The carmine plant, also known as the helm (Phytolacca americana), is a herbaceous plant that is found in various parts of North America, South America, Europe and Asia. It is also known as “American blackberry grass” or “cancer root” and is used for medicinal and culinary purposes. What are the uses of the helm and its contraindications?
Specialists have established that some parts of the bush have toxic components, which are removed only through a rigorous cooking process. Therefore, we must use it with caution and consider its possible side effects.
To learn more about helm, read on!
The properties of the helm
According to historical data, the carmine plant was the basis of remedies used by Native Americans to treat vomiting, purify the body and combat the symptoms of rheumatism. Even today, some cultures continue to offer these applications.
It seems that the popularity grew with the appearance of a book called King’s American Dispensary, written in the late nineteenth century, which talks about the potential of the plant to treat skin diseases and joint pain. Even so, the evidence is fairly limited today. What do we really know about helm?
Steering wheel compounds
Uses and benefits of the helm
Despite information on helical toxicity, some crops continue to support its use as an adjunct against diseases such as tonsillitis, laryngitis, acne, scabies, some types of tumors and AIDS. Is there evidence to that effect?
So far, the plant has shown some medicinal benefits in laboratory and animal studies. However, studies of its effects on humans are lacking. In addition, antiviral protein (PAP) is believed to be responsible for many of its properties. Even so, there is no total certainty.
Scientists have evaluated Phytolacca americana extracts as possible supplements to prevent dental disease. A laboratory study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that the plant has antibacterial components that help support oral health.
Specifically, it inhibits important enzymes of bacteria such as Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus mutans, responsible for inflammatory periodontal disease and tooth decay. However, scientists need more evidence.
Undoubtedly, one of the main applications of carmine plants is related to skin disorders. In folk medicine, people use the helm as an ally against psoriasis, eczema and sore throat. Its anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for reducing swelling and pain.
However, paradoxically, direct contact with the root, stem or leaves of the plant can cause vesicular rashes similar to those caused by poison ivy. Therefore, you should use the helm carefully. Studies on this subject are brief and outdated.
Neither helm nor other herbal supplements can cure chronic conditions such as cancer or HIV / AIDS. Despite popular claims about its benefits and the findings of some clinical trials, you should not use helmsman as a treatment for these diseases.
Evidence suggests that plant extracts are promising for the creation of future drugs to support the treatment of these diseases. For example, a study published in Phytotherapy Research stated that Phytolacca americana extracts can act against colon cancer cells by altering gene expression.
Meanwhile, the journal Toxins reported that PAP – present in the carmine plant – has the potential to become immunotoxic. In other words, it could stimulate the activity of immune cells to respond to the presence of tumors or cells.
5. Other uses not supported by scientific evidence
Risks and contraindications
Many herbal stores distribute supplements and foods containing helm. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use or evaluated the safety of the helm.
The agency also warns of possible interactions with drugs such as anticoagulants, antihypertensives and diuretics. Not recommended for pregnant women, children or people with special health conditions.
There is no general advice on the safe use of the rudder and its derivatives. As a general rule, you should avoid any contact and ingestion of fresh plant. For this reason, supplements are distributed in the form of tinctures, extracts, capsules, oils and ointments.
When purchasing them, it is important to consider that they are not regulated by the FDA. Manufacturers usually suggest a dose on the product packaging. This dose should never be exceeded.
What should you keep in mind about the uses of the helm?
Phytolacca americana has been used in traditional medicine as an adjunct to improve the symptoms of certain diseases. However, nowadays, there are warnings about the risks involved in its use due to its content of toxic compounds.
In conclusion, there is no concrete evidence to prove the effectiveness of helmsman as a medicinal remedy. Therefore, it should not replace any medical treatment. Pregnant women, children and people with any serious illness should avoid the use of the helm.