Curing gout with Vietnamese medicinal plants

Targeting finding chemicals that have the abilities to cure gout using medicine from the sources in Vietnam, a group of scientists of Graduate University of Science and Technology, Vietnam Academy Science and Technology has proceeded with the project: “Research on antioxidant and enzyme-inhibiting active ingredients of gout from some Vietnamese medicinal plants” (code: GUST.STS.ĐT2020-HH01). This project, under Dr. Truong Ngoc Minh, was obtained and rated as Fair.

Xanthine oxidase is an enzyme which is the main cause of increasing uric acid syndrome in blood and gout. This enzyme plays an important role in catalyzing the oxidation of xanthine and hypoxanthine to uric acid. When the amount of uric acid in the blood increases, it leads to precipitation of urate crystals, mainly concentrated in the joints of the hands and feet, causing waves of severe arthritis (severe gout attack). Therefore, one of the methods to cure gout is to upset the activity of enzyme xanthine oxidase and prevent oxidation to minimize the formation of uric acid in the blood.

During the research process, the scientists have selected three medicinal plants including Buddha Belly plant (Jatropha Podgorica), Knotweed (Rumex Acetosa) and Moringa Oleifer. All three of these plants are very popular in Vietnam, and have high content of biologically active substances.

Buddha Belly plant has the scientific name Jatropha Podgorica and belongs to Euphorbiaceous. In Vietnam, it is also known by other names such as hybrid oil with tubers, lotus hyacinth or lotus leaf hybrid oil. Buddha Belly originated from tropical Americas, however, it is now grown widely in tropical countries around the world.

Picture 1. Sample of dry Buddha Belly plant and Buddha Belly plant in the nature

Knotweed has other names like cow tongue, sugar, rhubarb, and it has the scientific name is Rumex Acetosa belongs to Laksa leaves (Polygonaceae). These plants can commonly found on wastelands, this species is a serious invasive weed of farmland found on most soils, except highly acidic soils.

Picture 2. Drawing depicting Knotweed (Rumex acestosa) and dried specimens

Moringa oleifera (MO) is the only genus in the family Moringa (Moringaceae), which includes 13 species, and is the most common one. The plant is native to India, Arabia, Africa, and the American Far West; it was grown naturally in tropical Africa, tropical America, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Malabar, Malaysia and the Philippines. In Vietnam, for a long time, the plant has been grown in Nha Trang, Phan Thiet and Phu Quoc.

Figure 3. Characteristic parts of moringa

The team's results show that the body of Jatropha podagrica, rhizomes of oleander (Rumex acetosa L.) and moringa twigs (Moringa oleifera) can be used to treat gout and contribute to the medicinal properties of 3 studied medicinal plants. The antioxidant components derived from these 3 plant parts are mainly present in the ethyl acetate extract. The isolated compounds had stronger antioxidant activity than the BHT positive control such as fraxetin and tomentin in the bark of field corn and 7 compounds chrysophanol, physcion, nepalenside A, nepalenside B, torachrysone, emodin and citreorosein in the body of knotweed.

Thus, the study on isolating active ingredients from three selected samples of medicinal herbs including the bark of buddha belly, knotweed and moringa carried out in this topic will contribute to the addition of chemical data and have potential for the development of medicinal plants and potential to develop into medicinal products. Antioxidant and xanthine oxidase inhibitory activities of medicinal plants, as well as isolated active ingredients, are a reliable scientific basis to orient the production and development of this plant in the direction of supporting gout treatment effectively. The results from this study can guide the production of drugs or functional foods from Vietnamese plants.

Figure 4: Portrait of Dr. Truong Ngoc Minh

This study provides practical information on the isolation of compounds by efficient and simple methods. However, further studies are needed to establish and optimize conditions and more efficient solvent systems to purify bioactive compounds in the three studied plants. In addition, in vivo tests are needed to confirm the bioactivity of the isolated compounds, and to develop food additives and supplements to reduce the risk of gout.

Translated by Quoc Khanh
Link to Vietnamese version

Related news