Achyrocline candicans (Kunth) DC.
Achyrocline vargasiana DC.
Gnaphalium candicans Kunth
Gnaphalium satureioides Lam.
Common Name: Macela
Macela is a perennial plant with a woody rootstock, with stems that are woody at the base and up to 2 metres long[
A popular herbal remedy in S. America, the plant is gathered from the wild for local medicinal use. It is sold in local markets in Peru[
], and is sometimes cultivated in Brazil for its medicinal uses[
S. America - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana.
Dry, high and sunny soils. Also over rocks and road borders[
]. Usually found in sandy soils at elevations below 2,000 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Found in tropical and subtropical climates at elevations up to 2,000 metres.
Prefers a sandy soil[
Macela is a popular herbal medicine in many parts of S. America, where the whole plant, or sometimes just the flowers, is commonly drunk as a tea. It is particularly valued for its beneficial effect upon the entire digestive system, but is also used to treat various other complaints.
Modern research has confirmed the presence of a number of medically active compounds in the plant, especially flavonoids and terpenes[
In modern trials, the plant has demonstrated pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and smooth-muscle (gastrointestinal) relaxant properties internally without toxicity, in addition to anti-inflammatory and pain-relief actions externally[
In vitro studies have demonstrated that macela is molluscicidal (in a test used to ascertain its effectiveness against the tropical disease schistosomiasis), and active against Salmonella, E. Coli, and Staphylococcus[
The plant has also been shown to be a strong antioxidant, to increases the flow of bile from the gallbladder, to help protect against liver damage and to lower liver enzymes levels[
A water extract of the entire plant has been shown to lower blood sugar levels - this hypoglycaemic action has been attributed to a novel plant chemical found in macela called achyrofuran[
Macela has been reported to inhibit cancer cell growth in vitro, whilst an extract of the flowers has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells by 67% in vitro[
Extracts of the whole dried plant have shown strong immuno-stimulant activity by increasing phagocytosis and immune cell activity[
The plant has also demonstrated antiviral properties against HIV and Pseudorabies (a type of animal herpes virus)[
Traditionally, the plant is considered antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, bitter tonic, digestive, emmenagogue and sedative[
]. An infusion is used in the treatment of a range of digestive disorders including indigestion, stomach-ache, nervous colic, diarrhoea, dysentery and nausea[
]. It is also used in the treatment of diabetes (type 2), epilepsy, liver problems, asthma and to regulate menstruation[
Applied externally, it is used to treat rheumatism, neuralgia, sore muscles, and even menstrual pain318].
The flower-heads are used in medicinal wines and bitters[
The flowers are crushed and added to pillows as a natural sleeping aid (much in the same manner as hop flowers(Humulus lupulus))[
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