Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ekor Kuching - Uraria crinita (L.) Desv. ex DC.

Ekor Kuching (pronounched as: Air-kur Coo-ching) or translated as Cat's Tail. Other recorded names of this plant includes: Ekor Anjing, Serengan Hutan, Kedudong Padang, Keretok Babi; the Javanese called it Buntut anjing, Buntut Kuching while in Thailand it is called Hang karwk and khi non. The Chinese called them 兔尾草 or the rabbit's tail grass. This plant is native to India, Myanmar, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Taiwan and Tropical Australia.

I first spotted this plant at the Taman Herba Sungai Batu Pahat, Perlis where it is labelled as Acalypha hispida. Unfortunately, this glaring error in naming the plant was left uncorrected after my many other visits there. I don't whether they have corrected it now or not since I have not been there for ages. Anyway the specimen I have was dug up by a friend in Perlis. I transplanted it onto my land at Bukit Puteri and it has been flowering continuously since. Unfortunately, I have not seen any seedlings sprouting. This particular plant in still in poly bag a cutting from the mother plant. Thus it can be propagated by seeds and also cuttings.

This is one plant with a very interesting flowering spike. The flowers comes in three shades actually; violet, pink and white giving it a very pleasant tricolour look.

A close-up of the flowers

Parts used in traditional medicine are the roots, the leaves and the flowers.

The roots are boiled and used internally to treat the following conditions; diarrhoea, dysentery, meteorism in children (where its antiflatulant properties is imparted), dispelling intestinal worms. This decoction is also given to women after childbirth to help hasten the resolution of the uterus. In Thailand this same decoction is also being used in treatment of severe cancer colon (This anticancer properties has been proven by studies done).

The leaves are crushed and applied on the head to get rid of lice. While at the same time this crushed leaves when applied on the abdomen is used to treat hepatosplenomegaly.

The flowers is used as part of a compound medicine for treatment of pimples appearing after smallpox.

In China this plant is used to stop bleeding, to reduce fever and to relieve cough. The whole plant is being used and it is said that amongst its properties are antitoxic, haemostatic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory.

In Taiwan, it is used to treat malnutrition in children, bone dysplasia, and also to treat wounds. It is also used to arrest haematemesis and haemoptysis and also traumatic. The plant has been used in treatment of prolapse anus and uterus. The Taiwanese say that the plant can be harvested throughout the year but between August ad December is the better time whence it medicinal properties is at its best. The plant is also used in Taiwanese cooking where it is said to impart flavour to broth and meat dishes.

In traditional Chinese medicine it is described as sweet and neutral.

Chemical run down of the plant has not been done completely but there is a mention of the presence of various flavinoids, carbohydrates and vitamins. One research article mentioned the presence of a substance called Genistein as being responsible for its antioxidant activity.

Genistein [4',5,7-Trihydroxyisoflavone]

It is an isoflavone generally found in soya bean. It has antioxidant activities which is cancer preventive. It has been found that isoflavones also have an antiangigenic property which inhibits the formation of new blood vessels. This action probably is why Uraria crinita is said to be good for colonic carcinoma. Now they say that such substance when given early in life may be cancer protective however if developing foetus or women in menopause were to take it then it may act as stimulant to cancer-producing substance. I suppose by this they mean it would be good for children to take soya milk but not pregnant mothers and grannies. Another study on Genistein indicates that it may increase the risk of people developing leukaemia because apparently it has inhibitory activity towards an enzyme topoisomerase which protects DNA's from mutation. It has been noted that some cancer patients who has been put on topoisomerase inhibitors later develop leukaemia. Another study shows that isoflavone as oestrogenic activities i.e simulating oestrogens in developing and maintaining the female characteristics. Now they are telling us that men taking soya bean may develop gynaecomastia??

These makes one wonders how safe is the world and the food we take. But remember they have isolated these substances and run tests on them to determine their propeties. But in soya bean or other vegetative products containing isoflavones they exist in combination with other substances. These other substances can act as modulators to modulate the activities of other substances so that a balance is rendered and the product is safe for human consumption. Now where is my tauhu sumbat !!! You know may be the kuah kachang contains the modulating substance that pervents my from developing gynaecomastia after so many years of eating tauhu sumbat. hehehe

The Chinese apparently has much use of this plant as medicine and where it is not a weed, it is being cultivated and harvested as food additives and medicine.

If this flower bears germinating seeds I may have this plant on sale soon .. :)

1 comment:

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