Cleome viscosa L

[From Greek, kleome = Ancient name for a mustard-like plant and from Latin, viscum = birdlime]

Physical description: It is a tropical, annual, upright, smelly and bitter herb which grows to a height of 30cm-90cm. The stems are grooved, and densely clothed in glandular and simple hairs.

Leaves: 3-5 foliate. The petiole of the lower leaves is 2.5cm-5cm long and becomes shorter upward. The folioles are elliptic, oblong or obovate, acute or obtuse, and the terminal the largest (4.3cm x 2.5cm). The peti-olules are short and hairy. The flowers are yellow, axillary, and organized into lax racemes. The flower pedicels are long and thin, terete, and hairy. The sepals are oblong, lanceolate, 1.2 cm long and conspicuously veined. The andrecium comprises of about 20 stamens. The fruits are 5cm-6.3cm x 4 mm, upright, hairy, obliquely striate and subglobose capsules containing several seeds (Fig. 120).

Fig. 120. Cleome viscosa L.

Synonymy: Cleome icosandra L., Poli-nasia icosandra (L.) Wight. & Arn., Polanisia viscosa DC., Cleome cheli-donii sensu Burk. Dict. (fide Jacobs).

Common names: Sticky cleome; herbe puante, brede puante (French); adityabhaktá, ankakánta (Sanskrit).

Uses: Cleome viscosa L. is a counter-irritant remedy. In Malaysia, Cleome viscosa L. is used to stop flatulence. A decoction is drunk to treat intestinal discomfort, to stop diarrhea and to expel intestinal worms. Externally, the plant is used to assuage headache and to treat rheumatism. In the Philippines, Cleome viscosa L. is used to expel intestinal worms, and maggots from ulcers. A paste of the powdered leaves is used to assuage headache. In Taiwan, the plant is used to treat rheumatism and to expel intestinal worms, while externally, it is used to treat inflamed ears. In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, an infusion is used to counteract putrefaction and the roots are used to treat scurvy. The vapor obtained from steaming a decoction of the whole plant is inhaled to assuage headache. In India, Cleome viscosa L. is used to promote digestion and urination relieve the bowels of costive-ness, expel intestinal worms and to treat inflammation and fever.

Fig. 120. Cleome viscosa L.

Pharmaceutical interest: The counter-irritant property of Cleome viscosa L. is attributed to isothiocyanates (see Cleome gynandra L.).

Cytotoxicity: A number of flavonols characterized from Polinasia dodecandra annihilate efficiently the proliferation of brain cancer cells, non-small cell lung cancer cells, small cell lung cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, colon cancer cells, renal cancer cells, melanoma and leukemia cell-lines cultured in vitro with GI50 values of the micro or nanomolar concentration range (Shi Q et al., 1995). Other cytotoxic natural products characterized from the Cleome species are triterpenes of the dammarane-type (Nagaya H et al, 1997). One of these is polacandrin, characterized from Polinasia dodecan-dra, which inhibits the proliferation of KB (ED50: 0.6 ^g/mL), the P388 (ED50: 0.9 ^g/mL) and RPMI-7951 (ED50:0.62 ^g/mL) cell-lines (Shi Q etal, 1992). It will be interesting to learn whether more intensive future research on Cleome viscosa L. will disclose any molecules of chemotherapeutic interest.

Other properties: Note that the antiseptic, antipyretic, analgesic and antidiar-rheal properties of Cleome viscosa L. are confirmed experimentally in methanol and aqueous extracts of the plant. An aqueous extract inhibits the growth of Aeromonas hydrophilla and Bacillus cereus cultured in vitro (Perumal Samy R et al, 1999). A methanol extract at doses of 200, 300, and 400 mg/Kg administered peros alleviates yeast-induced fever in rats in a dose-dependent manner and as efficiently as paracetamol given at 150 mg/Kg per os (Devi BP et al, 2003). Given orally at doses of 100, 200, 400 mg/Kg this extract protects mice against several types of pain caused experimentally (Devi PB etal, 2003a). It also inhibits castor-oil-induced diarrhea and prostaglandin E2-induced diarrhea and reduces gastrointestinal motility in the charcoal meal test in rats. (Devi BP et al, 2002). It will be interesting to know what are the principles involved here. Are these isothiocyanates? An extract of Cleome droserifolia reduces intestinal glucose absorption and increases peripheral and hepatic insulin sensitivity in tetracycline-induced diabetic albino rats and is described as "promising therapeutic value" in the treatment of diabetes mellitus (NicolaWG etal., 1996).

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