What is Sida cordifolia?
Sida Cordifolia (Malvaceae) is popularly known as "malva-branca" (white mallow or silky white mallow) is a plant native to Northeast Brazil. It has been used in folk medicine for the treatment of inflammation, asthma, bronchitis, and nasal congestion. Research suggest that it has hypoglycaemic (blood lowering properties), antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic (pain relieving properties) properties. Because the leaves of Sida cordifolia contain small amounts of both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine many nutritional companies have included it as a weight loss product.
Research has shown that Sida cordifolia leaves contain small quantities of both ephedrine and pseudoephidrine (Ghosal et al., 1975). However, the quantities are low, with less than 2% of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine found in the leaves of Sida cordifolia. Ephedrine is known to stimulate the central nervous system (CNS), and as such can enhance weight loss. Traditionally nutrition companies used plants such as Ma-Huang (Ephedra plant), because it contained relatively large amounts of ephedrine, in their weight loss products. However, since this product was banned in many countries including the USA and UK, they are now looking for alternatives. Sida cordifolia, with its ephedrine and pseudoephedrine has gained a lot of interest and is now sold by many of these companies. Some of these companies promote Sida cordifolia as a weight loss supplement by claiming that it stimulates the CNS.
Unfortunately, there is no research in human or animal studies, to support Sida cordifolia's use as a CNS stimulator. In fact, research shows that rather than being a stimulant, Sida cordifolia actually acts as a depressant and decreases CNS activity (Franco et al., 2005). The mice used in this study showed a decreased response to touch as well as a reduction in nerve activity. Additional research appears to confirm that Sida cordifolia does not stimulate the CNS (Medeiros et al., 2005). In this study the oral consumption of Sida cordifolia by rats actually caused a decrease in both heart rate and blood pressure. If it was having a stimulatory effect we would see both heart rate and blood pressure increase. Since Sida cordifolia fails to increase CNS activity, as claimed by some companies, it cannot promote fat loss through CNS stimulation.
Sida cordifolia and weight loss
Sida cordifolia may aid weight loss through it’s hypoglycaemic (blood sugar lowering) activity. Research studies have shown that it possesses a significant blood-sugar lowering activity (Chopra et al., 1956; Kanth and Diwan, 1999) and therefore may help to reduce the storage of fat within fat cells. Sida cordifolia also appears to protect against increases in blood glucose level during periods of stress (Sumanth and Mustafa 2009).
Sida cordifolia and reduced sensitivity to pain/increased pain tolerance and (antioceptive activity)
Research has also demonstrated that Sida cordifolia can increase pain tolerance and reduce the sensitivity to painful stimuli (Kanth and Diwan, 1999; Franzotti et al., 2000; Bonjardim et al., 2011). When rats were exposed to heat, rats that consumed Sida cordifolia had a greater heat tolerance (Franzotti et al., 2000).
Sida cordifolia’s antioxidant activity
A number of studies have demonstrated that Sida cordifolia possesses potent antioxidant activity and can significantly increase endogenous antioxidants (Auddy et al., 2003; Kubavat and Asdaq 2009; Swathy et al., 2010). Research has found that Sida cordifolia extract had potent antioxidant activity in rats brains (Swathy et al., 2010) and has been shown to significantly increase the endogenous antioxidants in rat hearts (Kubavat and Asdaq 2009).
Sida cordifolia’s anti-inflammatory activity
Sida cordifolia has been shown to possess potent anti-inflammatory activity (Kanth and Diwan, 1999; Franzotti et al., 2000; Swathy et al., 2010). Researchers (Swathy et al., 2010) looked at the effect of Sida cordifolia on quinolinic acid induced neurotoxicity in rats, found it to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that was comparable to the drug Deprenyl (selegiline hydrochloride) – an antidepressant that has been shown to improve memory, and protect the brain against cell damage. The administration of Sida cordifolia extract was found to reduce lipid peroxidation and the activity of inflammatory markers whilst significantly increase the activity of scavenging enzymes (antioxidant enzymes) in the rats brain. Sida cordifolia was also found to reduce pyrexia (fever) induced by a vaccine and exerted an anti-ulcerogenic effect against and ethanol induced damage (Philip et al., 2008).
Sida cordifolia has potent hepatoprotective action (liver protective)
Recent research indicates that Sida cordifolia extract (50% ethanolic extract) possesses a potent hepatoprotective action against alcohol-induced toxicity (Rejitha et al., 2012). The researchers found that the administration of Sida cordifolia extract to alcohol treated rats increased the activity of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione content back to near normal levels. The researchers also found that elevated levels of toxicity markers (induced by alcohol intoxication) were lower in the Sida cordifolia treated group. Research has also found that the aqueous extract of Sida cordifolia stimulated a high liver regeneration rate in rats submitted to 67% partial hepatectomy (Silva et al., 2006).
Sida cordifolia has antistress, adaptogenic and cortisol lowering properties
Animal studies have found that Sida cordifolia possesses both antistress and adaptogenic activity. Under stressful conditions cortisol is released in to the blood, as plasma cortisol levels increase they mobilize stored fat and muscle glycogen, which leads to increased blood glucose levels. Researchers found that Mice that were fed Sida cordifolia extract had reduced plasma cortisol and blood glucose levels, and showed significant improvement in swim time during a swim stress test (Sumanth and Mustafa 2009).
Animal studies appear to show that it has a low toxicity (Franzotti et al., 2000; Auddy et al., 2003; Franco et al., 2005) although this needs to be confirmed in humans.
- Possesses hypoglycaemic (blood sugar lowering) properties
- Only limited evidence to support it's use as a weight loss supplement
- Increases pain tolerance
- Has an anti-inflammatory effect
- Potent antioxidant properties including the ability to increase endogenous antioxidant activity
- Has a liver protective and potential liver regeneration effect
- Helps to normalise cortisol and blood glucose levels during periods of stress
- Possesses antistress and adaptogenic properties
- It has a depressant rather than a stimulant effect on the Central Nervous System
- May decrease both blood pressure and heart rate
There is, at present, only limited evidence to support the use of Sida cordifolia as a weight loss product in humans. However, it possesses potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antistress/adaptogenic properties.
There is currently no research on an effective dose level for Sida cordifolia in humans.
Sida cordifolia side effects
Some of the side effects reported for Sida cordifolia include: nervousness, irritability, trembling, headache, dizziness, itchy scalp and skin, vomiting and hyperthermia.
Auddy, B., Ferreira, M., Blasina, F., Lafon, L., Arredondo, F., Dajas, F., Tripathi, P. C., Seal, T. and Mukherjee, B. (2003) Screening of antioxidant activity of three Indian medicinal plants, traditionally used for management of neurodegenerative diseases. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 84, 131-138.
Bonjardim LR, Silva AM, Oliveira MG, Guimarães AG, Antoniolli AR, Santana MF, Serafini MR, Santos RC, Araújo AA, Estevam CS, Santos MR, Lyra A, Carvalho R, Quintans-Júnior LJ, Azevedo EG, Botelho MA. (2011) Sida cordifolia leaf extract reduces the orofacial nociceptive response in mice. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1236-41.
Franco, C. I. F., Morais, L. C. S. L., Quintans-Junior, L. J., Almeida, R. N. and Antoniolli, A. R. (2005) CNS pharmacological effects of the hydroalcoholic extract of Sida cordifolia L. leaves. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 98, 275-279.
Franzotti, E. M., Santos, C. V. F., Rodrigues, H. M. S. L., Mourao, R. H. V., Andrade, A. R. and Antoniolli, A. R. (2000) Anti-inflammatory, analgesic activity and acute toxicity of Sida cordifolia L. (Malva-branca). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 72, 273-278.
Ghosal, S., Chauhan, R. R. P. S. and Mehta, R. (1975) Alkaloids of Sida cordifolia. Phytherapy Chemistry. 14, 830-832.
Kanth, V. R. and Diwan, P. V. (1999) Analgesic, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycaemic activities of Sida cordifolia. Phytopherapy Research. 13 (1), 75-7.
Kubavat JB, Asdaq SM. (2009) Role of Sida cordifolia L. leaves on biochemical and antioxidant profile during myocardial injury. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 6;124(1):162-5.
Mediros, I. A., Santos, M. R. V., Nascimento, N. M. S. and Duarte, J. C. (2005) Cardiovascular effects of Sida cordifolia leaves extract in rats. Fitoterapia. ARTICLE IN PRESS.
Philip BK, Muralidharan A, Natarajan B, Varadamurthy S, Venkataraman S. (2008) Preliminary evaluation of anti-pyretic and anti-ulcerogenic activities of Sida cordifolia methanolic extract. Fitoterapia. 2008 Apr;79(3):229-31.
Rejitha S, Prathibha P and Indira, M (2012) Amelioration of alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity by the administration of ethanolic extract of Sida cordifolia Linn. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jan 31:1-8
Silva RL, Melo GB, Melo VA, Antoniolli AR, Michellone PR, Zucoloto S, Picinato MA, Franco CF, Mota Gde A, Silva Ode C. (2006) Effect of the aqueous extract of Sida cordifolia on liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy. Acta Cir Bras. 2006;21 Suppl 1:37-9.
Sumanth M and Mustafa S S (2009) Antistress, Adoptogenic Activity of Sida cordifolia Roots in Mice. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009 May;71(3):323-4
Swathy SS, Panicker S, Nithya RS, Anuja MM, Rejitha S, Indira M. (2010) Antiperoxidative and antiinflammatory effect of Sida cordifolia Linn. on quinolinic acid induced neurotoxicity. Neurochem Res. 2010 Sep;35(9):1361-7. Epub 2010 May 25.