Acanthus ilicifolius, commonly known as holly-leaved acanthus, sea holly, and holy mangrove is a species of shrubs or herbs, of the plant family Acanthaceae, native to Australia, and Southeast Asia. Also it is part of the catalog of ayurvedic medicinal plants of Sri Lanka. It is used as medicine in asthma and rheumatism.
Acanthus ilicifolius is an erect or reclining shrub growing from 50 - 200cm tall with scarcely branched stems that often produce adventitious aerial roots. The leaves have spiny edges when the plants are growing in an open position, but can be totally spineless when growing in the shade.
The plant produces a cluster of flowers which appear in neatly organized spikes at branch tips. Flowers have a single large petal large, showy and light violet. When the pods ripen, they explode to propel the seeds up to 2m away. The plants flower gregariously.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and material for making soap.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, it is one of 9 plants in the drug 'Sahachara,' used for rheumatic complaints.
- Decoction of 30-60 g of dried material used for acute and chronic hepatitis, swelling-enlargement of the liver and spleen, swelling and enlargement of the lymph nodes, gastralgia, asthma.
- Decoction of roots and leaves used for asthma; also, to aid expectoration.
- Root boiled in milk used for leucorrhea and general debility.
- Used for gastrointestinal pains.
- Leaves are high in mucilage and used as emollient fomentation in rheumatism.
- Young leaves used as an antidote for snake venom.
- Leaves used for rheumatism, neuralgia, and poison arrow wounds.
- Decoction of whole plant used for kidney stones.
- Mucilaginous leaves used as emollient in rheumatism and neuralgia.
- Ground fresh bark is used as antiseptic.
- Decoction of leaves for pain and as blood purifier.
- Roots used for paralysis and asthma.