The Effects of Lepidium sativum Seeds on Fracture-Induced Healing in Rabbits

Abdullah bin Habeeballah bin Abdullah Juma, FRCSEd

In This Article


Healing of fractures was a major task that was studied immensely clinically, experimentally, and traditionally aiming at facilitating this phenomenon positively and documenting it by different methods, such as ultrasound,[11] biomechanical measurements,[12] and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.[13] The influences of many factors and medications on the healing of fractures were noted as well.[2,3]

However, alternative medicines, such as traditional folk medicine, have used natural elements from ancient times to now.[8] This was practiced for the treatment of many ailments in different societies.[7,9] L sativum and its seeds, in particular, were publicly used in Saudi Arabia as a traditional medicine, mostly for the treatment of recent traumatic fractures and less commonly in delayed or nonunited fractures. Good results of healing of fractures were observed over decades in the hands of traditional folk medicine practitioners. This was also noted by the author, who was encouraged to conduct laboratorial studies to investigate the effect of L sativum seeds on fracture healing in vivo. Recently, rats fed with L sativum seeds had their induced fractures tested for healing, and an increase of collagen deposition and tensile strength was found at the fracture sites.[10]

Our study aimed at confirming this phenomenon of accelerated healing of induced fractures in New Zealand White rabbits under the effects of L sativum seeds, which supports the observations that have been noted in clinical and traditional folk medicine practices.

The surgical procedure of open induction and reduction of fractures was unique, more accurate, and informative when compared with the other previous studies -- especially its application in clinical practice. The documentation of callus formation with 2 new methods, radiography and measurements in millimeters, was also new.

Rabbits, of average weight 4-5 kg, were fed 6 g of seeds daily. In comparison, the average human adult weight of 50-70 kg will require an intake of 75-105 g per day; this means 25-35 g (teaspoonful) if divided into 3 times a day for better tolerance and efficacy. Hence, the total consumption of seeds by a human adult will be 2-3 kg per month, and this is, of course, much cheaper than other adjuvant therapy and expensive medicine.

The callus formations in induced fractures of the test rabbits fed with L sativum seeds were statistically significant when compared with the control group, and these clearly indicated that they played a major role in promoting and accelerating callus formation in those fractures.

Looking at the current concepts of fracture healing on the basis of blood supply and stability, it was considered that the molecular activity of the fracture exudates was the most decisive factor for bone healing.[14] These fracture exudates have a high concentration of osseous morphogens, growth factors, osteoprogenitor cells, and bone-specific vessels,[15] which through them different factors can influence fracture healing by accelerating or inhibiting their activities.

Hence, the effects of L sativum seeds were possibly on 1 or more of these constituents, such as fatty acids,[16] protein,[17,18] or through their activities[19] as well as possible incorporation in the biological activities similar to the stable isotope tracers.[20]

Furthermore, the emulsifying properties of mucilages of the seeds, as stated in some studies,[21,22] were also possible contributory factors in the acceleration of the fracture healing phenomenon through their effects on fracture exudates.

Consequently, the tensile strength, stiffness of fractures, and other inhibitory factors -- which are also important elements[23,24,25] influencing fracture healing together with all previously mentioned factors -- will open a major field of further studies to be carried out under the influence of L sativum seeds.

Of note, L sativum seeds had no significant effects on the weight of rabbits, which was similarly noted by others.[10]


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