduce the production of IL-1 beta and and IL-6, thereby demonstrating its ability to protect mice microglia cells from lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation. The protective effect increased alongside the amount of oil applied to the cells.

Finally, the DPPH test demonstrated that the essential oil could scavenge the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl free radical. The antioxidant activity was dependent on the dosage. The half-maximal inhibitory concentration was determined to be 1.455 mg/mL.

Their findings lead the FUTCM researchers to conclude that the essential oil of golden valerian should be further studied as a source of bioactive substances that can help inhibit cancer cell growth, prevent inflammation in the brain, and provide beneficial antioxidants.

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