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Purpose: To determine the chemical constituents of the volatile oil of Chenopodium ambrosioides L. from Mianyang in Sichuan Province of China, and assess the sub-chronic toxicity of the volatile oil in mice.
Methods: The volatile chemical components were analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Sixty Kunming mice were divided into six groups of ten mice each. One group served as control (no treatment), two groups were orally administered ρ-cymene at doses of 3 and 7 mg/kg, respectively, for 27 days, while three groups received the volatile oil at doses of 10, 25 and 40 mg/kg, respectively, for the same duration. Sub-chronic toxicity in the mice was evaluated by observing their general behavior, measuring serum levels of aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT), evaluating liver, heart, kidney and thymus indices, and assessing the histological morphology of the organs.
Results: The volatile oil contained 14 chemical components, of which α-terpinene and ρ-cymene accounted for 32.89 and 24.25 %, respectively. The volatile oil caused significant (p < 0.05) increase in liver index, and serum AST and ALT levels, and also induced distinct morphological changes in mouse liver, heart and kidney.
Conclusion: The main volatile components of the oil are α-terpinene and ρ-cymene. The volatile oil showed dose-dependent toxicity in mice, thus lending some support for the safe use of C. ambrosioides in traditional medicine.
Keywords: Chenopodium ambrosioides, Volatile oil, Oral toxicity, AST and ALT, Histopathological changes