Plants belonging to the genus Onopordum are members of the Compositae family, comprising of about 40 species. Onopordum species are thistles of rough-grazing pasture that are distributed throughout the Mediterranean and semiarid areas of Eurasia and North Africa. Onopordum comes from the Latin name for a group of thistles, derived from the Greek onos, meaning "ass", and porde, flatulence, because of the belief that the plant caused flatulence in donkeys. They grow on disturbed land, roadsides, arable land and pastures.
Onoprodum cynarocephalum, a species of Onopordum, grows wild in Lebanon and has been traditionally employed for its antibacterial, hemostatic, and hypotensive properties and for the treatment of skin cancer. The plant grows 0.5-3 meters tall with an alternate leaf pattern and purple flowers. Nutrient rich soils are preferred for optimal growth and the flowering period falls between May and July.
Some of the biological activities of Onopordum genera include the ability to change the rhythmic system by adjusting heart rate activity. The biological activity of Onopordum is due to the presence of many secondary metabolites with flavonoids, lignans and sesquiterpene lactones being the most common constituents.
IBSAR has shown Onopordum cynarocephalum to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity. In the colon cancer model the crude extract has the ability to activate apoptosis (cell death) by increasing the amount of apoptotic and inhibiting anti-apoptotic proteins. The amount of tumors was reduced by 64%. In both studies, the extracts did not affect normal cells.
Inhibition of Endotoxin-Induced Pro-Inflammatory Markers by Water Extracts of Onopordum cynarocephalum and Achillea damascene: View Abstract
Onopordum cynarocephalum induces apoptosis and protects against 1,2 dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer: View Abstract