©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
June 2014

Frasera albicaulis var. nitida

California. Sierra Nevada, Sierra Co., south of Calpine
SPJ-14819,  08 June 2002

Frasera speciosa

Colorado—Rocky Mts. Routt Co., Routt NF: Hwy 129 to FR 500, north of Columbine, near WY state line; 40º53'28.6", 106º55’03.0”, 2700 m.  Vast meadow in pine forest region. SPJ-16412, 4 Aug 2008.


Frasera speciosa
Synonym: Swertia radiata
SW Wyoming
June 2005

Frasera (Swertia) fastigiata
Idaho. Nez Perce Co.: Cold Springs Creek, ~20 miles S of Grangeville along west side of FR 221; 45º48.795", 116º04.204", 5150 ft.  Meadows along creek in subalpine fir-lodgepole pine forest with Veratrum californicum var. californicum
21 July 2010


Brahmachari G., S. Mondal, A. Gangopadhyay, D. Gorai, B. Mukhopadhyay, S. Saha and A.K. Brahmachari.  2004. Swertia (Gentianaceae): chemical and pharmacological aspects. Chem Biodivers. 1(11): 1627–1651. Review. “A compilation of the constituents isolated from Swertia species covering the literature up to December 2003 is presented. The botanical classification and ethno-pharmacology of Swertia plants, as well as the biological activities and pharmacological applications of both distinct phytochemicals and medicinally active plant materials (formulations, extracts, etc.) are discussed in detail.

Hajimehdipoor H., Z. Sadeghi, S. Elmi, A. Elmi, M. Ghazi-Khansari, Y. Amanzadeh and S. E. Sadat-Ebrahimi.  2006. Protective effects of Swertia longifolia Boiss. and its active compound, swerchirin, on paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in mice. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 58(2): 277–280. “Aerial parts of Swertia longifolia Boiss. (Gentianaceae), which grows in the north of Iran, were screened for hepatoprotective activity against paracetamol (acetaminophen)-induced hepatotoxicity in Swiss mice. Pretreatment with total plant extract and swerchirin, the major component of the plant, significantly reduced the elevation of biochemical parameters, AST (aspartate aminotransferase), ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and ALP (alkaline phosphatase), the enzymes that are increased by liver damage (P < 0.001). Our results indicated that total plant extract and swerchirin were hepatoprotective in the range of 6-50 mg kg(-1) orally.

Hase K., Q. Xiong, P. Basnet, T. Namba and S. Kadota. 1999. Inhibitory effect of tetrahydroswertianolin on tumor necrosis factor-alpha-dependent hepatic apoptosis in mice. Biochem. Pharmacol. 57(12): 1431–1437. “We investigated the effect of tetrahydroswertianolin (THS), a hepatoprotective agent from Swertia japonica, on tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-dependent hepatic apoptosis induced by D-galactosamine (D-GalN) (700 mg/kg, i.p.) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (10 microg/kg, i.p.) in mice. Apoptotic symptoms were observed at the initial stage of liver damage. By 5 hr after intoxication, hepatic DNA fragmentation had risen to 2123%, with the value in untreated mice set at 100%, without a significant elevation of serum alanine transaminase (ALT) activity. There was a parallel increase in hepatocytes undergoing chromatin condensation and apoptotic body formation. By 8 hr after intoxication, serum ALT activity had risen to 3707 U/L. Pretreatment with THS (50 mg/kg, p.o.) at 18 and 2 hr before intoxication significantly reduced DNA fragmentation to 821% of that in untreated mice and prevented the emergence of chromatin condensation and apoptotic body formation. A significant and dose-dependent reduction in serum ALT activity at 8 hr also was observed with THS pretreatment. These effects of THS were different from those observed from pretreatment with glycyrrhizin (GCR), which is a clinically used hepatoprotective agent with membrane-stabilizing activity. GCR pretreatment (100 mg/kg, p.o.) did not inhibit hepatic DNA fragmentation (1588% of untreated mice), although this compound significantly protected against serum ALT elevation (1463 U/L). These data suggest that an inhibitory effect on the progression of hepatic apoptosis prior to liver injury may be involved in the hepatoprotective mechanisms of THS, whereas it appears that GCR affects the processes after apoptosis. In a separate experiment, we found that the concentration of serum TNF-alpha rose to 2016 pg/mL at 1 hr after intoxication of mice with D-GalN and LPS, but this increase was suppressed by THS pretreatment (10, 50, or 200 mg/kg, p.o.) to 716, 454, or 406 pg/mL, respectively. Further study with a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction method showed that THS blocked TNF-alpha production at the transcriptional level. Because TNF-alpha is a critical mediator to elicit apoptosis in this model, the property of suppressing TNF-alpha production may be of prime importance for THS inhibition of hepatic apoptosis.

Medda S., S. Mukhopadhyay S and M. K.  Basu. 1999. Evaluation of the in-vivo activity and toxicity of amarogentin, an antileishmanial agent, in both liposomal and niosomal forms. J. Antimicrob. Chemother. 44(6): 791-794. “The antileishmanial property of amarogentin, a secoiridoid glycoside isolated from the Indian medicinal plant Swertia chirata, was examined in a hamster model of experimental leishmaniasis. The therapeutic efficacy of amarogentin was evaluated in free and two different vesicular forms, liposomes and niosomes. The amarogentin in both liposomal and niosomal forms was found to be a more active leishmanicidal agent than the free amarogentin; and the niosomal form was found to be more efficacious than the liposomal form at the same membrane microviscosity level. Toxicity studies involving blood pathology, histological staining of tissues and specific enzyme levels related to normal liver function showed no toxicity. Hence, amarogentin incorporated in liposomes or niosomes may have clinical application in the treatment of leishmaniasis.

Pengsuparp T., L. Cai, H. Constant, H. H. Fong, L. Z. Lin, A. D. Kinghorn, J. M. Pezzuto, G. A. Cordell, K. Ingolfsdóttir, H. Wagner H, et al.  1995. Mechanistic evaluation of new plant-derived compounds that inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. J. Nat. Prod. 58(7):1024-1031. “Swertifrancheside [1], a new flavonone-xanthone glucoside isolated from Swertia franchetiana, 1 beta-hydroxyaleuritolic acid 3-p-hydroxybenzoate [2], a triterpene isolated from the roots of Maprounea africana, and protolichesterinic acid [3], an aliphatic alpha-methylene-gamma-lactone isolated from the lichen Cetraria islandica, were found to be potent inhibitors of the DNA polymerase activity of human immunodeficiency virus-1 reverse transcriptase (HIV-1 RT), with 50% inhibitory doses (IC50 values) of 43, 3.7, and 24 microM, respectively. They were not cytotoxic with cultured mammalian cells. The kinetic mechanisms by which compounds 1-3 inhibited HIV-1 RT were studied as was their potential to inhibit other nucleic acid polymerases. Swertifrancheside [1] bound to DNA and was shown to be a competitive inhibitor with respect to template-primer, but a mixed-type competitive inhibitor with respect to TTP. On the other hand, 1 beta-hydroxyaleuritolic acid 3-p-hydroxybenzoate [2] and protolichesterinic acid [3] were mixed-type competitive inhibitors with respect to template-primer and noncompetitive inhibitors with respect to TTP. Therefore, the mechanism of action of 1 beta-hydroxyaleuritolic acid 3-p-hydroxybenzoate [2] and protolichesterinic acid [3] as HIV-1 RT inhibitors involves nonspecific binding to the enzyme at nonsubstrate binding sites, whereas swertifrancheside [1] inhibits enzyme activity by binding to the template-primer.

Rodriguez S., J. L. Wolfender, E. Hakizamungu and K. Hostettmann. 1995. An antifungal naphthoquinone, xanthones and secoiridoids from Swertia calycina. Planta Med. 61(4): 362–364. “A chemical and biological screening of 25 species of the Gentianaceae family has been undertaken. Both methanolic and dichloromethane extracts of Swertia calycina exhibited a strong antifungal activity against Cladosporium cucumerinum and Candida albicans. The compound responsible for this activity has been isolated and identified as 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone. It is the first naphthoquinone to be described in Gentianaceae species. LC-UV and LC-TSP-MS analysis of the crude extracts of Swertia calycina also allowed on-line identification of six known xanthones and secoiridoids.

Saha P., S. Mandal, A. Das and S. Das. 2006. Amarogentin can reduce hyperproliferation by downregulation of Cox-II and upregulation of apoptosis in mouse skin carcinogenesis model. Cancer Lett.  244(2): 252–259. “Swertia chirata, is a bitter plant, used in the Indian system of medicine (Ayurveda) for various human ailments. Our laboratory was the first to report the chemopreventive effect of this plant. The antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic action of amarogentin rich fraction of S. chirata is now demonstrated on a mouse skin carcinogenesis model. Immunohistochemical localization revealed a reduction in proliferating and increase in apoptotic cells in skin lesion following treatment, also reflected in the expression of molecular markers--Cox-II and caspase-3 proteins. It may be possible to calculate relative risk, relative protection and attributable risk from the action of test agents on proliferation and apoptosis.

Saxena A. M., P. S. Murthy and S. K.  Mukherjee. 1996. Mode of action of three structurally different hypoglycemic agents: a comparative study. Indian J. Exp. Biol. 34(4): 351–355. “The mechanism of dose-dependent hypoglycemic effect, the margin of safety and ED50 of three structurally unrelated compounds, tolbutamide (TB), centpiperalone (CP) and a swerchirin-containing fraction (SWI) from the plant Swertia chirayita, were investigated in experimental models. After a single oral administration of TB, CP and SWI to groups of normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced mild and severe diabetic rats, the blood sugar lowering effect and ED50 of the agents were determined. Plasma Immuno Reactive Insulin (IRI) levels and the degree of islet beta cell degranulation were assayed using RIA and histochemical staining, respectively, in normal rats treated with the agents. The percent blood sugar lowering, increase in IRI levels and beta cell degranulation were highest in CP treated normal rats (69, 124 and 75%, respectively). In addition, CP was the only agent found active in STZ-induced severely diabetic rats (P < 0.01). In STZ-mild diabetic rats, however, TB was more effective than CP and SWI. By analysis of data using Anova method, it is concluded that CP is more effective than SWI (P < 0.01) and TB. However, SWI an impure natural product showed better blood sugar lowering than tolbutamide which is a drug in use.

Yang H, Ding C, Duan Y, Liu J.  2005. Variation of active constituents of an important Tibet folk medicine Swertia mussotii Franch. (Gentianaceae) between artificially cultivated and naturally distributed. J. Ethnopharmacol. 98(1-2): 31–35. “Concentrations of seven phytochemical constituents (swertiamarin, mangiferin, swertisin, oleanolic acid, 1,5,8-trihydroxy-3-methoxyxanthone, 1,8-dihydroxy-3,7-dimethoxyxanthone and 1,8-dihydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyxanthone) of "ZangYinChen" (Swertia mussotii, a herb used in Tibetan folk medicine) were determined and compared in plants collected from naturally distributed high-altitude populations and counterparts that had been artificially cultivated at low altitudes. Levels of mangiferin, the most abundant active compound in this herb, were significantly lower in cultivated samples and showed a negative correlation with altitude. The other constituents were neither positively nor negatively correlated with cultivation at low altitude. Concentrations of all of the constituents varied substantially with growth stage and were highest at the bud stage in the cultivars, but there were no distinct differences between flowering and fruiting stages in this respect.