Dodonaea viscosa and its health benefits

Know in one minute about Dodonaea viscosa 

  • Dodonaea viscosa is an ornamental evergreen shrub.
  • The leaves and other parts contain several bioactive compounds.
  • It fights against germs and keeps skin and oral healthy.
  • Full of antioxidants thus slow the progression of cancer and brain disease.
  • Repel mosquitoes, relax muscles, and treat malaria, diarrhea, and ulcer.
  • It manages diabetes, reduces swelling, and treats multiple organs injuries.
  • Treat gout and rheumatism by reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints.
  • This plant grows well-drained light sandy, limestone, or stony soil with full sunlight.
  • Easy to propagate using stem cuttings or by seeds in spring.

Introduction

Dodonaea viscosa is an ornamental evergreen shrub growing up to 3 m tall and belonging to the family Sapindaceae. It consists of about 150 genera and 200 species. This plant is used in folk medicine for colds, fever, flu, sore throats, and oral thrush worldwide.

Geographical distribution

This plant is native to Australia, widely distributed in Africa, Mexico, New Zealand, India, and South America (1).

Common name

Giant bush hop, Ghawraskay (Pushto), Hopbush, sand olive Hopbush, Native Hops, Sand Olive, Switch sorrel, Sticky hop bush. 

Main components

The leaves and other parts of Dodonaea viscosa revealed the presence of several constituents. The main chemical component is tannins, alkaloids, carbohydrates, terpenoids, steroids, flavonoids, coumarins, and saponins.  

Health benefits

1. Antimicrobial properties

Dodonaea viscosa contains pentahydroxyflavone and hautriwaic acid that fights against different bacteria. This plant shows antimicrobial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Micrococcus luteus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (2). It also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and viruses like Coxsackievirus B3 and influenza A virus (3).

2. Antioxidant and anti-cholinesterase activities

Antioxidants such as clerodane diterpenoids and phenolics from the plant inhibit the activity of an enzyme that causes brain damage. Thus, this plant may slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and minimize neuronal degeneration (4).

3. Treat cancer

Dodonaea viscosa is rich in dodonaeasides A and B, triterpenoid, and saponins. These compounds may slow the progression of cancers like breast cancer, ovary cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer (5). This plant also induces apoptosis and may be useful as a candidate in chemo to fight against other tumors (6).

4. Treat skin disease

 Dodonaea viscosa contain bioactive compounds that fight against fungi like Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Paecilomyces varioti, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton rubrum. These fungi may cause skin diseases (7). It also contains Dodoviscin A compound that helps to treat darker patches in human skin by inhibiting melanin synthesis (8).

5. Good for oral

Dodonaea viscosa as a mouth rinse, gel, or toothpaste fights against the germs of the mouth like Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. This plant inhibits the production of acid and proteinase by germs. Thereby treat dental caries and periodontal diseases (9). Furthermore, Dodonaea viscosa contains phytosterol and tannins that damage the cell wall of yeast called Candida albicans (10).  Thus, treats oral candidiasis (thrush and denture stomatitis) within 30 seconds. (11, 12).

6. Repel mosquitoes and treat malaria

Dodonaea viscosa contains diterpenoids and flavonoids that kill the larvae of Aedes albopictus and Culex pipens quinquefasciatus (13). Its leaves contain pinocembrin that suppresses the growth of Plasmodium parasites thus treating malaria (14).

7. Manage diabetes

Intake of Dodonaea viscosa reduces blood glucose, serum insulin, and lipid abnormalities.  Also, improve glucose tolerance and good cholesterol levels (15). Thus this plant decreases oxidative stress by improving endogenous antioxidants and treating diabetes (16).

8. Treat diarrhea and relax muscles 

Dodonaea viscosa contain bioactive compounds which act as an antispasmodic and anti motility agent (17). This plant can lower the incidence of tummy, muscle spasms and delay the frequency of diarrhea (18).

9. Gastroprotective properties

Ingestion of Dodonaea viscosa decreases the amount of acid in gastric juice and prevents the chance of an ulcer. It contains flavonoids, saponins, and phenols which inhibit gastric injury (19).

10. Treat inflammation

Dodonaea viscosa leaves are a rich source of terpenes and hautriwaic acid that minimize the progression of swelling (20).  Thus, this plant reduces several chronic degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension (21).

11. Treat organ injury

Hautriwaic acid found in the Dodonaea viscosa prevents liver damage caused by chemicals and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (22). It contains antioxidants like flavonoids, phenols, and Fatty acids, mainly oleic acid that treats liver and multiple organs injuries (23).

12. Treat gout and rheumatism

Dodonaea viscosa leaves may reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints.  Thus this plant leaves in the treatment of gout and rheumatism (24).

How to grow and take care

1. Planting time

The best time to plant is in spring.

2. Light

Dodonaea viscosa tolerates partial shade but requires full sun to encourage more growth. It also tolerates high temperatures and also frost.

3. Soil

These plants do best in well-drained light sandy, limestone, or stony soil. The pH of the soil is neutral and basic (alkaline)

4. Water

The plant prefers a moderate amount of water, but it can tolerate some drought and flooding. Water thoroughly, then allows the soil to dry slightly between watering. For young plants, water 2 – 3 times per week. After establishment, add once a month or when the top few inches of soil are dry. Little watering may remain a shrub of 6 to 8 feet in size. On the other hand irrigation with more water, it will grow to 15 feet or more.

5. Pruning

Pruning is necessary to maintain its size and encourage thicker growth. The best time for this is in spring or fall. Once it is established it requires very little care. The old plant does not require pruning but to achieve tree shape, prune to a single trunk. 

6. Fertilizer

Apply monthly a balanced 1/2th water-soluble and slow-release fertilizer during the active growing season. Do not fertilize the plant during dormant or winter seasons.

Propagation

The Dodonaea viscosa plants can be easily propagated using stem cuttings or by seeds in spring. For rapid and improved germination rate, submerged the seeds in hot water. After 24 hours of planting the seed in moist soil, germination started in 3-5 weeks. 

Make sure to cut the stems that are four to six inches long. Remove leaves from the lower third of each stem and dip the cut end into the rooting hormone. Then plant it in a pot with moist potting soil until roots form (four to six weeks). 

Toxicity to pets

A research study suggested that dermal application of Dodonaea viscosa appeared to be well tolerated by animals. This plant is not toxic to the nervous system, respiratory system, or other physiological functions of animals (25).

However, ingestion of Dodonaea viscosa by pregnant rats may delay the embryo development, even cause abortion. This infertility is due to the presence of phytol. Thus, the use and doses of Dodonaea viscosa should be carefully monitored (26).

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