Smallanthus sonchifolia Yacon by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 1 2017

Smallanthus sonchifolia is a plant that produces tasty, nutritious root vegetables and leaves. Smallanthus sonchifolia is a good source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). This plant  may be used to help regulate blood sugar, and to promote healthy intestinal flora, aiding the beneficial bacteria in their fight against bodily infections. Smallanthus sonchifolia is the botanical name and this herb is also known as yacon.

Smallanthus sonchifolius is a tasty, potato-like root vegetable found in Peru. Historically, Smallanthus sonchifolius has been used in South America to lower blood sugar in those with diabetes and improve digestion. Smallanthus sonchifolius roots are a rich source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and have a long use tradition as food in the Andean region. This plant has several flavonoids including protocatechuic, chlorogenic, caffeic and ferulic acids.

Smallanthus sonchifolia Plant as an antioxidant and for blood sugar management
The constituents relate to anti-oxidative and alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activities in Smallanthus sonchifolia aerial part extract
Yakugaku Zasshi. 2006. Research Laboratory, Zenyaku Kogyo Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.
Hot water extract of the aerial part of Yacon Smallanthus sonchifolia, Compositae showed potent free radical-scavenging activity and inhibitory effects on lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenate. The most potent antioxidative activity focused on the 50% MeOH-eluted fraction. The structure of the major component in the fraction was identified as 2,3,5-tricaffeoylaltraric acid (TCAA). The antioxidative activity of TCAA is superior to that of natural antioxidants such as catechin, alpha-tocopherol, and ellagic acid. As the hypoglycemic activity of Smallanthus sonchifolia extract was described in a previous report, the present results showing that the aerial part of Smallanthus sonchifolia has strong antioxidative activity may encourage its potential use as a food supplement to prevent type II diabetes.

Anti-bacterial against bacterial infections
Antibacterial and synergistic effects of Smallanthus sonchifolius leaf extracts against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus under light intensity.
J Nat Med. 2010. Department of Oriental Medicine Resources, College of Bio Industry Science, Sunchon National University, Sunchon, Jeonnam, Republic of Korea.
Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) is a perennial plant mostly cultivated in South America, primarily for use of the tubers as a food crop and the leaves as fodder for livestock. The antibacterial activities of the methanol extract of yacon leaves (S. sonchifolius) and its n-hexane, ethyl acetate, n-butanol and water fractions were evaluated against 6 strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and 1 standard methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strain by using the disc diffusion method and minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) assay in the presence and absence of light. No activity was detected when the two methods were performed without light; however, under illumination at 4000 lux, the n-hexane fraction of yacon (HFY) had a MIC of 15.6 mug/ml. HFYL, prepared by exposure of HFY to 4000 lux for 18 h, was more effective than HFY in terms of antimicrobial activity against the 6 MRSA strains and 1 standard MSSA strain. HFYL mixed with ampicillin or oxacillin showed a synergistic effect with all fractional inhibitory concentrations values being below 0.5. The present study demonstrates the enhancement and antimicrobial activity of yacon leaves against MRSA in the presence of light.

Plant constituents, substances
Study on chemical constituents of Smallanthus sonchifolius
Zhong Yao Cai. 2008; Guangxi Vocational & Technical Institute of Industry, Nanning, China.
To study the chemical constituents of Smallanthus sonchifolius. Seven compounds were isolated from the chloroform fraction of 75% alcohol extract from the leaves of Smallanthus sonchifolius. Their structures were elucidated as gallic acid, beta-sitosterol, behenic acid, Kaempferol, Quercetin, vanillic acid, hexadecanoic acid.

Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2008 . Melampolides from the leaves of Smallanthus sonchifolius and their inhibitory activity of lps-induced nitric oxide production. Two new melampolide-type sesquiterpene lactones, 8beta-epoxyangeloyloxy-9alpha-ethoxy-14-oxo-acanthospermolide (1) and 8beta-angeloyloxy-9alpha-ethoxy-14-oxo-acanthospermolide (2), were isolated from the leaves of yacon [Smallanthus sonchifolia (POEPP. et ENDL.) H. Robinson] along with eleven known melampolides, allo-schkuhriolide (3), enhydrin (4), polymatin A (5), fluctuanin (6), 8beta-angeloyloxy-9alpha-acetoxy-14-oxo-acanthospermolide (7), 8beta-angeloyloxy-14-oxo-acanthospermolide (8), 8beta-methacryloyloxymelampolid-14-oic acid methyl ester (9), uvedalin (10), polymatin B (11), 8beta-tigloyloxymelampolid-14-oic acid methyl ester (12), and sonchifolin (13). Their structures were established on the basis of spectroscopic evidence including 1D- and 2D-NMR experiments. All isolates were evaluated for inhibition of LPS-induced nitric oxide production in murine macrophage RAW 264.7 cells.

Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2008. Melampolides from the leaves of Smallanthus sonchifolius and their inhibitory activity of lps-induced nitric oxide production.

Can this herb be used together with Boswellia Serrata?
    We have not seen studies that have used boswellia with this herb, but small amounts used together should not pose risks.