Funtumia elastica (Silkrubber1) is a medicinal plant. It is a medium-sized African rubber tree with glossy leaves, milky sap, and long woody seedpods. The bark is the medicinal portion. Scientists studied Funtumia extensively in the 1960s, but only recently have its medicinal properties recaptured the interest of science. Funtumia has important antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. It is traditionally used in its native environment, tropical Africa to treat asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues, as well as malaria. It has no known toxicity.
Natural compounds found in Funtumia elastica include:
Anthocyanins: plant pigments that give berries their color (such as blueberries, blackberries, and cherries). Anthocyanins have been called “the mother lode in a gold mine of antioxidants.” Unprocessed Funtumia elastica powder is distinctly blue—a clear indication of its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that have beneficial effects on the heart, brain (enhancing learning and memory), and eyes. They have good anti-inflammatory effects and appear to protect against DNA damage, cancer, and many degenerative diseases. Anthocyanins have shown specific benefit in reducing immune-stimulated inflammation, and are thought to be valuable in preventing the development of asthma.2, 3, 4
Flavonoids: Vitamin C is the most familiar member of this class of plant-derived antioxidant compounds. Flavonoids are natural antihistamines and possess strong anti-allergic properties. Flavonoids are useful in both preventing and addressing COPD, asthma, and other chronic lung diseases.5, 6, 7
Steroid alkaloids, plant sterols (phytosterols), and brassinosteroids: natural plant steroids are safer than synthetic steroid drugs like prednisone and dexamethasone (reference needed). One compound (conessine) found in Funtumia also has strong anti-bacterial properties.8 Phytosterols have immuno-modulating effects—normalizing an over-reactive antibody response—as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Interestingly, in a study of marathon runners using a blend of phytosterols, volunteer runners taking the blend had a smaller inflammatory response and less immune suppression during recovery. Their effects on immune system balance are thought to be beneficial in treatment of allergies and other autoimmune conditions. 9, 10, 11, 12
Natural anti-fungals: Funtumia specifically inhibits growth of many molds, including Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Candida, as well as the fungi that cause ringworm.13
Tannins: These compounds, found also in coffee, tea, and red wine, have shown promise in the treatment of allergic inflammation and asthma. Tannins affect the body’s production of prostaglandins (a group of hormone-like substances) by inhibiting pro-inflammatory molecules known to be associated with COPD in horses and promoting anti-inflammatory production.14, 15 Tannins may also help break down foreign proteins, which could reduce the allergic response.16
Funtumia elastica has demonstrated good safety (low toxicity) in multiple laboratory experiments, and has tested negative for heavy metals including cadmium, zinc, lead, chromium, and nickel. It has been safely used for respiratory disease, including allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans, cats, and horses (Funtumia contains no substances prohibited by any equine sport or racing authority).
- Funtumia elastica at USDA PLANTS Database
- Barros D, Amaral OB, Izquierdo I, et al. Behavioral and genoprotective effects of Vaccinium berries intake in mice. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Jun;84(2):229-34.
- Shin WH, Seo JW, et al. Anthocyanins inhibit airway inflammation and hyperresponsiveness in a murine asthma model. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Aug;45(8):1459-67.
- Zafra-Stone S, Yasmin T, Bagchi M, et al. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Jun;51(6):675-83.
- Kawai M, Hirano T, Higa S, et al. Flavonoids and related compounds as anti-allergic substances. Allergol Int. 2007 Jun;56(2):113-23.
- Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, JSrvinen R, et al. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):560-8.
- Romieu I, Trenga C. Diet and obstructive lung diseases. Epidemiol Rev. 2001;23(2):268-87.
- Bogne Kamga P, Penlap Beng V, Lontsi D, et al. Antibacterial activities of the extracts and conessine from Holarrhena floribunda. Afr J Trad Complem Alt Med. Vol. 4, No. 3, 2007, pp. 352-356.
- Bouic PJ, Lamprecht JH. Plant sterols and sterolins: a review of their immune-modulating properties. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Jun;4(3):170-7.
- Michelini FM, Ram’rez JA, Berra A, et al. In vitro and in vivo antiherpetic activity of three new synthetic brassinosteroid analogues. Steroids. 2004 Oct-Nov;69(11-12):713-20.
- Wagner H, Seegert K, Sonnenbichler H, et al. Steroid alkaloids of Funtumia africana. Planta Med. 1987 Oct;53(5):444-9.
- Zirihi GN, Grellier P, GuZdZ-Guina F, et al. Isolation, characterization and antiplasmodial activity of steroidal alkaloids from Funtumia elastica (Preuss) Stapf. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2005 May 16;15(10):2637-40.
- Adekunle AA, Ikumapayi AM. Antifungal property and phytochemical screening of the crude extracts of Funtumia elastica and Mallotus oppositifolius. West Indian Med J. 2006 Sep;55(4):219-23.
- Watson ED, Sweeney CR, Steensma KA. Arachidonate metabolites in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from horses with and without COPD. Equine Vet J. 1992 Sep;24(5):379-81.
- Watson ED, Mair TS, Sweeney CR. Immunoreactive prostaglandin production by equine monocytes and alveolar macrophages and concentrations of PGE2 and PGF in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Res Vet Sci. 1990 Jul;49(1):88-91.
- Kimura Y, Okuda H, Okuda T, et al. Studies on the activities of tannins and related compounds, X. Effects of caffeetannins and related compounds on arachidonate metabolism in human polymorphonuclear leukocytes. J Nat Prod. 1987 May-Jun;50(3):392-9.
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