Alternanthera sessilis (L.) R. Br., Achyranthes sessilis (L.) Besser, Gomphrena sessilis (L.) (basionym) and Achyranthes sessilis (L.) Besser.
|English||Alligator weed , Sessile joyweed , Dwarf copperleaf|
|French||Brède chevrette, Magloire|
|Chinese||Lian zi cao|
Alternanthera sessilis grows in the tropical regions of the world, especially tropical America, Africa, Asia and also in temperate Asia. It is known as a noxious weed which grows on roadsides, ditches, swamps, gardens, rice fields and tea plantations. Its leaves and young shoots are eaten as vegetable (1) or cooked in soup. A decoction is recommended as an herbal remedy to treat wounds, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, cough, bronchitis, diarrhoea, dysentery and diabetes. Its root can relieve inflamed wounds (2).
A. sessilis is a perennial herb which grows annually up to 1 metre tall, erect, ascending or creeping, often widely branched, with robust taproot; stem striate, terete below, slightly tetragonous above, solid, sometimes floating in water and fistulose in lower part, stem and branches with narrow lines of whitish hairs and branch and leaf axils with tufts of white hairs. Its leaves are opposite, simple with petiole up to 5 mm long; blade linear-lanceolate, oblong to ovate, 1–15 cm × 0.2–3 cm and glabrous to sparsely pilose. The flowers are bisexual, regular, 5-merous; tepals free, equal, ovate to elliptical, up to 2.5 mm long, white to pinkish, 1-veined; stamens united at base into a very short cup, 2 without anthers; ovary superior, strongly compressed, 1-celled, style very short. The fruit is an obreniform, corky, indehiscent capsule 2 mm long, dark brown and 1-seeded. The seed is discoid, 1 mm long and shiny brown in colour.
Plant Part Used
Leaf, Stem, Root
A. sessilis contains 33.26% of lutein out of the total carotenoids that is said to have nutritional purpose.(11)
A. sessilis is known as Matyakshika in Ayurvedic medicine (5). A decoction of the leaves is drunk for treating itchy and overheated skin (6). In Ghana, a decoction with some salt is taken to stop vomiting blood. In Nigeria, the pounded plant is used for headaches and vertigo, the leaf sap is sniffed up the nose to treat neuralgia. A paste is used to draw out spines or any other object from the body, and is also used to cure hernia. In Senegal and India, the leafy twigs are ground to a powder and applied on snakebites. The people of Nepal use its roots for the treatment of stomachache (7). The plant is also used in veterinary medicine in Kenya. A. sessilis is used in local medicine in Taiwan, often in mixtures with other medicinal plants, to treat hepatitis, tight chest, bronchitis, asthma and other lung troubles, to stop bleeding, and as a hair tonic. In India, it is used as a cholagogue, abortifacient and febrifuge. In Thailand and Sri Lanka, it is used as a galactagogue. The leaves and shoots are boiled and drunk as an antihypertensive remedy (4).
The antioxidant activity of A. sessilis was measured by α,α-diphenyl-β-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging activity (8). The ethanol extract of A. sessilis showed 70% free radical scavenging activity. In the hydroxyl radical scavenging activity assay, A. sessilis showed 50% hydroxyl radical scavenging activity which in the anti-FeCl2-H2O2-stimulated linoleic acid peroxidation system, A. sessilis (2-8 mg) inhibited malondialdehyde (MDA) formation by 11.6 to 30.6%. A. sessilis reduced the peroxide value of heated groundnut and sunflower oil up to 4 weeks of storage. The polyphenol content of the leaves was 25mg/g (8).
Oral administration of the water extract of A. sessilis (aerial parts; leaves, stems, flowers) in Swiss mice in daily doses of 16.9 mg, 33.8 mg and 67.7 mg for 14 consecutive days did not result in severe symptoms of toxicity except for diarrhoea in one animal that received the highest dose. In the high dose groups, the water extract of A. sessilis causes histopathological changes in the liver and kidney tissues. There was moderate to severe hepatocyte degeneration in the centrilobular area associated with sinusoidal congestion and focal hepatocellular necrosis, and moderate degeneration of renal tubular cells and necrosis. In a previous study, the alkaloidal extract of A. sessilis injected intraperitoneally into Swiss mice lead to alterations of liver and kidney functions. A. sessilis showed a significant level of cytotoxicity in brine shrimp lethality bioassay (9).
A. sessilis leaves, based on their levels of vegetable fibre (25 g, 50 g and 75 g) were administered to eight normal, healthy volunteers (age range of 21-30 years old) and six non-insulin dependent diabetic volunteers (age range of 45-50 years old) who were withheld from drugs for one week prior to the experiment. Addition of A. sessilis leaves (75 g fibre levels) to the diet of diabetics for 15 days significantly (p<0.05) reduced the post-prandial blood glucose levels (10).
Adverse Effects in Human:
Used in Certain Conditions:
Pregnancy / Breastfeeding
Neonates / Adolescents
Chronic Disease Conditions
Interactions with drugs
Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents
Addition of fat (coconut) while cooking A. sessilis leaves increased the content of all-trans- β-carotene (1).