Rock samphire is an edible, aromatic plant with a powerful scent which “packs” a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. It grows wild in rock crevices, rocky shores and beaches in Europe especially along the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. It was consumed in the traditional diet of the first European farmers, as it is a significant source of minerals. It was also consumed by sailors of old as a protection against scurvy.
For its potential health benefits we have available three different sources of information. Modern studies, traditional knowledge and ancient botanists.
Modern studies have proven that 100g of Crithmum Maritimum leaves per day meet the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids, antioxidant products & high ABTS radical scavenging activity
Modern studies also show that Crithmum Maritimum leaves are rich in several other compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids as well as bioactive substances that could be used for aromatic, medicinal, antimicrobial and insecticide purposes. The oils extracted from leaves showed the presence of high concentrations of fatty acids of the ω-3 and ω-6 series which have beneficial effects against coronary heart diseases. Recent works (2008) revealed that extract from its leaves also exhibited high phenol content and high ABTS radical scavenging activity. while rock samphire is also a valuable source of antioxidant products, especially chlorogenic acid.
Quinic acid, a compound used for treatment influenza (e.g. in Tamiflu)
Rock Samphire also contains quinic acid, an important phenolic compound produced synthetically by hydrolysis of chlorogenic acid. This acid is used for the fabrication of Tamiflu, a medicament for the treatment of influenza.
Strong antibacterial & antimicrobial activity
Crithmum Maritimum essential oils had strong antibacterial action against a large panel of human pathogenic bacteria. Meot-Duros et al. (2008) showed that Crithmum maritimum, apolar fraction had strong antimicrobial activity against Micrococcus luteus, Salmonella arizonae, Erwinia carotovora, Pseudomonas, P. aeruginosa, P. marginalis, Bacillus cereus and Candida albicans with minimum inhibitory concentration values ranging from 1 to 100 µg ml.
Falcarindiol is an antibacterial and cytotoxic compound with multiple biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet-aggregatory and antimutagenic properties. Crithmum maritimum leaf extracts led to the chemical isolation of falcarindiol, a polyacetylene widely distributed within the Apiaceae family.
Falcarindiol strongly inhibited the growth of Micrococcus luteus and Bacillus cereus, with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 50 µg mL.
Moreover, this compound showed cytotoxicity against IEC-6 cells (normal rat small intestine cell line) with an IC value of 20 µM after 48 h of exposition. Falcarindiol also showed antinociceptive activities in the retrograde injection test of bradykinin into a carotid artery of rats (Dembitsky, 2006).
Considering the potential health benefits of falcarindiol, the results of these investigations suggest that C. maritimum could be used in food manufactures and cosmetology as preservative agents, and biopesticides, or in medicine as new antibiotics.