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    Topic review

    Helichrysum Mill

    Subjects: Plant Sciences
    View times: 10
    Submitted by: Okobi Ekpo


    The genus Helichrysum Mill comprises hundreds of species that are mostly flowering perennial shrubs. Some of these plants that belong to the Helichrysum species are used in traditional medicine to treat cough, back pain, diabetes, asthma, digestive problems, menstrual pain, chest pain, kidney disorders, skin disorders, wounds, open sores, among other conditions, but, only a few scientific studies are reported in the literature with sufficient information that validates the acclaimed folkloric benefits of these plants. Cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, anti-proliferative, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-HIV, anti-malarial, anti-ulcerogenic, anti-tyrosinase, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant activities are reported of selected Helichrysum species of interest: H. petiolare, H. cymocum, H. foetidum, and H. pandurifolium Schrank, using scientific databases as well as electronic and print sources.

    1. Introduction

    The genus Helichrysum Mill comprises distinctively of aromatic herbs and shrubs of the family Asteraceae . It has a worldwide distribution but is mainly found in Africa, with its highest diversity in South Africa, where approximately 245 of the 500 known species occur. Other areas of Helichrysum diversity include Europe, southwestern Asia, South India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Australia. For ease of identification, the southern African species are divided into 30 informal groups [1].

    Plants of the Helichrysum genus have been in use for more than 2000 years for various folkloric purposes. The flowers of some members of this genus have a unique bright-yellow color that depicts their Greek language origins: “helios” and “chryos” which mean “sun” and “gold” respectively. In folkloric medicine, some Helichrysum plant parts are either consumed as teas or prepared as “burnt offering” smoke to disinfect the abodes of sick patients and to appeal for blessings from the ancestors in indigenous traditional practices [2]. In general, plants of this genus are known to be used in traditional medicine for the treatment of many ailments, including liver disorders, gall bladder complications, cystitis, jaundice, stomach pain, allergies, infections, colds, cough, skin infections, inflammation, menstrual pain, asthma, arthritis, insomnia, diabetes mellitus, and for wound healing [3][4][5][6][7], most commonly, the scented leaves and flowers.

    The therapeutic properties of the Helichrysum species are often attributed to their different constituent phytochemicals, especially the essential oils [8][9]. In addition to the essential oils, plants in this species also contain such phytochemicals as terpenoids, phenolics and oxygenated compounds as secondary metabolites, including flavonoids, chalcones, phenolic acids, terpenes and essential oils, pyrone, benzofurans, and phloroglucinols [10]. Thus, these plants are potential reservoirs of bioactive compounds for drug discovery and development. Hitherto, only limited biological effects of the Helichrysum phytochemicals have been reported including, the antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, hepatoprotective, anti-proliferative and anti-diabetic activities [7][11][12][13].

    So far, only a few of the many Helichrysum species have been studied; the best known Helichrysum species used traditionally to treat different ailments are H. cymosum , H. odoratissimum , H. petiolare and H. nudifolium . Only limited information is available in the literature on these plant species on their ornamental, industrial and pharmaceutical applications [14].

    2. Essential Oils Present in Selected Helichrysum Species

    Essential oils (EOs) are the condensed or concentrated hydrophobic liquids that contain volatile chemical compounds derived from plants. The variety of compounds in EOs depends on such factors as the plant species, plant part used (leaves, fruits, roots), harvest period, environmental conditions (land fertility, humidity, temperature) and the extraction technique employed [15].

    One distinct characteristic of the helichrysum genus is its aromatic nature and most of the species in this genus have been reported to be rich in essential oils (EOs) containing many compounds [10]. Many EOs are prescribed as alternative medicine (in aromatherapy) based on the healing effects of their aromatic compounds [16]. Monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and diterpenes are some of the broad groups of compounds present in the EOs of most plants, including the helichrysum genus ; these compounds are largely responsible for the reported anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-nociceptive, and anti-spasmodic properties associated with these plants (Table 1).

    Table 1. The common phytochemical compounds present in the essential oils of selected Helichyrsum species.

    Helichrysum Species Plant Parts Compounds Method of Analysis Pharmacological Activity References
    H. petiolare
    Plants 10 01566 i001
    A growing Helichrysum petiolare plant [17] SANBI available online http://pza.sanbi.org/helichrysum-petiolare (accessed on 19 June 2021)
    Leaves α-pinene (6.8%), 1, 8-cineole (22.4), p-cymene (9.8%) and β-caryophyllene (14%) G.C.-M.S. Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory [18]
    Whole plant (E)-Longipinane (11.79%), trans-Geranylgeraniol (11.68%), Phytol (11.28%) Geranyllinalool (11.13%) and α-Eicosane (12.07%) G.C.-M.S. Anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory [19]
    H. cymosum
    Plants 10 01566 i002
    A growing Helichrysum cymosum plant [20] SANBI available online: http://pza.sanbi.org/helichrysum-cymosum-subsp-cymosum (accessed on 19 June 2021)
    Leaves, Flowers ∆-3-carene (16.1%), β-caryophyllene (12.0%) G.C., G.C.-M.S. Anti-fungal [21]
    Flowers Monoterpenes (77.9%) G.C.-M.S.
    G.C., G.C.-M.S.
    Anti-inflammatory [22]
    Leaves, Flowers (Z) -β- ocimene G.C.-M.S. - [23]
      Leaves α-pinene (12.4%), 1, 8-cineole (20.4%), β-caryophyllene (10.8%)   Anti-bacterial [18]
    H. foetidum
    Plants 10 01566 i003
    A growing Helichrysum foetidum plant [24] SANBI available online http://pza.sanbi.org/helichrysum-foetidum (accessed on 19 June 2021)
    Leaves, flower Β-pinene (3.1%), Trans-Sabiene hydrate (1.8%), 4-terpineol (3.1%), β-caryophyllene (2.5%) G.C.-M.S. Anti-microbial
    H. pandurifolium
    Plants 10 01566 i004
    A growing Helichrysum pandurifolium plant [26] iNaturalist. Available online: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23571154 (accessed on 19 June 2021)
      N/A N/A N/A N/A
    Gas chromatography: G.C.; Gas chromatography mass spectrometry: G.C.-M.S.; Not available: N/A.

    3. Conclusions

    Plants belonging to the Helichrysum genus are a vital source of traditional medicines in many parts of the world, including South Africa. The many novel chemical compounds present in the extracts of these plants and their essential oils account for most of their pharmacological actions. We highlighted the reported diversity of the Helichrysum genus and the ethnomedicinal and biological activities of some of its species. However, only limited scientific reports are available in the literature on some species, hence further multi-disciplinary studies by botanists, plant pathologists, chemists, ethnopharmacologists and medical scientists are required on all the plants in this genus, as they appear to be potential sources of useful bioactive medicinal compounds that could be exploited in the drug discovery and development value chain.

    The entry is from 10.3390/plants10081566


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