Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Alcanna d'Oriente, Alcanna vera, alkanet, alkanet root, Alkanna lehmannii, Alkanna orientalis, Alkanna sempervireus, Alkanna tinctoria, Alkanna tinctoria Tausch, Alkanna tuberculata, Alkannawurzel (German), anchusa, Anchusae radix, Anchusa tinctoria, Anchusa tuberculata, ancusa (Spanish), Boraginaceae (family), bugloss, dyer's bugloss, havaciva, Lithospermum tinctorium, onoquiles, orcanette (French), orchanet, Schminkwurz (German), Spanish bugloss.
Alkanna is grown in the south of France and on the shores of the Levant (the mountainous region paralleling the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, including parts of the countries of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel). Its root yields a fine red coloring, which has been used as a cloth dye and a tint for tinctures, oils, wines, and varnishes. It is commonly used today as a food coloring.
Alkanna has been used traditionally for its wound healing and anti-inflammatory effects. Evidence supporting folkloric uses of alkanna is mixed.
There is currently no available scientific evidence of alkanna to recommend its use, safety or effectiveness for any medical condition.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Anti-aging, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antipruritic (prevents/relieves itching), antiviral (Alkanna orientalis), astringent, back pain, bed sores, bruises, cancer, jaundice, kidney disorders, measles, poisonous snake bites, rash, smallpox, varicose veins, vulnerary (skin regenerative), wound healing.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is not enough scientific evidence to safely recommend alkanna for use in adults.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is not enough scientific evidence to safely recommend alkanna for use in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to alkanna, its constituents or potentially any member of the family Boraginaceae should not take alkanna.
Side Effects and Warnings
In general, the lack of available scientific evidence makes it difficult to comment on the potential adverse effects of alkanna. Nevertheless, certain constituents (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) found in alkanna may be potentially damaging to the liver and lungs, and may also be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids may also cause pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs) or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure).
Caution is advised in patients with hepatic or pulmonary insufficiency. Patients with cancer should also use cautiously because the quantity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in some herbal teas and dietary supplements may worsen the condition.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Alkanna is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Constituents of alkanna include pyrrolizidine alkaloids and N-oxides. These are potentially toxic to the liver and lungs, and may be cancer-causing. Patients taking any medications should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before using alkanna.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Constituents of alkanna include pyrrolizidine alkaloids and N-oxides (found in alkanna). These are potentially toxic to the liver and lungs, and may be cancer-causing. Patients taking any herbs or supplements should consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, before using alkanna.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Altamirano JC, Gratz SR, Wolnik KA. Investigation of pyrrolizidine alkaloids and their N-oxides in commercial comfrey-containing products and botanical materials by liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. J AOAC Int. 2005;88(2):406-412. View Abstract
Assimopoulou AN, Papageorgiou VP. Radical scavenging activity of Alkanna tinctoria root extracts and their main constituents, hydroxynaphthoquinones. Phytother.Res 2005;19(2):141-147. View Abstract
Chen CH, Chern CL, Lin CC, et al. Involvement of reactive oxygen species, but not mitochondrial permeability transition in the apoptotic induction of human SK-Hep-1 hepatoma cells by shikonin. Planta Med 2003;69(12):1119-1124. View Abstract
Kourounakis AP, Assimopoulou AN, Papageorgiou VP, et al. Alkannin and shikonin: effect on free radical processes and on inflammation - a preliminary pharmacochemical investigation. Arch.Pharm (Weinheim) 2002;335(6):262-266. View Abstract
Ogurtan Z, Hatipoglu F, Ceylan C. The effect of Alkanna tinctoria Tausch on burn wound healing in rabbits. Dtsch.Tierarztl.Wochenschr. 2002;109(11):481-485. View Abstract
Papageorgiou VP. Wound healing properties of naphthaquinone pigments from Alkanna tinctoria. Experientia 11-15-1978;34(11):1499-1501. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017