Indian turnsole: Benefits and side effect of heliotropium indicum

Indian turnsole benefits
Indian turnsole (Heliotropium indicum) benefits.

Indian turnsole (Heliotropium indicum), also known as Agogo igun or Ogbe ori akuko among the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria, is one of the great herbal medicines you can think of. Traditionally, this plant being used in so many nations for treating broad spectrum of ill health, such as febrifuge, eye infection, menstrual disorder, nerve disorder and so many others.

The plant, Indian turnsole, is actually a small plant with a height of 50cm tall at maximum. It can either be classified as annual or perennial herb with alternating leaves, and produces flowers through out the year. The stem and roots are covered with hairs; and while the base is woody, it grows long tap root into the soil.

Indian turnsole is actually a small herbal plant that is native to Asia, and widely used in India and Southwestern Nigeria for various diseases. It is a small but mighty plant!

What are the health benefits of Indian turnsole?

Indian turnsole is fortified with a group of alkaloids known as pyrrolizidine, which possess strong pharmacological properties. It is also rich in triterpenes and sterols, and volatile oil. The leaf, stem and root of Indian helioltrope are of medicinal values.

Benefits of Indian turnsole in eye infection

One great benefit of Indian turnsole is in the treatment of eye complications such as cataract and glaucoma. It has been shown to be effective against these diseases by traditional health workers, and has been scientifically proven by research studies.

In studies conducted by Veda and colleagues on the ethanolic extract of heliotropium indicum leaves and another conducted by Kyei and colleagues on the aqueous extract of the plant, Indian turnsole proved to be beneficial for the treatment of cataract. According to the study conducted by Veda, there were significant increase in the lens glutathione, soluble protein, and water content in Indian turnsole treated rats. Kyei also showed that the plant extract significantly inhibited the development of selenite-induced cataracts in Sprague–Dawley rats. Making Indian turnsole of great benefits.

Aside its strong anticataract properties, Indian turnsole (Agogo igun) also possess antiglaucoma properties. In the same study conducted by Kyei and colleagues, an extract of the whole plant was able to significantly reduced the intraocular pressure in acute and chronic glaucoma, preserved glutathione levels, and glutamate concentration in rabbits. This goes a long way in buttressing the health benefits of Indian turnsole.

With the increasing rate of cataract and glaucoma infection, especially among younger generation, heliotropium indicum is becoming a popular herb for eye diseases, among the Asians, Indians and Yoruba people of Nigeria. You may also consider taking spearmint tea, as it is another herb that improves your eyes health.

Indian turnsole is a wound healing herb

Another health benefit of Indian turnsole is in wound healing. This small but mighty herb possess excellent healing ability, which cut across several extracting medium such as water, ethanol, butanol, methanol, etc. This wound healing property is probably due to two wound-healing active bioactive compounds, pestalamide B and glycinamide, both of which are alkaloids. To ise Indian turnsole for wound treatment, apply a paste made with the dry leaves topically on the wound surface. Bryophyllum pinnata also possess wound healing property and can be added to Indian turnsole paste.

Indian turnsole is beneficial for ulcer and other gastrointestinal diseases

As stated earlier, there are several benefits of Indian turnsole, one of such benefits is in ulcer and other gastrointestinal diseases. The dry leaves has been used as a traditional remedy to treat gastric ulcer. This dried leaf extract, according to studies, protects the gastrointestinal wall mucosa from indomethacin-induced gastric ulcer in experimental rats. This property is probably due to the presence of alkaloids, tannins, and saponins, which may induce the release of prostaglandins in gastric mucosa, thereby maintaining gastric microcirculation through mucus and bicarbonate production.

The leaves of Indian turnsole may be dried, ground into powder and use in tea making, add to pap or liquid milk and taken to prevent ulceration. But for want of more efficient way, adding the powder to milk or pap may be a better option than leaf tea.

Another plant with strong antiulcer property is cabbage juice. Cabbage juice is so strong against ulcer that many people who took the advice we give here concerning herbal remedies gave testimonies about the quick healing they experienced.

Indian turnsole protects you from cancer

The high incidence of cancer among both male and female groups is alarming, and the high cost of chemotherapy and some popular belief that herbal remedy is more efficient than chemo products has led so many to shift their attention to herbal plants with strong anticancer properties. Luckily, Indian turnsole is one of such herbs with anticancer benefits.

The whole plant is beneficial for cancer treatment. This has been verified by studies on the root, stem, and leaves of heliotropium indicum. Accordingly, one of the active components of Indian turnsole, pyrrolizidine, an alkaloid and the principal active compound has reached phase 1 clinical trial in advanced cancer patients with the risk of hepatotoxicity, according to Ohnuma and colleagues. Another plant with strong anticancer property is pigeon pea. The roots and leaves of pigeon pea possess strong anticancer active compounds.

Benefit of Indian turnsole in  diuresis

The methanol extract of the plant increases the rate of removal of electrolytes through frequent and increased urination. This way the plant eases strains on your kidney due to high electrolyte concentration, and also reduces the amount of blood your heart would pump.

Benefits of Indian turnsole in malaria

Indian turnsole possess antimalaria and larvicidal activity against the vector dengue virus. However, the antimalaria activity of the plant is minimal, as it does not show activity against chloroquine resistant plasmodium strain. Its activity is in reducing hyperthermia and colic, which are two symptoms of malaria, according to Bero and his colleagues.

Indian turnsole lowers blood sugar

Another benefit  of Indian turnsole is its ability to bring down elevated fasting blood glucose level in diabetic and obese patients to normal. This makes Indian turnsole a good remedy for diabetic patients. The water decoction of the whole plant can be given to a diabetic person, as it has the promise of bringing down diabetic induced hyperglycemia.

Side effect

The plant, heliutropium indicum possesses antifertility against implantation. It also induces abortion in pregnant rats and may prevent fertilization of egg by sperm. This means that pregnant women, and couple who are expecting a child should avoid taking the plant in any form whatsoever.


As much as herbs are great gifts of nature to us, caution should be taken when administering them. Do not drink any decoction or mixture made with Indian turnsole if you are pregnant or expecting to carry one.

Read also: (12 benefits of pumpkin fruits and seeds)

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  1. Veda, K. S. Sasi, B. R. Asokan, S. Sengottuvelu, and S. Jaikumar, “Anticataract activity of ethanolic extract of Heliotropium indicum leaves on galactose induced cataract in rats,” International Journal of Pharmacology & Toxicology, vol. 5, pp. 18–20, 2016.

Kyei, G. A. Koffuor, P. Ramkissoon, C. Afari, and E. A. Asiamah, “.e claim of anti-cataract potential of Heliotropium indicum: a myth or reality?” Ophthalmology and Ferapy, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 115–128, 2015.

  1. Ohnuma, K. S. Sridhar, L. H. Ratner, and J. F. Holland, “Phase I study of indicine N-oxide in patients with advanced cancer,” Cancer Treatment Reviews, vol. 66, no. 7, pp.1509–1515, 1982.
  2. Bero, H. Ganfon, M. C. Jonville et al., “In vitro antiplasmodial activity of plants used in Benin in traditional medicine to treat malaria,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 122, no. 3, pp. 439–444, 2009.







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