ALKANNA

OTHER NAME(S):

Alkanet, Alkanna lehmanii, Alkanna Radix, Alkanna tinctoria, Alkanna tuberculata, Anchusa, Anchusa bracteolata, Anchusa tuberculata, Buglosse des Teinturiers, Dyer's Bugloss, Henna, Lithospermum lehmanii, Orcanète, Orcanette, Orcanette des Teinturiers, Orchanet, Radix Anchusae.

Overview

Overview Information

Alkanna is a plant. The root and leaves are used to make medicine.

People use alkanna for wound healing, burns, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Also, there's concern that using some alkanna products might harm the liver.

How does it work?

Some chemicals in alkanna might act as antioxidants and might also reduce swelling (inflammation).

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Burns. Early research shows that using an ointment containing alkanna, beeswax, and olive oil may help burns heal faster than using a regular dressing.
  • Wound healing. Early research shows that using an ointment containing 20% alkanna extract helps wounds heal after removal of skin for a skingraft. But it's unclear if the alkanna ointment reduces wound pain or scar formation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Skin diseases, when applied to the skin.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of alkanna for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: There's a lot of concern about using alkanna as medicine, because it naturally contains harmful chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can harm the liver. These chemicals can block blood flow in the veins in the liver and cause liver damage. They might also cause cancer and birth defects. Using alkanna preparations that contain these chemicals is LIKELY UNSAFE. Some retailers of alkanna products attempt to remove these chemicals. If they meet certain purity standards, these products can be labeled "hepatotoxic PA-free." But there isn't enough information to know if it's safe to take "hepatotoxic PA-free" alkanna by mouth. It's best to avoid use.

When applied to the skin: There's a lot of concern about using alkanna as medicine, because it naturally contains harmful chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These chemicals can harm the liver. Applying alkanna preparations that contain these chemicals to broken skin is LIKELY UNSAFE. The dangerous chemicals in alkanna can be absorbed quickly through broken skin and can lead to dangerous body-wide toxicity. There isn't enough information to know if it's safe to apply alkanna to unbroken skin. It's best to avoid use. Some retailers of alkanna products attempt to remove these chemicals. If they meet certain purity standards, these products can be labeled hepatotoxic PA-free." But there's not enough information to know if it's safe to apply these "hepatotoxic PA-free" alkanna to broken or unbroken skin. It's best to avoid use.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: It's LIKELY UNSAFE to use alkanna if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Alkanna naturally contains harmful chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Using preparations that contain these chemicals might cause birth defects as well as liver damage if used during pregnancy. These chemicals can also pass into breast milk and harm the nursing infant if used when breast-feeding. Some retailers of alkanna products attempt to remove these chemicals. If they meet certain purity standards, these products can be labeled "hepatotoxic PA-free." But there isn't enough information to know whether it's safe to use "hepatotoxic PA-free" preparations during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Liver disease: Alkanna contains chemicals called hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These chemicals harm the liver, making existing liver disease worse.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Medications that increase the breakdown of other medications by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inducers) interacts with ALKANNA

    Alkanna is broken down by the liver. Some chemicals that form when the liver breaks down alkanna can be harmful. Medications that cause the liver to break down alkanna might enhance the toxic effects of chemicals contained in alkanna.
    Some of these medicines include carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin, rifabutin (Mycobutin), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The appropriate dose of alkanna depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for alkanna. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • Chojkier M. Hepatic sinusoidal-obstruction syndrome: toxicity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. J Hepatol 2003;39:437-46. View abstract.
  • Food and Drug Administration. FDA Advises Dietary Supplement Manufacturers to Remove Comfrey Products From the Market. July 6, 2001. Available at: https://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/dspltr06.html.
  • Gümüs K, Özlü ZK. The effect of a beeswax, olive oil and Alkanna tinctorial (L.) Tausch mixture on burn injuries: An experimental study with a control group. Complement Ther Med. 2017;34:66-73. View abstract.
  • Khan UA, Rahman H, Qasim M, et al. Alkanna tinctoria leaves extracts: a prospective remedy against multidrug resistant human pathogenic bacteria. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015;15:127. View abstract.
  • Kheiri A, Amini S, Javidan AN, Saghafi MM, Khorasani G. The effects of Alkanna tinctoria Tausch on split-thickness skin graft donor site management: a randomized, blinded placebo-controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):253.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;335:262-6. View abstract.
  • Roeder E. Medicinal plants in Europe containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Pharmazie 1995;50:83-98.
  • Wang YP, Yan J, Fu PP, Chou MW. Human liver microsomal reduction of pyrrolizidine alkaloid N-oxides to form the corresponding carcinogenic parent alkaloid. Toxicol Lett 2005;155:411-20. View abstract.
  • WHO working group. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Environmental Health Criteria, 80. WHO: Geneva, 1988.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.