English Common Name: Tumbleweed, Gundelia
Arabic Name: عكوب
Gundelia is a spiny and thistle-like flowering plant of the genus Gundelia.It is generally found in countries with warm climates and a profusion of wildlife, such as in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Turkey to name a few. The leaves, stems, and roots of the flowering plant are edible when they first develop early on in the spring. This annual plant, with many branched stems, grows to various sizes and is eaten in the Taranto area of Apulia in southern Italy, as well as in rural Turkey. Known as aqubin Arabic, Arabs traditionally use it for both culinary and healing purposes.
Gundelia extract, through extensive research and experimentation, has proven to be significant in its medicinal capacity. Extracts of gundelia, intermixed with certain types of antibiotics, have shown inhibition to Pseudomonous aeruginosa (a common bacterium that causes disease in animals, including humans). Derivatives of gundelia root were effective in eradicating parasitic worms that cause the Schistosomiasis disease. Aqueous root extract seemed to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects against experimental tumor cells. In Jordan, the aerial parts of chicory (the family of Gundelia tournefortii) are infused and used as an antipyretic (reduces fever), and anti-colic (reduces inconsolable crying and fussiness in babies) agent. Similarly, it soothes, lubricates and softens irritated mucous membranes. A decoction of the roots is used as a soothing beverage for the lungs as well as a hypoglycemic agent (hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar level is too low). Chicory is also known to be a hepatic and a gastrointestinal stimulant. Root decoction is used to treat jaundice, gout and rheumatism. Other properties include being a diuretic, a laxative, an appetizer and a treatment for kidney stones. In India, it has been used to increase menstrual discharge and to prevent against infectious diseases. The juices and infusions of the plants are used as anticancer remedies to treat the cancer of the uterus, breast and face, as well as a gargle to treat mouth cancer. In addition to this, the latex in the stems is applied to warts in order to destroy them.