Ecuadorian Chuquiraga may be ‘important source of bioactives’

By Stephen Daniells contact

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Chuquiraga jussieui, the 'Flower of the Andes'. Image  © Getty Images / Joseph Beck
Chuquiraga jussieui, the 'Flower of the Andes'. Image © Getty Images / Joseph Beck
The Andean plant Chuquiraga jussieui J.F.Gmel could be an important source of antioxidant bioactives, says a new study from Ecuador that serves as a basis to further explore the plant’s potential benefits to human health.

Scientists from the Universidad de Las Américas (UDLA) report that Ch. jussieui​ J.F.Gmel is a good source of polyphenols, carotenes and vitamin C, with leaf extracts outperforming flower extracts.

“To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first research data related to the chemical composition and antioxidant capacity of ​Ch. Jussieui J.F.Gmel,” ​they wrote in the journal Natural Product Research​.

“Although this is a pilot study, our findings may serve as a basis for future studies in order to confirm this plant’s potential in preventing oxidative damage and to justify its use as a source of bioactive compounds with relevant health benefits.”

Andean native

Chuquiraga jussieui​ J.F.Gmel grows throughout the Andean region of Ecuador at between 3000 and 5000 meters above sea level. The plant has been used medicinally by the local indigenous populations, with purported benefits including supporting kidney and liver health. Despite this historical use, no scientific study has been performed on the plant.

The new research looks to change that, by examining bioactive content of Ch. jussieui​ J.F.Gmel from different highlands of Ecuador.

The researchers also assessed the potential radical scavenging activity and protection of cell membranes against lipid oxidation of crude methanolic extracts from leaves and flowers.

The results showed that the leaves had the higher content of bioactive compounds, compared to the flowers.

“The highlands of Ecuador are located at an altitude surpassing 3000 meters above sea level, with temperatures ranging between 6 °C and 8 °C during the day, dropping to as low as 0 °C at night,”​ explained the researchers. “Therefore, we assume that the high vitamin C and carotenoids content in Ch. jussieui J.F.Gmel could be associated with the extreme environmental conditions to which the plants are exposed.”

The leaves also performed better than the flowers for scavenging the DPPH, O2− and H2O2 radicals, as well as for protecting red blood cell cellular membranes against lipid oxidation.

“In summary, the findings of this research reveal that Ch. jussieui J.F.Gmel represents an important source of bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, carotenes and vitamin C and proved to be effective in scavenging free radicals as well as in protecting red blood cell membranes against lipid oxidation, where the leaves were noticeably more effective than the flowers,” ​they concluded.

Source: Natural Product Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/14786419.2018.1548450
“Bioactive compounds and antioxidant capacity of ​Chuquiraga jussieui J.F.Gmel from the highlands of Ecuador”
Authors: D.A. Guerrero Bonilla, et al.

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