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Carum copticum L.: A Herbal Medicine with Various Pharmacological Effects - Gastrointestinal effects



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Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 569087.  Published online 2014 Jun 25. doi: 10.1155/2014/569087

PMCID: PMC4096002 PMID: 25089273

Carum copticum L.: A Herbal Medicine with Various Pharmacological Effects
Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, 1 ,* Saeed Alitaneh, 2 and Azam Alavinezhad 1

Carum copticum L. commonly known as “Ajwain” is cultivated in many regions of the world including Iran and India, states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Traditionally, C. copticum has been used in the past for various therapeutic effects including bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal tumors, abdominal pain, respiratory distress, and loss of appetite. It has other health benefits such as antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiparasitic, and hypolipidemic effects. This plant contains different important components such as carbohydrates, glucosides, saponins and phenolic compounds (carvacrol), volatile oils (thymol), terpiene, paracymene and beta-pinene, protein, fat, fiber, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, iron, and nicotinic acid (niacin). In the previous studies, several pharmacological effects were shown for C. copticum. Therefore, in this paper, the pharmacological effects of the plant were reviewed.

5.4. Gastrointestinal Effects

Traditional use of the C. copticum seeds in many gastrointestinal diseases, including intestinal disorders, abdominal pain (colic), or diarrhea, is reported [56]. The alcoholic extract of the plant fruit showed significant reduction effect in ulcer index in an animal model of gastric ulcer [57]. In addition, the extract of crushed fruit from C. copticum was effective in relieving stomach pain but increased stomach acid secretion.

Aqueous extract of C. copticum (125, 250, and 500 mg/kg) treatment for two weeks improved peptic ulcer induced by ibuprofen in rats which was comparable with the effect of omeprazole. It was also suggested that antiulcer effect of this plant is possibly due to its antioxidant effect [58].

C. copticum is able to increase the gastric acid secretion time and the amount of gastric acid. In addition, it was shown that the plant can reduce the transit time of food in the digestive system of mice [59]. Inhibitory effect of C. copticum on the contractions of the digestive tract smooth muscle, especially the intestines, increased activities of digestive enzymes and bile secretion was reported [60], which support its effect on gastrointestinal tract.

In several studies, hepatic effects of C. copticum have been observed. The effect of 125, 250, and 500 mg/kg from C. copticum was assessed on peptic ulcer induced by ibuprofen in rat. In addition, the effect of the extract on liver enzymes including aspartate transferase (AST) and alanine transferase [7] in the serum was examined. Both high and low doses of the extract increase liver enzymes. Thus low dose of this plant is recommended for treatment of peptic ulcer and liver disorders [58].

In a study, the hepatoprotective effects of polyherbal formulations (containing several plants such as C. copticum) administered twice daily for one week after paracetamol (500 mg/kg) administration were evaluated on day 8. Paracetamol increases liver enzymes but treatment with polyherbal formulations improved the liver enzyme which was suggested to be due to cell membrane stabilization and recovery of hepatic tissue [61].

The effect of C. copticum on liver injury induced by CCL4 and lethal dose of paracetamol (1 g/kg) in mice was also examined. Oral administration of C. copticum reduced liver enzymes (ALT, ALP, and AST) and improved paracetamol- and CCl4-induced hepatic injuries [25]. On the other hand, carvacrol caused apoptosis and antiproliferation on HepG2 cells of human hepatocellular carcinoma. Carvacrol selectively decreases phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and activated phosphorylation of p38 but did not affect JNK MAPK phosphorylation. A significant reduction effect on Bcl-2 gene expression was also shown 24 h after carvacrol treatment. In addition, carvacrol inhibited DNA synthesis and decreased the number of cancer cells and total protein content [62].

The effect of C. copticum on isolated guinea pig ileum showed antispasmodic activity of extract of the plant and suggested that this effect may be due to cholinergic receptors inhibition by C. copticum [63]. Table 4 summarizes The effects of C. copticum on gastrointestinal tract.

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