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Milk Weed

Milk weed is a small, trailing weed, found in many tropical parts of the world. It often has reddish stems with greenish flowers on the stems. The plant produces a milky sap when the stems are cut.

Traditional Uses

Milk Weed  

Scientific Name:
(Euphorbia hirta - Euphorbiaceae)
Other Names:
Asthma Weed, Spurge, Pill-bearing Spurge, Wart Weed, Malome, Lechecillo, Mapempe
Parts Used:
Leaves, Roots, Latex (milk)

In Jamaica milk weed is used traditionally for colds, back pains, blood pressure and as a tonic. It can be boiled with carry mi seed to treat gonorrhoea, and the latex is used topically, as a dressing for cuts and to remove warts. In the Eastern Caribbean, milk weed is used mainly for fevers and to promote urination as well as for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory tract infections.

 

In Asia milk weed is used traditionally to treat asthma and in Europe and North America it was used to treat amoebic dysentery. In East Africa an infusion of milk weed is used as a diuretic.

 

Modern Research & Uses

Studies of milk weed confirm many of the traditional uses, in particular the treatment of asthma and other bronchial disorders. Milk weed has been found to relax the bronchial tubes, make breathing easier, it is an expectorant and is mildly sedative. Milk weed is still used by herbalists today to treat amoebic dysentery.

A study carried out in Nigeria showed that a water extract of milk weed was as effective in its diuretic spectrum as acetazolamide. In research at the UWI in Jamaica, milk weed was shown to have angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibiting properties, making it effective in treating blood pressure.

Plant Chemicals

Plant chemicals in milk weed include: flavonoids; quercitin; cyanidine; choline; phenolic and shikimic acids; triacontane; gallic and ellagic acid; terpenoids such as taraxerol, friedalin, sterols and xanthorhamine.

Caution!
People on blood pressure medication should not use milk weed without medical supervision. Some people might be allergic to the sap/latex so test a small area of skin before prolonged use on skin.
 

References

  • Asprey, GF & Thornton, P - Medicinal Plants of Jamaica Parts 1-4 - West Indian Journal of Medicine vol. 2-4 (1953-1955)
  • Ayensu, ES – Medicinal Plants of the West Indies – (1981) – Reference Publications Inc.
  • Brown, D - The RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses - (1995) - BCA
  • Chevalier, A - Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine - (1996/2000) - Dorling Kindersley
  • Durand, E et al - Simple hyotensive and hypertensive principles from some West Indian medicinal plants - (1962); 14: 562-566
  • Honeychurch, PN Caribbean wild plants & their uses - (1986) - Macmillan Caribbean
  • Johnson, PB et al - Euphorbia Hirta leaf extracts increase urine output and electrolytes in rats - J Ethnopharmacol (1999) April; 65(1): 63-69
  • Mitchell & Ahmad - A Review of Medicinal Plant Research at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica 1948-2001 - WI Med J (2006);55(4):243
  • Patel, SB et al – Review on Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Aspects of Euphorbia Hirta Linn. – JPRHC – (2009) Vol 1(1) pp 113-133
  • Williams, LAD et al - Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibiting and anti-dipsogenic activities of Euphorbia Hirta extracts - Phytotherapy Res (1997); 11: 401-2
  • Wren, RC - Potters New Encyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs & Preparations -(1998) - CW Daniel Company Ltd.
  • www.tropilab.com
  • www.stuartxchange.org/gatas-gatas