Rafflesia can cause liver, spleen failure

Sourced from The Star

UKM study finds Rafflesia can cause liver, spleen failure

KUALA LUMPUR: Clinical tests on mice have shown that traditional medicine using the Rafflesia flower can have adverse effects on the liver and spleen, claims a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) senior lecturer.

Dr Nazlina Ibrahim, of the university’s School of Biosciences and Biotechnology, said Masters student Khairunnadwa Jemon’s research found that the internal organs of white mice, which had delivered offspring and were given compounds of buds of the Rafflesia for 14 days, had become smaller.

She said traditional medicine using the flower were usually consumed by women who had just delivered to shrink their uterus and by men, supposedly for sexual strength.

Dr Nazlina said in an article in the university’s news portal that the research by Khairunnadwa, under her supervision, found that the liver managed to detoxify ingredients from the buds of the Rafflesia azlanii.

“But this process also shrank the liver from its original size. The experiment thus confirmed that ability of the flower buds. But the risks to other vital organs being affected also exists, that is, the liver,” said Dr Nazlina in the article.

She said woman who have been drinking water boiled with the buds of the Rafflesia for after-birth treatment needed to seriously consider the adverse and dangerous effects.

Dr Nazlina said the level of toxicity seen in the study should be a warning to people taking jamu since the use of parts of the Rafflesia azlanii as a source of traditional medicine was not safe.

“If one wants to reduce weight, one should have a balanced diet and exercise. These are more effective and safe,” she said.

Dr Nazlina said the public should also avoid destroying the beautiful Rafflesia flower, which has become an icon in Malaysia’s tourism industry, for slimming purposes and, in the process, endanger themselves.

The Rafflesia, famed as the biggest flower in the world, is a rare plant from the Rafflesiaceae family group but is seldom seen in tropical rain forests, she said, adding that it is actually an obligatory parasite and a creeper of the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae).

It lives for between two and three years but the flower blooms for a few days only before shrinking and decaying, and its uniqueness and beauty attracts many nature lovers, researchers and tourists from within the country and abroad.

She said research on the use of funds from the Rafflesia Rehabilitation Scheme in Taman Kinabalu found that the returns per year from the Rafflesia eco-tourism industry was much higher than if the same land area was used for agricultural purposes.

The Rafflesia has for generations been used as an ingredient of traditional medicine, and the buds of the flower can be bought for between RM9 and RM25, depending on the size. — Bernama

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