Bioactive Agents, Nutraceuticals Potentials, Phytochemistry, and Food Value of Emilia coccinea Leaf: A Review

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Viola A. Nwachukwu
Stanley C. Udedi
F. C. Ezeonu
Bartholomew I. C. Brai
Chika Scholastica Ezeanyanaso
Gloria Nwakaego Elemo


Emilia coccinea (Sims) G. Don belongs to the family Asteraceae. The members of this family are largely woody herbs or shrubs, a few trees and climbing herbs. Emilia coccinea leaf extracts can play major roles by improving nutritional livelihood especially in the rural areas.  E. coccinea extracts have also been implicated as possible control against chronic diseases such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular conditions all over the world. E. coccinea as a lesser known indigenous plant in Nigeria can be refined to serve as either as health supplements or medicinal herbal formula targeted at treatment of diseases. It is reportedly used in folkloric medicine for the treatment of tumor, inflammation, cough, rheumatism, fever, dysentery, wounds and in preventing miscarriage. The juice of the edible leaves is reportedly used in treating eye inflammations, night blindness, and ear-aches. In terms of Doctrines of signature, its resemblance to the spleen could imply that it may have immune-modulatory potentials for people with defective immune system.  It also resembles the pancreas which is responsible for production of insulin which breaks down glucose. Thus the E. coccinea leaf extracts could have potentials to regulate blood sugar. Previous studies have revealed the presence of some secondary metabolites in the plant (E. coccinea) which are alkaloids, tannin, saponin, steroid, terpenoid, flavonoid, cardiac glycoside and lignin and are known as therapeutic agents. Quantitative estimation of the percentage of crude chemical constituents in the Nigerian E. coccinea was 0.92±0.22% of alkaloids, 0.81±0.10% of phenols, 0.96±0.10% of flavonoid, 2.30±0.20% of saponin and 11.85±0.31% of tannin by previous workers. These components are known to be medicinal as well as exhibiting physiological activities in humans. Isolation of pyrrolizidine alkaloid as natural product in Emilia coccinea, has been reported for the first time. The global resurgence of interest in the use of medicinal plants for the treatment of human diseases fuelled with rising cost of orthodox drugs, and this is a comparative advantage of natural products to synthetic products, which incentivizes researches on lesser known plants such as E. coccinea. Advance research work on E. coccinea leaf will open an avenue for industrialization in Nigeria through development of different natural/herbal products, functional foods and beverages from the plant that will be easily available and accessible throughout the year. In addition, it will provide a cleaner environment through re-cultivation of such plant and maintenance of greener environment.


Food value, nutraceuticals potentials, medicinal plants, Emilia coccinea, phytochemicals

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How to Cite
A. Nwachukwu, V., C. Udedi, S., C. Ezeonu, F., I. C. Brai, B., Scholastica Ezeanyanaso, C., & Nwakaego Elemo, G. (2017). Bioactive Agents, Nutraceuticals Potentials, Phytochemistry, and Food Value of Emilia coccinea Leaf: A Review. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, 4(1), 1-15.
Review Article