Acalypha in traditional health care practice. The

Acalypha
wilkesiana is commonly known as
copper leaf, Joseph’s coat or beef steak plant. It is a perennial shrub with
tiny reddish brown flowers. According to data published by World Health
Organization in 2009, it produces flowers throughout the year and the flowers
it bears are unisexual. Also, it can grow to 2.0 – 4.0 meters tall. One of its
distinct characteristics is that the leaves are curved and mostly in bronzy
green or red colors. This plant is actually native to Fiji and the islands
nearby which located in the South Pacific but it is distributed to most parts
of the world, typically in Asia, America and Africa. (GE, CN and ML, 2016)

A. wilkesiana is said to have antimicrobial and antifungal
properties. It is commonly used as a tradition herb. In a work published by Holdsworth,
D. et al. in 1992 and 1989 and from the traditional medicine database set up by
the national department of health of Papua New Guinea (cited in Medicinal
plants in Papua New Guinea, 2009) the leaves are made into juice and is drunk
as a treatment for diarrhea, dysentery and laryngitis. Besides that, the leaves
are also chewed on as first aid for ruptured appendicitis. (Medicinal plants in
Papua New Guinea, 2009) Its antimicrobial and antifungal properties are
believed to be the reasons for it to be used in traditional health care
practice. The juice of the leaves is also used to manage fungal skin
infections, hypertension and some gastrointestinal disorders in Southern
Nigeria. (GE, CN and ML, 2016) In a research done by Akinyemi KO. et al. in 2005
(cited in GE, CN and ML, 2016), sometimes, the leaf-poultice is used to treat
colds, malaria and headache.

The medical properties of A. wilkesiana in treating some diseases are proved in some
researches. This including a research done by Gotep et al. (cited in GE, CN and
ML, 2016), where the ethanol extracts of A.
wilkesiana is used to carry out in vitro antimicrobial screening. From
their research, it is found that the extract had varying antimicrobial activity
which is capable of suppressing the growth of several microorganisms that have
been implicated in gastrointestinal and skin diseases to certain degree. The
examples of microorganisms including Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella
typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella aerogenes. Besides, according to a study regarding the
effect of the plant extract administration on blood sugar and cholesterol
levels using a rat model by Ikewuchi et al. in 2010 (cited in GE, CN and ML,
2016), it is detected that the aqueous extract of the plant is capable of lowering
the blood cholesterol and sugar level, which explains the reason of using the
plant as a treatment for diabetes and cardiovascular related patients. However,
despite of its beneficial properties in reducing blood glucose level, the
prolonged usage of aqueous extract of the plant may cause damage to liver and
kidney. (Rufina, A. et al. 2011)

Currently, there is no
commercial product available in the market related to this plant. The actual
effect and potential of A. wilkesiana is still under investigation.
However, despite of one study that pointed out its side effect towards the
vital organs, this plant is still medicinally potential in treating various
disease as mentioned earlier. From the information gathered, it is believed
that the plant has potential to be made into medicinal cream in treating skin
fungal infections.

This plant can
be found in TARUC Block H.