Monday, July 2, 2012

Ageratum - Blue Billy Goat Weed

Ageratum conyzoides

 A. conyzoides has long been used medicinally around the globe, in addition to possessing insecticidal and nematodicidal activity.
Ageratum conyzoides
Blue Billy Goat Weed
ASTERACEAE

Identification
Erect herbaceous annual, 30-80cm.
 Composite flowers of pale blue/lilac
Entire plant covered in fine white hairs.
Broad ovate leaves, tapering point, serrated margins, soft to touch. Leaves are variable in size and shape, but similar.
Leaves are strongly scented
Fruit is an achene
Cultivation 
Weed, don’t cultivate!
This weed prefers open spaces, paddocks etc, and moisture, but will tolerate dry areas.
Ageratum has a natural range from North America to Central America and the Caribbean.
Flowers  Year round
Fruits   X
Etymology  
a geras” (Greek) – non-aging, referring to the longevity of the flowers and plant
conyzoides” (Greek) – from “k√≥nyz” the greek name for Inula helenium , which it resembles
Warning  
Due to conflicting reports on the edibility of this plant I cannot recommend its use as an edible plant.
Edibility
Caution recommended
Medicinal
Antibacterial – Leaf – wound healing
Insecticidal – (leaf oil) against weevils





Ageratum Flowers


Whilst A. conyzoides has traditionally been eaten as a vegetable, contemporary researchers have discovered in it potential hepatotoxic compounds, which is why I cannot recommend its use as a vegetable today. However, being young, strong and healthy with no liver complaints, I would eat it myself if I were hungry and lacking other food sources. Other studies have found the essential elements K, Na, Ca, Fe, Mg, Mn and Zn and the non-essential elements Al, Ba, Sr and Rb to be present in significant concentrations. Other elements present at trace levels include Co, Cr, Sc and V. The researchers conducting these studies appear to believe that the presence of the elements calcium, potassium and sodium may be responsible for disease prevention in traditional usage, and that Iron Manganese and Zinc presence which are present in hormone, insulin, protein and immune reactions may also contribute to its healing properties in traditional medicine which include the treatment of diabetes, diarrhoea and infertility. These same researchers, however, warn against indiscriminate use (ingestion) of A. conyzoides due to the presence of Barium, which has the potential to accumulate in the body through repeated use and is a known toxin (Dim et al, 2004).

Ageratum -leaf detail
.
Ageratum - opposite leaves. Note hairs
covering plant.

In studies conducted by Borthakur and Baruah (1987) the essential oil of  A. conyzoides has been shown to contain compounds that act as antijuvenile hormones in insects, effectively rendering them sterile, which would explain its use as an insecticide.

Blue Billy Goat Weed has been used to treat  wounds, bites, burns, typhoid fever, ‘body swelling’, tumours and as a ‘hair lotion’. Unfortunately, although several papers have listed which ailments Ageratum has been used to treat, they rarely go into any detail as to which part of the plant was used or how it was prepared. In Africa it has been used to treat pneumonia, although specifics on how to use the plant are not given. Its most common use appears to have been as a fresh leaf poultice for wounds, cuts bites or skin complaints, and this is most likely due to its antibacterial properties. This plant has also shown anti-inflammatory activity and increased wound healing in clinical trials on rats. In South America, A. Conyzoides twigs have been used as a vegetable. Following is a list of its medicinal uses;
Wounds, Bites, Burns –  the leaves are made into a paste and applied directly.
Colic, Colds, Fevers, Diarrhoea, Rheumatism, muscle spasms and as a tonic – aqueous extract (which I assume means a decoction or infusion), although wether for internal or external use is not specified.
Headache – poultice of boiled leaf paste
Bacteriocide, Antidysentric, Fever, Colic – no details given
Ageratum - overall habit
Overall I would suggest only using this plant externally.

References
Dim, L., Funtua, I., Oyewale, A., Grass, F., Umar, I., Gwozdz, R. & Gwarzo, U. 2004. Determination of some elements in Ageratum conyziodes, a tropical medicinal plant, using instrumental neutron activation analysis. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry 261 (1) 225-228

Gbolade, A. , Onayade, O. &  Ayinde, B. 1999.  Insecticidal Activity of Ageratum conyzoides L. Volatile Oil against Callosobruchus maculatus F. in Seed Treatment and Fumigation Laboratory Tests. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science  19 : 237-240

Ming, L.C. 1999.  Ageratum conyzoides, A tropical source of medicinal and agricultural products. In: Janick, J. (ed.) Perspectives on New Crops and New Uses.

Saikia , B.,  Rethy,  P.  Gajurel, P.  & Doley, B. 2012. Exotic wild edible plants of Sonitpur District, Assam. Journal Of Biosciences Research 3(1):71-75

Saklani, S. &  Jain, S. 1989. Ethnobotanical Observations on Plants Used in Northeastern India.  1989, Vol. 27, No. 2 , Pages 65-73

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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  2. very interesting plant. good informations
    this is fantastic organic oil rosehip oil

    ReplyDelete