The Bell African Lily (Agapanthus campanulatus): Effects on Neurochemistry

The bell African lily (Agapanthus campanulatus) is a perennial plant with narrow leaves and which form clumps of drooping blue or white flowers that resemble funnels. The plant grows to about 1 meter in height and is native to South Africa. Evidence suggests that the Agapanthus campanulatus may have particular effects on neurochemistry in animals and that these effects may make the herb an effective treatment for mood disorders. For example, in one study researchers investigated the antidepressant effects of Agapanthus campanulatus in mice. The results of the study showed that administration of Agapanthus campanulatus extract for mice significantly reduced the depressive symptoms of the mice when they were exposed to experimental stress. The same authors also showed that the Agapanthus campanulatus extracts had the potential to alter serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine transport in cell culture studies. The effects of the herb may therefore relate to changes it causes in monoamine metabolism.

bell african lily mood anxiety depression

Agapanthus campanulatus is used traditionally in Africa to treat people with mental illness. This may be explained by the ability of the plant to alter neurochemistry. The leaves and flowers of Agapanthus campanulatus have been shown to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin from neuronal spaces, suggesting that they may be able to alter serotonin metabolism.

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Pedersen, M. E., Szewczyk, B., Stachowicz, K., Wieronska, J., Andersen, J., Stafford, G. I., van Staden, J., Pilc, A. and Jäger, A. K. 2008. Effects of South African traditional medicine in animal models for depression. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 119(3): 542-548
Nielsen, N. D., Sandager, M., Stafford, G. I., van Staden, J. and Jäger, A. K. 2004. Screening of indigenous plants from South Africa for affinity to the serotonin reuptake transport protein. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 94(1): 159-163

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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