The authorship of this name is disputed, with some authorities citing the plant as Caralluma adscendens (Roxb.) R.Br. Although the name was proposed by Brown in 1811, the name was not validly published until a year later by Haworth[
Caralluma adscendens (Roxb.) R.Br.
Caralluma attenuata Wight
Caralluma dalzielii N.E.Br.
Caralluma fimbriata Wall.
Caralluma subulata (Forssk.) Decne.
Stapelia adscendens Roxb.
Stapelia subulata Forssk.
Drawing of the flowering plant
Photograph by: Conrad Loddiges
Caralluma adscendens is a small shrub with basally trailing, then upright, much-branched, succulent stems that are usually 30 - 60cm tall but are occasionally up to 100cm. The stem bases are up to 2cm in diameter[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food and medicine. A popular traditional medicine it is also cultivated in many localities[
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
]. It is sold in capsule form on the Internet as an appetite suppressant[
]. Several patents have been issued on the preparation of the plant extract and the use of the pregnane glycosides in the treatment of obesity-related problems[
The Moors people of the western Sahara are said to make a strong poison by macerating the crushed stems in sheep urine[
Tropical Africa - drier areas from Senegal and Mauritania to Somalia; through the Arabian Peninsula to India and Sri Lanka.
Gravelly soils and rocky hills, at elevations from sea-level to 1,000 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of lowland areas in the drier tropics where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It tolerates high temperatures and an annual rainfall as low as 400mm[
In dry rural India the plant (as Caralluma fimbriata) is cooked and eaten with spices as a vegetable, and it is preserved as chutneys and pickles[
]. It is eaten raw by labourers as an appetite and thirst suppressant and endurance enhancer.
The fruits are sometimes cooked and eaten with salt[
The latex obtained from heated stems is used as ear drops to treat ear infections and is applied to the teeth to treat caries[
]. It is also applied to wounds as well as the bites and stings of venomous animals, including spiders, ants, scorpions and snakes, in order to disinfect and heal them[
The crushed aerial parts, combined with the leaves of Ozoroa insignis, are used in the treatment of children's coughs[
The stems are crushed and eaten raw as a tonic against faintness due to fasting and are also used to treat chest and cardiac problems[
]. A decoction of the stems is given to stop vomiting and to treat epilepsy[
The dried plants, or an extract of the plants, has received a lot of attention on the internet as a hunger suppressant to reduce weight[
The plant contains a bitter principle[
The aerial parts of the plants contain a number of pregnane glycosides that have moderate to high cytotoxicity[
The flavonoid luteolin-4’-O-neohesperidoside, found in the aerial parts of the plant, has shown significant anti-inflammatory activity and was more potent than ibuprofen. Its antinociceptive activity was less pronounced when compared with its anti-inflammatory activity[
A butanol extract of the plant has shown statistically significant and considerable antihyperglycaemic activity[
The effect of an extract of the aerial parts was assessed by a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial on 50 adult overweight men and women. At the end of the trial, waist circumference and hunger levels showed a significant decline in the experimental group when compared to the placebo group, but differences in body weight, body mass index, hip circumference, body fat and energy intake were not significant[
Ethylacetate and butanol extracts from the stem have shown significant antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans in vitro as well as good anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma in vitro[
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