Medicinal uses of Fructus Ammi Visnagae | Umbelliferae

Medicinal uses of Fructus Ammi Visnagae | Umbelliferae

Fructus Ammi Visnagae consists of the dried ripe fruits of Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam. (Apiaceae) An annual or biennial herb, up to 1.0 m high. Leaves dentate, in strips. Stems erect, highly branched. Inflorescence umbellate; rays, highly swollen at the base, become woody and are used as toothpicks.

Medicinal uses of Fructus Ammi Visnagae | Umbelliferae

Synonyms:  Daucus visnaga L., Selinum visnaga E.H.L. Krause, Sium visnaga Stokes, Visnaga daucoides Gaertn. Apiaceae are also known as Umbelliferae.

Selected vernacular names: Ammi, besnika, bisagna, bishop’s weed, herbe aux cure-dents, herbe aux gencives, kella, kella balady, khelal dandane, khella, nunha, owoc keli, Spanish carrot, viznaga, Zahnstocherkraut

Major chemical constituents

The major constituents are γ-pyrones (furanochromone derivatives; up to 4%), the principal compounds being khellin (0.3–1.2%) and visnagin (0.05–0.30%). Other γ-pyrones of significance are khellinol, ammiol, khellol and its glucoside khellinin (0.3–1.0%). A second group of major constituents are the coumarins (0.2–0.5%), the main one being the pyranocoumarin visnadin (0.3%). Essential oil contains camphor, α-terpineol and linalool, among others, and also fixed oil (up to 18%)

Medicinal uses

Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established documents: As an antispasmodic, muscle relaxant and vasodilator

Uses described in traditional medicine

Treatment of mild anginal symptoms. Supportive treatment of mild obstruction of the respiratory tract in asthma, bronchial asthma or spastic bronchitis, and postoperative treatment of conditions associated with the presence of urinary calculi. Treatment of gastrointestinal cramps and painful menstruation. Internally as an emmenagogue to regulate menstruation, as a diuretic, and for treatment of vertigo, diabetes and kidney stones


Experimental pharmacology
Antimicrobial activities

A 50% acetone, 50% aqueous or 95% ethanol extract of Fructus Ammi Visnagae inhibited the growth of the fungus Neurospora crassa in vitro. A 95% ethanol extract of the fruits inhibited the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37RVTMC 102 at a dilution of 1:40 in vitro.An aqueous extract of the fruits, 2–10 mg/ml inhibited growth and aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus; the effects were dose-dependent

Antispasmodic effects

A methanol extract of the fruits, 1.0 mg/ml, inhibited potassium chloride induced contractions in rabbit aorta in vitro. A chloroform extract of the fruits (concentration not specified) inhibited potassium chloride induced contractions in guinea-pig aorta in vitro.

Visnadin inhibited carbaminoylcholine- and atropine-induced contractions in isolated guinea-pig ileum at concentrations of 8.8 μmol/l and 0.02 μmol/l, respectively. Visnagin, 1.0 μmol/l, inhibited the contractile responses in rat aortic rings induced by potassium chloride, norepinephrine and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, and spontaneous myogenic contractions of rat portal veins. Visnagin appears to inhibit only contractions mediated by calcium entry through pathways with low sensitivity to classical calcium channel blockers

Cardiovascular effects

Visnadin, 60.0 μg/ml or 120.0 μg/ml, increased coronary blood flow in isolated guinea-pig hearts by 46% and 57% and blood fl ow in a Laewan-Trendelenburg frog vascular preparation by 78% and 147%, respectively. Interarterial administration of 10.0 mg/kg body weight (bw) of visnadin to anaesthetized dogs increased blood fl ow by 30–100%, the effect lasting for 20 minutes after administration.

Six compounds isolated from the fruits were tested for their ability to dilate coronary blood vessels in rabbits. Coronary vasospasm and myocardial ischaemia were induced by daily intramuscular injections of vasopressin tannate. All compounds were administered at 4.7 mg/kg bw per day by intramuscular injection for 7 days. Visnadin, dihydrosamidin, khellin and samidin effectively normalized the electrocardiogram, while visnagin and khellol glucoside were inactive. Positive inotropic effects were observed in dogs treated with intramuscular injections of samidin and khellol glucoside. No effects were observed for visnadin, dihydrosamidin, khellin and visnagin at varying doses.

Clinical pharmacology

A placebo-controlled study assessed the effects of oral administration of 50 mg of khellin four times per day for 4 weeks on the plasma lipids of 20 non-obese, normolipaemic male subjects. Plasma lipids were measured every week during treatment and 1 week after cessation. Plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations remained unchanged, while high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations were significantly elevated, the effect lasting until 1 week after cessation of treatment.

Adverse reactions

Pseudoallergic reactions and reversible cholestatic jaundice have been reported. High oral doses of khellin (100.0 mg/day) reversibly elevated the activities of liver transaminases and γ-glutamyltransferase. Prolonged use or overdose may cause nausea, vertigo, constipation, lack of appetite, headache and sleeplessness


Fructus Ammi Visnagae is used in traditional systems of medicine as an emmenagogue, and its safety during pregnancy has not been established. Therefore, in accordance with standard medical practice, the fruits should not be used during pregnancy. 


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