Health care Research in Europe

Written by Alejandro Andión


Cachalangua (Centaurium cachanlahuen BLRob.) It is a herbaceous species belonging to the Gentianaceae family. It is native to an area ranging from Peru to southern South America and Chile.
This species of annual herbaceous grows from 15 to 40 cm in height, has a griffin root with short secondary roots, the leaves are oval, opposite and light green, the flowers are formed by five petals of lilac color and carried at the end of short stems of light green color.
Cachalangua, known by the names of Cachanlahue, Cachen, Kachan-l-awen is used, especially by the populations of South America and Chile for medicinal uses. This plant has found use for fever, hypertension and diabetes mellitus, it is considered blood cleansing in rheumatic, circulatory and hepatic conditions. It also stimulates appetite and promotes digestion. There is scientific evidence on febrifuge and antihypertensive effects.


The plant contains diversors bitter components due to the presence of substances such as iridoid and secoiridoid glycosides, flavonoids and xanthones. In addition, it also contains considerable amounts of polyphenolic compounds, mainly xanthones and phenolic acid as the main components. These compounds have an antioxidant effect.

Among the secoiridoid glycosides have been identified centaprine and, at least two substances with antibacterial and antioxidant properties, swertiamarine and swerósido. Gentiopitroside, another secoiridoid in the plant, has also shown similar properties.

Among the various xanthones found in centaurea minor are numerous methoxylated derivatives, including eustomine and demethylustomine. An isochumarin is also found in the plant.

Among the sterols, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, brassicasterol and delta 7-stigmastenol have been isolated.


Canchalagua comes to be used in traditional medicine mainly to treat infections due to its almost proven antimicrobial properties. This is due to the existence of beta phase studies, which seem to demonstrate its ability to fight bacteria, various strains of fungi, yeasts and molds [4].
According to the researchers, this ability is due to its content in sterols and flavonoids. Substances widely studied for their antiviral, antibacterial, immunostimulant and estrogenic effects.

Research done by the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, in Bolivia, analyzed the antiproliferative effect of ethanolic extracts from 26 plants commonly used in Bolivia. Among all these medicinal herbs, the effect produced by Canchalagua stood out. Those in charge of this study concluded that these plants were the ones that showed the greatest anti-proliferative activity [5].
According to the researchers, this ability is also due to its content in sterols and flavonoids. However, more conclusive studies still need to be done to affirm such a capability.

A thesis made for the Universidad Nacional Mayor De San Marcos, in Peru, analyzed the effect of ethanolic extract of canchalagua in laboratory rats, at an oral dose of 100 to 200 mg / kg. The conclusion of this thesis was to highlight the powerful gastroprotective and diuretic effect of the canchalagua extract used. It was also noted that the use of this extract was able to improve intestinal motility.
However, this medicinal use has not been proven in studies done in humans, but anecdotal evidence and this thesis seem to confirm this ability.

Studies indicate that some bacteria can be the cause of the appearance of acne, especially the bacterium known as Propionibacterium Acnes.
A study by Rainer W. Bussmann, Douglas Sharon, Doris Diaz and YAsmin Barocio, noted that canchalagua and other plants came to show a powerful antibacterial ability to fight acne. In addition, it was highlighted that this plant has few or no side effects, compared to other natural remedies used in the east to treat acne. (6)

Studies carried out in normal and hypertensive rats suggested that xtracto f Centaurium cachanlahuen has antihypertensive effect. Results showed that both aqueous (3 mg/mL) and hydroalcoholic extracts (3 mg/mL) produced rat aorta vasodilatation that was higher (P < 0.001) in the hydroalcoholic extract compared to the aqueous extract. This effect had an important endothelium-dependent component that was mediated by nitric oxide (NO), as supported by the inhibition of the response in the presence of N-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA, 100 μM), a nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor. We suggest that xanthones present in the plant may play a key role in the vasodilator effect of Centaurium cachanlahuen extracts. This study provides experimental evidence supporting the folkloric use of Centaurium cachanlahuen as hypotensive agent. [7]

A study by Deutschländer et al. (2009) found that acetone extracts obtained from canchalagua exhibited anti-diabetic activity in vitro, but also showed cellular toxicity. For this reason, the researchers mentioned their concern about the use of this plant in prolonged treatments. [8]

Other benefits are attributable to this plant, such as:
• Blood purifier in rheumatic conditions
• Circulatory and hepatic disorders.
• Stimulates appetite and promotes digestion.
• Lowers fever.

To validate such extensive benefits to the human health, have been conducted a series of analysis on acute and sub-chronic toxicity of Centaurium in rodents. Namely, they have recorded no deaths or any signs of toxicity after oral administration of single doses of the lyophilised Centaurium extract at any dose level up to the highest dose tested (15 g/kg body weight). However, the mortality rate, as well as the acute toxicity of the intraperitoneally administered Centaurium extract have increased progressively with increasing dose: the mortality rate of 0% up to a dose of 8 g/kg has gradually risen to 80% at 14 g/kg, the highest dose studied.

The acute toxicity dose (LD50) of intraperitoneally administered extract in mice have been reported to be 12.13 g/kg. The same authors have summarized the effect of sub-chronic oral administration of Centaurium extract on the hematological parameters, that only the MCV has been slightly but significantly lower in the treated groups (600 mg/kg and 1200 mg/kg dose) compared to the controls. All other haematological parameters (RBC, WBC, Platelet, HGB, HCT, MCH, and HCHC) have remained within normal limits throughout the treatment period.

Repeated oral administration of Centaurium extract (up to a daily dose of 1200 mg/kg BW for 90 days) has not caused significant changes in plasma creatinine, urea, total proteins, total bilirubin, cholesterol, and the liver
marker enzymes (ALT and AST). Therefore, the authors are reasonably deducing that sub-chronic administration of the Centaurium extract did not cause any damage to the liver and the kidneys. They further confirm this statement by the histopathological examination of selected organs (liver and kidney) recovered from treated and control animals showing normal architecture. These observations are suggesting that there were no detrimental effects and morphological disturbances caused by the daily oral administration of the plant extract for 90 days, even at high doses like 1200 mg/kg BW.

In view of the human dose of Centaurium, in the traditional medicine, which is about 1–2 cups of the liquid preparation containing about 2–4 g of plant material per litter of water and the fact that the drug is never taken by the intraperitoneal route, has been suggested that it is safe to conclude that the traditional use of Centaurium does not pose any risk of toxicity. The lack of its toxicity is also supported by other authors that plants or plant products with LD50 greater than 2–3 g/kg are considered free of any toxicity, and that if there are no deaths and no clinical signs of toxicity observed at doses at or below 5 g/kg, the material is non-toxic.

However, to confirm the non-toxic nature of any plant product, has been recommending that one has to consider several factors that can alter plant’s toxicity profile, including the growth stage and maturity of the plant, the specific part(s) of the plant used (such as leaves, roots, flowers, seeds), the seasonal variation in the relative abundance of phytochemicals, the storage conditions of the product (freshly collected or stored for a long time), etc.

1. Antropocene. UN MONDO ECOSOSTENIBILE. (February 9, 2021). Centaurium cachanlahuen.

2. Medizzine. Portal hispano de medicina, medicamentos y plantas medicinales. (August 24, 2022). Centaurea menor (C. umbellatum/C. Erythrea).

3. Alimentoscon. Canchalagua: Para que sirve, propiedades medicinales y como usarla.

4. BCH. Carlos Angel Landa Rojas, Dra. Q.F Nancy Chávez Velásquez. (September 1, 2017). ESTUDIO COMPARATIVO DE PLANTAS HEPATOPROTECTORAS DE ORIGEN CHINO Y PERUANO.

5. Gloria Rodrigo, Giovanna Almanza, Rui-Dong Duan. (December, 2010). Antiproliferative activity of extracts of some Bolivian medicinal plants.

6. Rainier W. Bussmann, Douglas Sharon, Doris Díaz, Yasmin Barocio. (January, 2008). Peruvian plants canchalagua (Schkuhria pinnata (Lam.) Kuntze), hercampuri (Gentianella alborosea (Gilg.) Fabris), and corpus way (Gentianella bicolor (Wedd.) J. Pringle).

7. Raul Vinet, Magdalena Patricia Cortés, Rocío Alvarez, Leda Guzman. (January, 2012). Centaurium cachanlahuen (Mol.) Robinson, a Chilean native plant with a vasodilatory effect.

8. M S Deutschländer , M van de Venter, S Roux, J Louw, N Lall. (July 30, 2009). Hypoglycaemic activity of four plant extracts traditionally used in South Africa for diabetes.

9. MHT, Medicamentos Herbarios Tradicionales. Cachanlagua / Cachan-Lawen.
10. Branislav Šiler, Danijela Mišić. (September, 2016). Biologically Active Compounds from the Genus Centaurium s.l. (Gentianaceae): Current Knowledge and Future Prospects in Medicine.