The genus Crinum belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family and comprises approximately 160 species distributed throughout the tropics and warm temperate regions of the world in Asia, Australia, Africa and America. The Crinum species have commercial, economical and medicinal importance. Besides its popularity as an ornamental garden plant with beautiful blossoms, the plant attracts considerable attention due to various medicinal properties as antitumor, immune-stimulating, analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals and for medical purposes. The plant has been used in the folk medicine of many countries.
Crinum latifolium is one of Vietnam’s precious medicinal herbs. In the past, Crinum latifolium was reserved only for the Royalty, therefore, it was commonly referred to as the “Medicine for the King’s Palace” and the “Royal Female Herb” in Vietnam. These traditional nicknames highlight one of C. latifolium’s most unique aspects – its good value to strengthen the women’s health as well as to prevent and cure various diseases in women disorder.
2. Definition & uses
Extracts of Crinum species are reported to exert antitumor, immunostimulating, analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects, which have been mainly attributed to the more than 150 alkaloids of the Amaryllidaceae type present in Crinum species. The Indian species Crinum latifolium (L.) was traditionally used to treat rheumatism, fistula, tumors, earaches, rubefacient, tubercle and whitlow.
In Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicine, hot aqueous extracts of Crinum latifolium are used until today because of its antiviral and antitumor activity, especially to treat prostate cancer. Scientific evidence for an antitumor effect of Crinum latifolium constituents emerged from an aqueous extract of Crinum latifolium leaves, which was found to retard growth of chemically induced 20-methylcholanthrene tumors in rats. The same extract was also shown to activate and stimulate T-cell proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and also in vivo following treatment of Balb/c mice. Recent in vitro studies in our laboratory showed that hot and cold aqueous extracts of Crinum latifolium were highly active to suppress mitogen- and interferon-γ-induced formation of the pteridine derivative neopterin in PBMC.
In reality, Crinum latifolium has not only been used with good results to prevent and treat many diseases in women such as ovarian cysts, fibroid uterus but also found effective for treating various diseases in men such as prostate cancer. Aqueous extracts from C. latifolium leaves in Vietnam showed in vitro and in vivo T-lymphocyte activation and retarded growth of chemically induced tumors (sarcomas) in rats. The alkaloids isolated from C. latifolium are known to possess antitumor and immune stimulating activities.
Do Tat Loi, Medicinal plants and recipes in Vietnam,2004, 510-512.