Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Bugle Call Against Colitis

Bugle, Fulgio septica
The wild Bugle (Ajuga reptans) is such a bewitching plant it has become a popular addition to many suburban herbaceous borders. Its cascade of violet-blue flowers are arranged in a glorious pyramid that normally stands proud at 20-30 cm, but can reach 50 cm in some places (1). Found in pastures and woodlands throughout Europe, it grows vegetatively using stolons and often forms dense aggregates of flowers (2).
Chemically, A. reptans is a terribly complex plant producing a spectrum of chemicals that act as insect anitfeedants (3) and producing anthocyanins which can be used as natural food dyes (4) to name but a couple. It even produces a compound that has been shown to reduce colitis in rats. While the aetologies of inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis remain unclear, it is thought that they result from an uncontrolled immune response to normal gut flora (5). Administering a phenylpropanoid glucoside called teupolioside (5) produced by A. reptans to rats subjected to colitis reduced significantly the appearance of diarrhoea and the loss of body weight.

  1. Phillips, 1978. Wild Flowers of Britain p. 28
  2. Dong et al., 2002. Flora 197 pp. 37–46
  3. Bremner et al., 1998. Phytochemistry 47 pp. 1227-1232
  4. Terahara et al., 2001. Phytochemistry 58 pp. 493–500
  5. Di Paola et al., 2009. Biochemical Pharmacology 77 pp. 845– 857

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