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What Are the Medical Uses of Kalanchoe Pinnata?

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  • Written By: Stacy Taylor
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2014
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Kalanchoe pinnata — scientifically known as Bryophyllum calycinum and Bryophyllum pinnatum — is a succulent perennial plant found chiefly in Madagascar, China, Africa, and South America. Kalanchoe’s main medicinal value stems from a high concentration of alkaloids, steroids, lipids, and other phytochemical compounds present in extracts of the plant. Among holistic and herbal medicine communities, kalanchoe pinnata’s medical use typically covers a range of mild to severe health conditions and is administered internally, externally, or both, depending upon individual need. Other names for the plant include air plant, miracle leaf, Goethe plant, and life plant.

One of the most common medical uses for the kalanchoe pinnata is for the treatment of wounds and minor illnesses. For lesions, skin ulcers, and external infections, the leaves of the plant are mashed or boiled and applied directly to the affected area. Healers claim that the plant speeds healing while providing analgesic relief to the patient. For illnesses such as head colds and influenza symptoms, caregivers usually boil kalanchoe leaves to make a topical poultice or administer extracts in a warm drink. Some healers also rely on kalanchoe’s antiviral properties to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections such as staphylococcus, pseudomonas, and E. coli.

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Asian healers regularly use kalanchoe for conditions related to the eyes, ears, and throat. Ear infections and conjunctivitis might respond well to one or two drops of a diluted kalanchoe solution, while throat afflictions require a poultice made from the plant’s leaves. In both China and Trinidad, extracts and leaves from the plant are common ingredients in medicinal preparations for digestive illnesses, bleeding, inflammation, and respiratory conditions.

Musculoskeletal injuries also appear to benefit from treatments made with kalanchoe pinnata. South American and Chinese holistic healers often use the plant for sprains, fractures, strained muscles, and swelling. Trinidadians use kalanchoe for many physical illness as well as more abstract mental and emotional conditions. For instance, Trinidad healers might prepare a bath of kalanchoe leaves to dispel enchantments or make a warm drink with the leaves to combat parasites such as the tay tay worm.

Despite a degree of controversy among medical professionals about the efficacy of kalanchoe pinnata, some medical journals have cited successful clinical trials. For example, the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology reported positive results from a trial in which kalanchoe root was used to destroy parasitic worms. Additionally, the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology published the results of a study in which a solution made from kalanchoe extracts quickly healed the wounds of live rats.

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Discuss this Article

anon340912
Post 4

I am growing two types of the plant in Huntington Beach, California. Mine came from the Virgin Islands in 2012. Since then I have over 35 potted plants with hundreds of seedlings to transplant that come from the edge of its leaves. The other type of Kalanchoe I have sprouted seedlings from leaves on soil. Both are used in medicinal healing.

anon337206
Post 3

Does anyone know a good way to store the plant for medicinal purposes, since its leaves are so succulent?

julies
Post 2

I like to use alternative medicine or home remedies whenever possible, and always give something like this a try before I rely on a prescription medication.

When it comes to using plants like this I do feel much better about it when I know that successful clinical trials have been done on it. Even though kalanchoe is a natural product, it doesn't mean it will be effective for everyone.

Everybody responds differently to medications whether they are prescribed, or a home remedy used with herbs and plants. I know there have been many clinical trials done using plants and would not hesitate to use kalanchoe knowing the history behind it.

honeybees
Post 1

I have never heard of the kalanchoe pinnata before, but with names like miracle leaf and life plant, I can see why it has so many different uses. It sounds like you could use this for just about any minor problem with positive results. If I lived in a place where this was common, I would probably try to keep some around all the time.

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