Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kembang Bugang - Clerodendrum calamitosum, Linn

This plant was named as Melor Susun at the Taman Herba Sungai Batu Pahat, Perlis. The mother plant was purchased a long time ago at Sungai Buluh Leper Colony. I like this plant because of the showy flowers which grows in bunch typical of Clerodendrum in general and the mild fragrance it imparts. The pure white flowers has resulted in it being dubbed as White Butterfly by the English. This plant is native to Southeast Asia and especially common in Java. The name Kembang Bugang is actually its Javanese name. It is also called Kechi beling, Kaji beling in its native land. While in Sumatera it is called Kayu Gambir. The Chinese called this Hua Shi Su

During Tun Mahathir's visit he asked me of this plant. I told him it is just an ornamental plant to add a touch of fragrance to the air as I placed it beside my Kenanga and Bunga China. I was wrong! It indeed has multitude of uses as medicine in its native land. Today I stand corrected Tun.

It has two pharmacologial effects at the least i.e. haemostatic and lithotryptic. The parts they use as medicine are the leaves, the roots and the fruits.

The leaves have haemostatic, antipyretic, diuretic and probably anti-inflammatory/antibacterial properties and is being used in the treatment of dysentery, fever, stangury and gonorrhoea, destruction of calcium oxalate and triple-phosphate stone of the kidneys, and syphillis.

The roots are basically used as treatment of snake bites. Here a piece of th root the size of your thumb is chewed and the liquid swallowed while the residue is applied over the bites.

The fruit is used in the treatment of dysentery.

Another of my passion is finding plants with lithotriptic properties. Kidney and Gall Bladder stones are two other very frustrating diseases to treat. The pain experienced by patients is really out of this world. Treatment offered by modern medicine is not really full proof guarantee of permanent relieve. The use of alkalinizing drugs take way too long to provide an effective dissolution of the stones while the gastric irritation as a result of frequent intake of these drugs deter patients from continuing therapy. The more recent use of Shockwave lithotripsy with stanting has been successful in breaking up the stone but the procedure is very painful and patients continue to suffer from frequent excretion of fragment of stone even after removal of the stant. Recurrence rate is also very high amongst my patients who has undergone such therapy. I really pity them when they come with renal colic. There is another plant which our Indonesian counterpart called by the name of Kechibeling (Stobilanthes crispus) which has proven time and again to be effective in effecting the extrusion of renal stone of reasonable size within a period of 1 to 10 days of therapy. The leaves of this appears almost similar to Cledrodenrum calamitosum in colour but those of the former are stiff and rouogh while the latter is smooth and soft.

Recent research done has show the plant to contain compounds which proves to have cytotoxic activities to combat malignant conditions including cancers of the lungs, kidneys, intestines, breasts, skin and also melanomas.

Aesthetically, this plant is a marvelous plant to grow in your garden. It flowers regularly and with the showy flowers and fragrance will definitely enhance the beauty of your garden. At the same time with the remedy for snakebites at least it can act as a first aid for you before going to the hospital for further treatment. It has probably prevented death from snakebites of people in its native land to won it the reputation and an antidote. But always remember snakes don't bite unless they felt threaten so if you see a snake just shoo it away rather than killing it. We are not their prey per se. If left undisturbed they will just slowly and sure slide away into the wilderness.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kemunting Cina - Catharanthus rosea, Linn.

Kemunting Cina - Catharanthus rosea, Linn.

Kemunting Cina (pronounced as ker-moon-ting chee-nah) probably called so by the Malays of Peninsula Malaysia because it may have been the favourite of the Chinese here. This plant originate from Madagascar an island in the Indian Ocean very close to the east coast of Africa. It has travelled a long way from there to as far as Southeastern America. Throughout the tropics it has now become an uncontrolled weed. Because of this in Langkawi this plant is called Bunga Jalang Kampong or the wild flower of the village. The scientific desingnation of the plant means "PURE FLOWER" or Catharanthus.

I have traced this plant from its origin in Madagascar to the far reaches of Hawaii and every place it stops it has been used as medicine to heal what ails the local population. It has been used to relieve headaches, toothaches,
throat aches and stomachaches. It has been also used in rituals and is thought to have exorcising powers to rid one of the evil spirits. Different parts impart different effects in therapy. In its native place it has been used as an antiinflammatory drug, tranquilizer and haemostatic. As it moves eastwards these properties has been recognized by the Ayurveda practitioners and took advantage of these properties to treat conditions like wasp sting, insomnia, depressions and muscle aches.

In recent time it has been used in the treatment of Diabetes in the form of what is called the Jamaican Tea. This comprise of dried leaves
steep in hot water and drank as a decoction. Noting this to be effective some scientists in mid 1950's did a chemical run down of the leaves and found more than 70 medicinally active molecules useful in the treatment of diabetes, hypertension, cancer and the likes. This lead to the isolation of two drugs which are being used in the treatment of blood and lymphatic cancers. They are vinblastine in the treatment of Lymphomas and Hodgkin's Disease and vincrisitine which is used in the treatment of leukaemia of childhood. These two drug singly or in combination with other cytotoxic drugs has been successful in suppressing these sinister diseases.

However, while patients can attain control over their diseases, the
isolation and use of the pure compound has subjected the body's normal actively dividing cells to the effects of these cytotoxic drugs. Thus these patients has to pay a huge price in term of quality of life secondary to the treatment regime. They suffers form premature balding dues to the destructive effects of the the cytotoxic drugs to the actively dividing hair follicles. They suffer from loss of appetite, intractable vomiting, diarrhoea due to the effects of these cytotoxic drugs on the actively dividing cells of the alimentary tract.

If these drugs were meant to be used for the treatment of malignant condition, I suppose they should be devoid of such side effects suffered by these unfortunate individuals. Perhaps we are looking in the
wrong directions. Perhaps it is meant that the whole leaf be used instead of isolation of the individual drug. Perhaps the precursors and the metabolites in the synthesis of these drugs would act as the modulators of these drugs to make them only recognise the pathological cells rather than the normal actively dividing cells. There must be a sort of marker in the malignant cells which some of the other compounds would have been able to attach to, to make these cytotoxic drug to selectively attack them and not others. Research in this direction may help ease the burden of those who suffers from these condition and make chemotherapy a more palatable method than it is today. Wa Allahu a'lam

For me this plant is a symbol of hope for those who suffers from these yet incurable conditions. One day we may be able to make new understandings of the concept of chemotherapy or otherwise refer to the ancient texts to renew their understanding of this concept and make life more
comfortable for these people.

I rest my case and dedicate this flower as my symbol of hope and purity of the hearts of those who suffers from cancer.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Yang Mekar di Tamanku

Simply means the ones that blooms in my garden. My dear wife blooms daily there in. My children bloom there in too daily. My friends too. But this blog is dedicated to the flowers that bloom in my garden. What they mean to me and my life.

I am a healer and my plants heal people. Indeed they do. The flowers heals by imparting fragrance that fills the air and this is indeed therapeutic. The values that belie within the leaves, the stem, the roots, the flowers, the fruits and the seeds has healed many before us and should continue to heal those present and after us.

This little garden has some 500 different species of plants that has medicinal values to my people. I have collected them over the past 7 years and for the past four months I have given them a full dedication to caring and nurturing them to health and splendour.

Daily I shall post the flower that are showy in my garden and give you a run down of each one as I understand them from the language they speaks.