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Family Acanthaceae
Mountain thistle
Acanthus montanus Nees


Scientific names Common names
Acanthus barteri T.Anderson Alligator plant (Engl.)
Acanthus montanus (Nees) T. Anderson False thistle (Engl.)
Cheilopsis montana Nees Mountain thistle (Engl.)
  Leopard's tongue (Engl.)
Acanthus montanus (Nees) T.Anderson is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
GERMAN: Gebirgs-akanthus.
NIGERIAN: Agamobo, Agameebu, Aga.

Acanthus montanus is plant growing to a height of 1.5 meters. Leaves are shallow to deeply lobed, toothed with short spines, dark glossy green above and pale green below. Flowers are pink to reddish in long erect spikes.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Rarely cultivated.

- Phytochemical screening of root extract yielded an abundance of alkaloids and carbohydrates,
with traces of saponins, glycosides and terpenoids. (2) Phtochemical screening yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, steroids, saponins, tannins, and terpenoids. (see study below) (14)
- GC-MS analysis of ethanolic extract of leaves yielded nine compounds:
2,6-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-methyl phenol 13.68 % (1), allyl(2-tetrahydrofuryl methoxy)dimethylsilane 3.86 % (2), sulfurous acid cyclohexylmethyl hexyl ester 5.67 % (3), alpha-methyl 4- methylmannoside 8.41 % (4), hexadecanoic acid methyl ester 16.12 % (5), 11-octadecenoic acid methyl ester 19.03 % (6), docosane 5.85 % (7), N,N-dimethylvaleramide 18.62 % (8) and 2,6,10,15-tetramethyl heptadecane 8.76 % (9). (see study below) (15)
- Study of alcohol extract of aerial parts yielded nine compounds: β- sitosterol-3-O- β –D-glucoside (1), palmitic acid (2), linaroside (3), homoplantagenin (4), 5, 7, 3′- trihydroxy-6,4′ -dimethoxy flavone-7-O-glucoside(5), shikimic acid (6), protochatecuic acid (7), blepharin (8), and acetoside (9). (see study below) (17)

- Studies have suggested antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, antifertility, fetotoxic, relaxant, anthelmintic, mosquitocidal properties.

Parts used
Leaves, roots.

- In Africa, considered an underutilized vegetable. Considered a famine food.
- No known medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In southeastern Nigeria, roots used for furuncles, leaves used for boils on the fingers. Leaves also used for coughs.
- In African traditional medicine, used for urogenital infections, urethral pain, endometritis, cystitis, aches and pains. (2)
- In the Congo, central portion of twigs or leaves applied as hot poultice to mature abscesses; decoction of leaf and twigs used as purgative.
- In Cameroon, used for treatment of epilepsy and fever. (21) Also used for pain, inflammation and threatened abortion; leaf infusion used for cough and chest complaints.
- In Gabon, leaf-macerate used in children as emetic; fresh young growths used for heart troubles.
- In south eastern Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, used for the treatment of gonorrhea, syphilis, wounds, and boils. Also sued for hypertension, cardiac dysfunctions, and hepatitis. (15)
- Phytochemical screening of crude extract yielded sterols +++, tannins +, flavonoids +++, lipids +, glycosides ++ and sugars +, with absence of phenols, triterpenes, saponins, alkaloids. (see study below) (23)

Analgesic / Leaves:
The Analgesic effect of the methanolic leaf extract was studied in rats and mice. Results showed dose dependent increases in pain threshold. The study indicated that the analgesic effect of Acanthus montanus methanolic extract is both centrally and peripherally mediated. (1) Analgesic tests conducted revealed the extract had only peripheral analgesic properties. (6)
Anti-Inflammatory / Antimicrobial / Immunologic / Roots:
Acanthus montanus: An experimental evaluation of the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunological properties of a traditional remedy for furuncles. The aqueous root extract showed moderate antimicrobial activity against P aeruginosa and S aureus, the usual pathogens in boils. It inhibited (57%) topical acute edema in mouse ear induced by xylene, and suppressed the development of rat paw edema in a non-dose related manner. It inhibited vascular permeability induced by acetic acid in mice and hemolysis of ox RBCs induced by heat and hypotonicity. Extract also increase total leukocyte and neutrophil counts and cause significant increase in macrophages. The effectiveness of use of roots in the treatment of furuncles may be due to mobilization of leukocytes to the site of infection and activation of phagocytic activity and suppression of exacerbated immune responses. (see constituents above) (2)
• Acute Toxicity Study / Roots:
Acute toxicity study of root extract established an oral and intraperitoneal LD50 greater than 5,000 mg/kg. (2)
Safety / Toxicity Studies:
Study of leaves extract on Wistar pregnant rats showed no maternal or organ toxicity. Embyotoxicity was observed during organogenesis with signs of growth retardation which were not manifest after 5 days of postnatal survival. The extract can be tolerated by pregnant patients.
Antifertility / Fetotoxic Activities: Study showed reversible prolongation of the metestrous and occasionally the diestrous stages of the estrous cycle. The extract showed a lack of estrogenic and progestational effects. At 1000 mg/kg/day, the extract caused appreciable implantation losses. The extract also caused delayed fetal growth. (3)
Hepatoprotective: Study showed the alcoholic and aqueous extracts of leaf and stem of Acanthus montanus may prevent liver damage induced by carbon tetrachloride in rats. (6)
Relaxant Activity: Study investigated a methanolic extract of A. montanus on different smooth muscle preparations. The extract produced a concentration-dependent relaxation and inhibition of spontaneous contraction of rabbit jejunum. The extract shifted the concentration-response curves of CaCl2 to the right in a concentration-dependent manner on guinea- pig taenia coli. Results suggest a non-specific smooth muscle relaxant activity. (11)
Anthelmintic Against Strongylid Nematodes / Leaves: Study investigated the anthelmintic efficacy of crude aqueous leaf extract of A. montnus against strongylid nematodes of small ruminants using in-vitro egg hatch and larval growth inhibition assay. Extract showed 100% inhibition at 200 mg/ml concentration, equivalent to 3.125 mg/ml albendazole. Larval growth inhibition showed 67.02% and 85.26% larval inhibition at 25 mg/ml and 200 mg/ml concentrations. Albendazole showed 100% larval inhibition. (12)
• Subacute Toxicity Study: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of A. montanus for subacute toxicity in female Wistar rats with doses ranging from 0, 125, 250, 500, and 1000 mg/kg/day for 30 days. Results showed A. montana showed no effects on hematological, biochemical and oxidative stress markers. However at dose >500 mg/kg, there were nephrotoxic and hypercreatinine effects, which is below the nominal human value. (13)
• Antidiabetic / Roots: Study evaluated various extracts of Acanthus montanus roots for antidiabetic activity in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Intraperitoneal administration caused a significant reduction in blood sugar levels ranging from 21.01 to 49.20% compared to glibenclamide at 51.78%. The EA fraction of Acanthus montanus showed significant and dose-dependent hypoglycemic activity in normoglycemic and alloxan induced diabetic rats. (see constituents above) (14)
• Antibacterial / Leaves: Ethanolic extract of leaves showed marked antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, and Proteus mirabilis. (see constituents above) (15)
• Effect of Processing on Biochemical Contents of Leaves: The moisture, crude protein, lipid, fiber ash, and total carbohydrates of raw vegetable were 59.15, 1.85, 2.32, 3.76, 2.04, and 34.65 g/100 g, respectively. The saponin, alkaloid, tannin, flavonoid, phenol and anthocyanin contents of raw vegetable were 5.34, 4.04, 1.10, 3.53, 2.87, and 1.27 g/100 g, respectively. Elemental and vitamin composition (mg/100g) were calcium 2.65 mg, magnesium 1.14 mg, potassium 7.66 mg, vitamin A 350.75 µg/g, vitamin C 50.87 mg/100g. Boiling or boiling + sun-drying of leaves caused significant (p<0.05) reductions in many of the constituents. Sun drying alone retained or enhanced the release of some important bioactive compounds in the leaves. Reduced moisture content of sun-dried vegetables together with increase titrable acidity renders the vegetable uninhabitable to microorganisms, thereby increasing its shelf life. (16)
• Mosquitocidal / Aedes aegypti / Aerial Parts: Phytochemical screening of alcoholic extract of aerial parts isolated nine compounds, eight of which exhibited variable degrees of insecticidal activity. Compound 1, ß-sitosterol-3-O-ß-D-glucoside exhibited potent mosquitocidal activity (100%) mortality against adult Aedes aegypti at 1.25 µg/ml concentration, followed by palmitic acid (90%), linroside (39%), and acetoside (7%). (see constituents above) (17)
• Comparative Hypoglycemic Activities / Synergism of Combinational Formulation: Study evaluated crude aqueous and ethanol leaf extracts of four medicinal plants viz., Acanthus montanus, Asystasia gangetica, Emilia coccinea, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and their combinational formulation in their ability to ameliorate hyperglycemia in type 1 diabetic rats. Results showed the ethanol extracts exhibited greater capacity to lower fasting blood glucose concentrations. The ethanol extract of combinational formulation of the four plants showed highest capacity to lower FBGC than any individual plant. (18)
• Effect on Spermatogenesis / Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of aqueous extract of leaves of A. montanus on spermatogenesis in Swiss albino mice. The extract reversibly improved spermatogenic activity. The gonadosomatic index remained stable irrespective on increase of extract concentration. The increase in spermatogenic index and total spermatogenic yielded suggest a potential as herbal remedy for spermatogenic dysfunction. (19)
• Corrosion Inhibitor: Study evaluated leaves, stems, and root extracts for sustainable and eco-friendly corrosion inhibition in IM Hcl. The plant extract reduced corrosion rate of mild steel in the corrosive medium. Corrosion inhibition increased with increase in concentration. Activity was attributed to the extract molecules being able to get absorbed to the metal surface creating a barrier between the acid and the mid steel. (20)
• Sedative / Anticonvulsant / Leaves: Study of leaves of A. montanus in mice showed sedative and anticonvulsant activities in mice. Sleep induction was induced by valium, and seizure induction was induced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), pentylenetetrazome (PTZ), and thiosemicarbaside (TSC). (21)
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of an aqueous extract of Acanthus montanus using carrageenan-induced paw edema in mice, and compared with diclofenac and L-NAME (L-nitro arginine methyl ester). Results showed significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced mouse paw edema. Results suggest the anti-inflammatory activity of AM aqueous extract could be due to nitric oxide (NO) inhibition. (22)
• Antimycobacterial: Study evaluated crude extracts of six Cameroonian medicinal plants for in vitro antimycobacterial activity on virulent strain, H37Rv. The six extracts, A. montanus, B. obscura, C. petiolata, E. chlorantha, U. repens and G. preussii, were active with MICs ranging from 31.25 µg/ml to 250 µg/ml. The most active was B. obscura at MIC 31.25. Acanthus montanus showed an MIC of 62.5 µg/ml with growth inhibition of 95.06%. (see constituents above ) (23)
• Hypoglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic / Polyherbal Formulation: A polyherbal formulation consisting of aqueous extracts of Acanthus montanus, E. coccinea, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and Asystasia gangetica showed dose- and duration-of-admiistration-dependent, significant (p<0.05) reductions in serum levels of glucose, TC, triacylglycerol and LDL-C, with a significant (p<0.05) increase in HDL-C concentrations. (24)
• Hepato-Renal Protective / Polyherbal Leaf Formulation: Study investigated the capacity of single and combinational herbal formulations of leaf extracts of Acanthus montanus, Asystasia gangetica, Emilia coccinea, and Hibiscus rosa-sineneis to reverse renal and hepatic injuries in alloxan-induced hyperglycemic Wistar rats. Herbal treatments restored cellular integrity and reversed glomeruli atrophy and turf disarrangement, along with changes in blood biochemical markers suggesting restoration of cellular integrity. Results showed varying capacities of single and combinational benefits in reversing renal and hepatic injuries in hyperglycemic rats. (25)
• Contractile Ability on Rat Uterus: Study evaluated the uterine contractile activity of A. montanus extract sing Ugo basile organ bath model 4050 on female Wistar rats.
Oxytocin and acetylcholine produced significant contraction of rat uterus. Administration of extract produced a significant (p=0.5) dose-dependent reduction in oxytocin and acetylcholine induced contractions. Results showed the ME of A. montanus possess anti-contractile activity on uterine smooth muscles in non-pregnant rats, which corroborates the use of the extract in the treatment of spontaneous abortion. The absence of death at 5000 mg/kg of the methanol extract shows the lethal dose is higher than 5000 mg/kg, which may be a indication of safety of the plant. (26)
• Biphasic Activity on Uterine Smooth Muscle / ASE: Study reported on the effects of A. montanus aqueous extract, fractions, and ASE (Acanthus sulphate ester), a newly isolated sulphate ester, on rat uterus. The extract showed biphasic action with initial relaxation (IC50 3.00 mM) of spontaneous uterine contraction followed by stimulation (IC50 0.63 mM). The fraction showed both relaxation and contraction depending on polarity of extraction solvent. 100% methanolic fraction (IC50 150.0 µM) and ASE (131.0 µM) contracted the uterus. Involvement of both extracellular and intracellular ionic channels of calcium and potassium were observed; they were probably involved in the mechanism of ASE. (27)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D. / StuartXchange

Updated August 2018 / March 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Analgesic effect and relaxant activity of methanolic leaf extract of Acanthus montanus
Acanthus montanus: An experimental evaluation of the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory
and immunological properties of a traditional remedy for furuncles
/ Charles O Okoli et al / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008, 8:27 / doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-27
Antifertility and fetotoxic activities of Acanthus montanus aqueous extract in Wistar rats / Asongalem EA et al / Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Sep;30(7):521-8.
Maternal and developmental toxicity evaluation of Acanthus montanus leaves extract administered orally to Wistar pregnant rats during organogenesis / P Nana et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Volume 116, Issue 2, 5 March 2008, Pages 228-233 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.11.021

The analgesic effect of the methanolic extract of Acanthus montanus / Olufunmilayo O Adeyemi et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology • Volume 90, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 45-48 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2003.09.021
Prevention of Carbon Tetrachloride (CCl4)-Induced Liver Damage in Rats by Acanthus montanus / K C Patrick et al / Asian Journal of Biochemistry • Volume: 3, Issue: 4, Page No.: 213-220. 2008 /
DOI: 10.3923/ajb.2008.213.220
Local plants show promise as pain-relievers /
Yoruba traditional religion site
Antiinflammatory, lack of central analgesia and antipyretic properties of Acanthus montanus (Ness) T. Anderson / Asongalem EA, Foyet HS et al /
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Nov;95(1):63-8.
Acanthus montanus / Synonyms / The Plant List
Sorting Acanthus names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The Univers ity of Melbourne. Australia.
The relaxant activity of the methanolic extract of Acanthus montanus on intestinal smooth muscles / Olufunmilayo O Adeyemi, Steve O Okpo, Chizaram C Young-Nwafor / Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Volume 68, Issues 1–3, 15 December 1999, Pages 169–173 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(99)00084-7
Anthelminthic Efficacy of Aqueous Extract of Acanthus Montanus Leaf Against Strongylid Nematodes of Small Ruminants / M Adamu, O D Oshadu, and C I Ogbajea / Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med., 2010; 7(4): pp 279-285 / PMCID: PMC3005400 / PMID: 21731157
Subacute Toxicity Study of the Aqueous Extract from Acanthus montanus / Djami Tchatchou Arnaud Thierry, Asongalem Emmanuel Acha, Nana Paulin, Choumessi Aphrodite, Kamtchouing Pierre, Asonganyi Tazoacha / Electronic Journal of Biology
Chromatographic and anti-diabetic studies on root extract of Acanthus montanus (Acanthaceae) /  Odoh, U. E. and Ezugwu, C. O. / International Journal of Current Research
Chemical Characterization and Investigation of the Bio- effects of the Leaves of Acanthus montanus (Acanthaceae) on Some Selected Microorganisms / Okenwa U. Igwe and Jude C. Nnaji / International Journal of ChemTech Research, Nov-Dec 2014; Vol 6, No 14: pp 5554-5561
Effect of processing on the biochemical contents of Acanthus montanus (Nees) T. Anderson (Acanthaceae) leaves / Andrew Igwe, Chinedum Eleazu / Food Science & Nutrition, March 2018; Vol 6, Issue 2: pp 388-394 / https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.567
Potent Insecticidal Secondary Metabolites from the Medicinal Plant Acanthus montanus / Elham Amin, Mohamed M. Radwan, Seham S. El-Hawary, Magda M. Fathy, Rabab Mohammed, James J. Becnel and Ikhlas Khan / Rec. Nat. Prod., 2012; 6(3): pp 301-305
Comparative Hypoglycemic Activities of Aqueous and Ethanolic Extracts of Four Medicinal Plants (Acanthus montanus, Asystasia gangetica, Emilia coccinea and Hibiscus rosasinensis) in Type I Diabetic Rats / Okey Alphonsus Ojiako, Paul Chidoka Chikezie, Agomuo Chizaramoku Ogbuji / Complement Med Res., 2015; 4(3): pp 228-233 / doi: 10.5455/jice.20150508045222
Investigation on the effect of aqueous Leaf extract of Acanthus montanus on spermatogenesis in Swiss mice / Eme Efioanwan Orlu and Adetutu Obulor / IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, May-June 2014; Vol 9, Issue 3 Ver. V: pp 44-49
Acanthus montanus Extract as Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Corrosion Inhibitor of Mild Steel in Acidic Medium / Nkechi Emea Ibisi and Chibuzo Ufodiama / Int. J. Res. Chem. Environ., April 2016; Vol 6, Issue 2: pp 23-27
Sedative and anticonvulsant properties of the leaves of Acanthus montanus in mice / P. Nana, E.A. Asongalem, H.S. Foyet and P. Kamtchouing
Protective Effect of Acanthus Montanus in Carrageenan-Induced Models of Local Inflammation: Inhibitory Effect on Nitric Oxide (NO) Production / Foyet Harquin Simplice, Nana Paulin, Chounfack Elvis, Asongalem Emmanuel Acha, Dimo Théophile, Kamtchouing Pierre / Pharmacologyonline, 2008; 2: pp 161-169
In vitro antimycobacterial activity of six Cameroonian medicinal plants using microplate alamarBlue assay / Céline Nguefeu Nkenfou, Isabelle Kamga Mawabo, Augustin Notedji, Jean Nkenfou, Patrick Valere Tsouh Fokou, Jean Bosco Jouda, Jules-Roger Kuiate / International Journal of Mycobacteriology, 2015; 4: pp 306–311
Biochemical evaluation of the effects of Nigerian polyherbal preparation on Wistar rabbits / Ken C. Anugweje, Okey A. Ojiako, Chidi U. Igwe, Winnifred A. Nwachukwu, and Chiza A. Ogbuji / Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2012; 2(6): pp 198-211
Histopathological studies of renal and hepatic tissues of hyperglycemic rats administered with traditional herbal formulations / Okey Alphonsus Ojiako, Paul Chidoka Chikezie, Agomuo Chizaramoku Ogbuji / Int J Green Pharm, 2015; 9: 184-191 / DOI: 10.4103/0973-8258.161237
Phytochemical Screening and Contractile Activity of Methanol Extracts of Acanthus montanus on Albino Rat Uterus / F. E. Okieimen, O. J. Owolabi, O. Iyekowa and M. E. Jonathan* / Journal of Pharmaceutical Research International, 2018; 22(2): pp 1-7

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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