Begonia species

[From Michel Begon, a French administrator of Louis XIV King of France]

Physical description: The leaves of Begonia species are succulent, alternate, distichous, long-petiolate, stipulate, simple and cauline or from rhizomes. The blade is cordate at the base and very asymmetrical. The margin is toothed or lobed. The flowers are monoecious, in clusters of axillary cymes. The male flowers are actinomorphic or not, showy, pink, white or reddish. The perianth comprises of 4 tepals, the pair of outer ones large and petal-like.The andrecium comprises of several 2-celled and basixified stamens forming a dense capitu-lum.The female flowers comprise of as many 2-lobed or branched styles as the locules. The stigmas are prominent, and the placentation in the ovary is axillary. The fruits are loculicidal or irregularly dehiscent asymmetrical 3-winged capsules containing several seeds which are very small.

Pharmaceutical potential: A number of plants classified within the genus Begonia are counter-irritant. In Malaysia, Begonia isoptera Dryand. is pounded

and applied externally to assuage the discomfort caused by an enlarged spleen. A handful of Begonia fimbristipulata Hance is boiled in water and the decoction is used to relieve cough, stop haemoptysis, and to treat fever and pneumonia. A paste made from the same plant is applied to swollen parts, sprains and burns. In Papua New Guinea, the sap expressed from the leaves of Begonia augustae Irmsch. is used as a counter-irritant remedy to soothe inflamed areas. The ashes of the leaves of several Begonia species are applied to the umbilical cord, and the leaves are heated and applied to the skin to assuage abdominal pain. In the Philippines, the leaves of Begonia oblonga Merr. are used to counteract the toxic effect of Dioscorea. In the Solomon islands, a decoction of the leaves of the Begonia species is used to assuage stomach discomfort. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the roots of the Begonia species are used to promote urination and milk secretion, and to relieve the bowels of costiveness.

HO OH

Oxalic acid

Pharmaceutical interest: The counter-irritant property of the Begonia species is attributed to the crystals of oxalic acid which abound in the plant. Crystals of oxalic acid are sharp and irritate the mucosa and the epidermis. Begonia species have attracted a great deal of interest on account of cucur-bitacins (see p.). An extract of Begonia plejeba displays a characteristic pattern of differential cytotoxicity profile predominantly toward renal and brain tumors and melanoma in the NCI human disease-oriented screening panel. Furtherfractionations resulted in the characterization of cucur-bitacin B (Fuller RW etal., 1994).

Cucurbitacin B (R= Ac) Cucurbitacin D (R= H)

Cucurbitacin B (R= Ac) Cucurbitacin D (R= H)

Constipation Prescription

Constipation Prescription

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