Sunday, June 7, 2009


Abelmoschus esculentus


Synonym Hibiscus esculentus Linn.

Family Malvaceae.

Habitat Native to tropical Africa;

cultivated throughout India, up to

, m.

English Gumbo, Lady Finger, Okra.

Ayurvedic Bhaandi, Bhindaka,


Unani Baamiyaa.

Siddha/Tamil Vendai.

Folk Bhindi, Raamturai.

Action Immature pods (decoction)—

emollient, demulcent and

diuretic (in catarrhal affections,

ardor urine, dysuria, dysentery).


Fatty fraction of the fresh watery extract

of the seeds causes destruction

of cancerous cell growth in vitro. The

pods are reported to exhibit antitumour

activity. An ethanolic extract

of pods was effective against Grampositive


The ripe fruits contain quercetin,

hyperin (hyperoside), hydrolysate of

precipitated mucilage, proanthocyanidins,

D-glucose, D-glucuronic and

galacturonic acids.

Fresh flowers contain flavonol glycosides

and anthocyanins.

Abies pindrow Royle.

Synonym A. pindrow Spach.

A. webbiana Lindl. var. pindrow


Pinus pindrow Royle.

Family Pinaceae.

Habitat Kashmir, Himachal

Pradesh, Tehri-Garhwal and other

areas of northern India, at altitudes

of ,–, m.

English Pindrow-Fir, Silver-Fir, The

West-Himalayan Low-Level Fir.

Ayurvedic Taalisha (related sp.).

Folk Badar, Morinda, Raisalla,


Action Uses similar to those of A.


Terpenoids, flavonoids, glycosides

and steroids of the leaf were found

to have mast cell stabilizing action in

rats. Terpenoids and flavonoids offered

bronchoprotection against histamine

challenge in guinea pigs. The

ulcer protective action of petroleum

ether, benzene and chloroform fraction

has been attributed to steroidal

contents. Terephthalic acid demethyl

ester (TADE), isolated from the leaf,

exhibited protection against inflammation

and bronchospasmin guinea pigs.

Ethanolic extract of leaves showed significant

anxiolytic effects on all the

paradigms of anxiety, barbiturate hypnosis


Pindrolactone, a lanostane-based

triterpene lactone, isolated from the


2 Abies webbiana Lindl.

leaves, showed mild activity against

Gram-positive bacteria but exhibited

potent antibacterial activity against

Gram-negative bacteria E. coli.

Abies webbiana Lindl.

Synonym A. spectabilis (D. Don)


Pinus webbiana Wall.

Family Pinaceae.

Habitat The Himalayas from

Kashmir to Assam at altitudes of

,–, m.

English Indian Silver Fir, The

West-Himalayan High-Level Fir,

The East-Himalayan Fir.

Ayurvedic Taalisa, Taalisapatra,

Taalisha, Patraadhya, Dhaatriparni,


Unani Taalisapattar.

Siddha/Tamil Taalispatri.

Folk Badar, Chilrow, Morinda,

Raisalla, Taalispatra. (Tallispatra,

Taalispatri and Talespattre are

also equated with the leaves of

Cinnamomum tamala Nees.)

Action Expectorant, bronchial sedative,

decongestant, anticatarrhal,

antiseptic, carminative.

Key application Fir (Abies alba

Miller) needle oil—in catarrhal illness

of upper and lower respiratory

tract (internally and externally);

externally in rheumatic and neuralgic

pains. Contraindicated in

bronchial asthma and whooping

cough. (German Commission E.)

A biflavonoid, abiesin, n-triacontanol,

beta-sitosterol and betuloside are

present in the leaves.

The essential oil from leaves contains

alpha-pinene, l-limonene, deltacarene,

dipentene, l-bornyl acetate and

l-cardinene as major constituents.

Dosage Needles—– g powder.

(API Vol. IV.)

Abroma augusta Jacq.

Synonym Ambroma augusta

Linn. f.

Family Sterculiaceae.

Habitat Throughout the hotter and

moister parts of India, from Punjab

and Uttar Pradesh, eastwards

to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam,

Meghalaya and Tripura, ascending

to ,m, southwards in Peninsular


English Perennial Indian Hemp,

Devil's Cotton.

Ayurvedic Pishaacha Kaarpaasa,


Unani Ulat-kambal.

Siddha/Tamil Sivapputtuti.

Folk Kumal, Sanukapaasi.

Action Rootbark—emmenagogue

(used for dysmenorrhoea,

amenorrhoea), abortifacient, galactotrophic.

The root contains abromine (betaine),

friedelin, abromasterol, abromasterol

A, choline, beta-sitosterol,

stigmasterol and octacosanol. Leaves,

reported to be useful in treating uterine


Abutilon indicum Linn. Sweet. 3

disorders, contain taraxerol, its acetate

and lupeol.

Dosage Leaf juice—– ml.

Rootbark powder—– g. (CCRAS.)

Abrus precatorius Linn.

Family Papilionaceae; Fabaceae.

Habitat Throughout the country,

ascending to an altitude of about

, m in the outer Himalayas.

English Indian Wild Liquorice,

Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Precatory


Ayurvedic Gunjaa, Gunjaka,

Chirihintikaa, Raktikaa, Chirmiti,

Kakanti, Kabjaka, Tiktikaa,

Kaakananti, Kaakchinchi. (Not to

be used as a substitute for liquorice.)

Unani Ghunghchi, Ghamchi.

Siddha/Tamil Kunri.

Folk Chirmiti, Ratti.

Action Uterine stimulant, abortifacient,

toxic. Seeds—teratogenic. A

paste of seeds is applied on vitiligo


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India has indicated the use of seeds

in baldness.

Seeds contain abrin, a toxalbumin,

indole derivatives, anthocyanins, sterols,

terpenes. Abrin causes agglutination

of erythrocytes, haemolysis and

enlargement of lymph glands. A nontoxic

dose of abrin (. mcg/kg body

weight), isolated from the seeds of red

var., exhibited a noticeable increase in

antibody-forming cells, bone marrow

cellularity and alpha-esterase-positive

bone marrow cells.

Oral administration of agglutinins,

isolated from the seeds, is useful in the

treatment of hepatitis and AIDS.

Theseed extract exhibited antischistosomal

activity in male hamsters.

The methanolic extract of seeds inhibited

themotility of human spermatozoa.

The roots contain precol, abrol, glycyrrhizin

(.%) and alkaloids—abrasine

and precasine. The roots also contain

triterpenoids—abruslactone A,

methyl abrusgenate and abrusgenic


Alkaloids/bases present in the roots

are also present in leaves and stems.

A. fruticulosus Wall. Ex Wight and

Arn. synonym A. pulchellus Wall., A.

laevigatus E. May. (Shveta Gunjaa) is

also used for the same medicinal purposes

as A. precatorius.

Dosage Detoxified seed—– g

powder. Root powder—– g. (API

Vols. I, II.)

Abutilon indicum Linn. Sweet.

Synonym A. indicum G. Don.

Family Malvaceae.

Habitat Throughout the hotter

parts of India. Found as a weed in

the sub-Himalayan tract and other

hills up to , m.

English CountryMallow, Flowering

Maples, Chinese Bell-flowers.

Ayurvedic Atibalaa, Kankatikaa,



4 Acacia arabica Willd. var. indica Benth.

Unani Kanghi, Musht-ul-Ghaul,


Siddha/Tamil Thutthi.

Folk Kanghi, Kakahi, Kakahiyaa.

Action Dried, whole plant—

febrifuge, anthelmintic, demulcent,

diuretic, anti-inflammatory (in

urinary and uterine discharges,

piles, lumbago). Juice of the plant—

emollient. Seeds—demulcent

(used in cough, chronic cystitis),

laxative. Leaves—cooked and

eaten for bleeding piles. Flowers—

antibacterial, anti-inflammatory.

Bark—astringent, diuretic. Root—

nervine tonic, given in paralysis;

also prescribed in strangury.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the root in

gout, polyuria and haemorrhagic diseases.

The plant contains mucilage, tannins,

asparagines, gallic acid and sesquiterpenes.

Presence of alkaloids,

leucoanthocyanins, flavonoids, sterols,

triterpenoids, saponins and cardiac

glycosides is also reported.

Asparagine is diuretic. Gallic acid

is analgesic. Mucilages act by reflex,

loosen cough as well as bronchial tension.

Essential oil—antibacterial, antifungal.

The drug exhibits immunological

activity. It augments antibody in

animals. EtOH (%) extract of A.

indicum ssp. guineense Borssum, synonym

A. asiaticum (Linn.) Sweet, exhibits

anticancer activity.

Related sp. include: Abutilon avicennae

Gaertn., synonym A. theophrastii

Medic.; A. fruticosum Guill. et al.;

A. hirtum (Lam.) Sweet, synonym A.

graveolens Wt. and Arn.; A. muticum

Sweet, synonymA. glaucumSweet; and

A. polyandrum Wight and Arn., synonym

A. persicum (Burm. f.) Merrill

(known as Naani-khapaat, Jhinakikhapaat,

Kanghi, Makhamali-khapaat

and Khaajavani-khapaat, respectively,

in folk medicine).

Dosage Root—– g powder. (API

Vol I.)

Acacia arabica Willd. var.

indica Benth.

Synonym A. nilotica (Linn.) Delile

subsp. indica (Benth.) Brenan.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Throughout the drier parts

of India.

English Babul, Black Babul, Indian

Gum arabic tree.

Ayurvedic Babbuula, Babbuuri,

Baavari, Aabhaa, Shuulikaa,

Shitaka, Kinkiraata, Yugmakantaka,

Sukshmapatra, Pitapushpaka.

Unani Aqaaqia, Babuul, Kikar,

Mughilaan, Samur.

Siddha/Tamil Karu-velamaram,

Karuvelei. Velampisin (gum).

Action Stembark—astringent,

spasmolytic, hypoglycaemic.

Gum—demulcent (soothing agent

for inflammatory conditions of the

respiratory, digestive and urinary

tracts). Pods—used in urogenital

disorders. Seeds—hypoglycaemic

in normal rats; no such effect in


Acacia catechu (Linn. f.)Willd. 5

diabetic rats. Seed oil—antifungal.

Flowers, pods and gum resin—used

in diarrhoea and dysentery.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of stembark

in acute diarrhoea and helminthiasis.

Tannin contents of the bark varies

considerably (–%). Several polyphenolic

compounds have been reported

in the bark, also in the pods.

The whole pod contains –% tannins

and –% after the removal of


Theseeds of A. benthamii, A. nilotica

ssp. subulata, probably same as ssp. indica,

are considered hypoglycaemic.

Some seed components stimulate insulin

secretion by beta cells.

The gum contains galactose; l-arabinose,

l-rhamnose and aldobiouronic

acids, also arabinobioses.

The flowers contain flavonoids—

kaempferol--glucoside, iso-quercitrin

and leucocyanidin.

Dosage Stembark—– g for

decoction. (API Vol. I.)

Acacia canescens Grab.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Bihar and South India.

Ayurvedic Aadaari (related sp.)

Folk Ari, Araara.

Action See A. torta.

Acacia catechu (Linn. f.)Willd.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Drier regions of India,

particularly Punjab, Madhya

Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,

Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and


English Cutch tree, Catechu.

Ayurvedic Khadira, Kadara,

Somavalka, Gaayatri, Dantdhaavan,

Kantaki, Raktasaara (heartwood


Unani Khair, Kaat, Katthaa

(heartwood extract).

Siddha/Tamil Karunkaali

(bark), Kalippakku, Kadiram.

Katthakkaambu, Kaasukkatti

(heartwood extract).

Action Cutch from wood—

powerful astringent (in urinary and

vaginal discharge), antidiarrhoeal,

haemostatic; used for treating

excessive mucous discharges,

haemorrhages, relaxed conditions

of gums, throat and mouth,

stomatitis, irritable bowel; also used

as an antileprotic drug.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of dried pieces

of heartwood in inflammations, skin

diseases and urinary disorders, recommends

its use as a blood purifier, in

diseases caused by lipid disorders.

Cutch (the concentrated extract)

contains tannins –%, catechin –

%, phlobatannins including catechutannic

acid –%; flavonoids including

quercetin, quercitrin, fisetin;

gums, resins, pigments. The gum from

A. catechu is a good substitute for Gum



6 Acacia chundra Willd.

Seed extract—hypoglycaemic to

normal albino rats, but not effective

in diabetic rats. The saline extract of

seeds shows leuco-agglutinating activity

against leukaemic cells. It agglutinates

white cells from patients with

different types of leukaemia. The activity

is inhibited by simple sugars. Root

extract shows antibacterial and fungicidal


The heartwood contains a hepatoprotective


Astringent and antibacterial properties

of catechu result from its high

tannin content.

Gambrine in pale catechu shows hypotensive


Fisetin in black catechu and (+)-

catechin in black and pale catechu

may protect against liver damage; (+)-

catechin is also thought to protect

against experimentally induced ulcers

in animals; (+)-catechin (cianidanol) is

associated with fatal anaemia. Methylcatechin,

one of the major metabolites

of (+)-catechin, inhibits the binding

of monocytes to vascular endothelial

cells; thus, the catechin found in catechumay

reduce atherosclerosis. (NaturalMedicines



Dosage Heartwood—– g for

decoction. (API Vol. I.)

Acacia chundra Willd.

Synonym A. sundra DC.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Rajasthan, Gujarat,

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and

Andhra Pradesh on dry and rocky


English Red Cutch.

Ayurvedic Khadira (related sp.).

Siddha/Tamil Katthakkaambu

(heartwood extract).

Folk Laal Khair.

Action Uses similar to those of A.

catechu heartwood extract.

The bark and leaves are used for ulcerated

abscesses and toothache; wood

for leucoderma.

EtOH (%) extract—spermicidal

and spasmolytic.

Acacia concinna (Willd.) DC.

Synonym A sinuata (Lour.) Merrill;

A. rugata (Lamk.) Ham.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Tropical jungles throughout

India, especially in the Deccan.

Ayurvedic Saptalaa, Shitalaa,

Saatalaa, Shrivalli, Kantvalli.

Unani Shikaakaai, Kharunb Nabti.

Siddha/Tamil Seekai, Sigakai.

Folk Ban-Reethaa.

Action Febrifuge, expectorant,

emetic, spasmolytic, diuretic,

antidiarrhoeal. Leaves—an infusion

is given in malarial fever. Pods and

seeds—decoction is used to remove

dandruff (known as Shikaakaai),

extensively used as a detergent. An

ointment is used for skin diseases.

Bark—extract is used in leprosy.


Acacia leucophloea Willd. 7

The bark yields a saponin which,

on hydrolysis, yields lupeol, alphaspinasterol

and acacic acid lactone.

Pods also yield saponins (.%). Sugars

identified are glucose, arabinose

and rhamnose.

The leaves contain alkaloids, nicotine

and colycotomine, a triterpenoid

saponin and oxalic, tartaric, citric, succinic

and ascorbic acids.

The bark saponins are spermicidal,

also haemolytic and spasmolytic. Adecoction

of pods relieves biliousness and

acts as a purgative.

Acacia farnesiana (L.)Willd.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Native to West Indies; now

occurring throughout India.

English Cassie Flower, Cassie

Absolute, Sweet Acacia.

Ayurvedic Arimeda, Vitkhadira.

Unani Vilaayati Kikar, Gandbabuul,

Guyaa Babuul, Durgandh Khair.

Siddha/Tamil Kastuurivel, Veddayala.

Action Bark—astringent, demulcent,

anthelmintic, antidysenteric,

anti-inflammatory (used in stomatitis,

ulcers, swollen gums, dental

caries, bronchitis, skin diseases).

Ripe pods contain tannins and several

polyphenolic compounds. Essential

oil from pods—directmuscle relaxant,

cardiac depressant and sedative.

Various plant parts are used in insanity,

epilepsy, delirium and convulsions.

Theethanolic extract of unripe pods

yields a glycosidal fraction (.%)

which exhibits anti-inflammatory activity.

It also shows significant antibacterial


The plant acts as an antiseptic agent

for curing sores, gums and loose teeth.

The flowers are the source of Cassie


The main constituents of the flowers

are benzyl, anisic, decylic and cuminic

aldehydes, as well as traces of geraniol,

farnesol and linalool.

Acacia leucophloea Willd.

Synonym A. alba Willd.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Dry regions of the country,

especially in Punjab, Rajasthan and

Madhya Pradesh.

English White Babul.

Ayurvedic Arimeda, Arimedaka,

Arimanja, Irimeda, Vitakhadir,

Godhaa-skandha, Raamaka.

Unani Kath Safed, Vilaayati Babuul,

Guyaa Babuul.

Siddha/Tamil Valval, Velvayalam.

Folk Safed Babuul, Safed Kikar,


Action Bark—bitter, demulcent and

cooling; used in biliousness and

bronchitis. Seeds—haemagglutinating

activity has been reported.

Leaves—antisyphilitic and antibacterial.


EtOH(%) extract of aerial parts—

hypotensive and central nervous system



8 Acacia pennata (L.)Willd.

The rootbark contains leucophleol,

leucophleoxol and leucoxol.

Acacia pennata (L.)Willd.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Throughout India; ascending

to , m in the Himalayas.

Ayurvedic Lataakhadira, Aadaari,


Siddha/Tamil Indan, Indu. Iyak

Koluntu (tender leaves).

Folk Aila.

Action Bark—antibilious, antiasthmatic.

Leaf—stomachic, styptic

(for bleeding gum), antiseptic (for

scalding of urine). A decoction of

young leaves is taken for body pain,

headache and fever.

The bark contains tannin %, lupeol

and alpha-spinasterol. Stem yields


Acacia senegal Willd.

Synonym A. verek Guillem and


Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Native to Sudan. Cultivated

in dry parts of western India.

English Gum arabic tree.

Ayurvedic Shveta Babbuula.

Action The tree yields the true Gum

arabic of commerce. Mucilaginous,

demulcent, emulsifying agent. Used

as an ingredient in compounds for

treatment of diarrhoea, catarrh.

Bechic, antihaemorrhagic, antiinflammatory.


spasmolytic. Root—

used for dysentery and urinary


The gum consists mainly of arabin.

It is the salt of an organic acid, arabic

acid, with metals such as calcium,

magnesium and potassium.

The stembark gives octacosanol,

beta-amyrin, uvaol, beta-stosterol and

its glucoside and erthrodiol. An alkaloid,

dimethyltryptamine has been

isolated from the leaves.

Acacia suma Buch.-Ham.

Synonym A. polycanthaWilld.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat WestBengal, Bihar, western


Ayurvedic Shveta Khadira, Kadara,


Unani Khor, Safed Khair.

Action Cutch is prepared from the

heartwood. See A. catechu.

Acacia ferruginea DC. is also equated

with Shveta Khadira.

Acacia torta (Roxb.) Craib.

Synonym A. intsia Willd.

A. caesia Wright and Arn. non-


Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Throughout India in the dry

and intermediate zones; ascending

to an altitude of about , m in

the Himalayas.


Acanthospermum hispidum DC. 9

Ayurvedic Aadaari, Lataa Khadira

(related sp., see. A. pennata).

Siddha/Tamil Kariyundu, Ingu.

Folk Araar, Chilar (Punjab), Aila


Action Flower—emmenagogue.

Bark—anti-inflammatory, antiseptic

(in skin diseases). Bark contains

% tannins, triterpene alcohol,

saponins of acacic acid, lupeol and

a steroid, acaciol. An alkaloid,

tryptamine, is present in the root

and stem bark.

Various plant parts are used in

cough, bronchitis, measles, tubercular

fistula and in the treatment of menstrual

disorders. The bark is used for

washing the hair.

Acalypha ciliata Forsk.

Family Euphorbiaceae.

Habitat Common in plains,

as a weed in gardens; also in

wastelands, especially in Bangalore

and Pachmarhi.

Ayurvedic Kuppi (smaller var.).

Folk Daadari (Gujarat).

Action See A. indica.

Acalypha fruticosa Forsk.

Family Euphorbiaceae.

Habitat Orissa, Tamil Nadu,

Karnataka and Kerala.

English Birch-leaved Acalypha.

Siddha/Tamil Kuppaimeni.

Folk Chinnivara.

Action Leaves—stomachic, alterative;

prescribed in digestive

disorders, dyspepsia, colic, diarrhoea.

Acalypha indica Linn.

Family Euphorbiaceae.

Habitat Occurs throughout the

plains of India, ascending the hills

in Orissa up to  m.

English Indian Acalypha.

Ayurvedic Kuppi, Muktavarchaa,


Siddha/Tamil Kuppaimeni.

Folk Khokli, Kuppi, Aamaabhaaji.

Action Antibacterial (leaf used in

scabies). Plant—emetic, expectorant

(used in bronchitis, asthma,

pneumonia). Tincture of fresh

plant is used in homoeopathy

for incipient phthisis with bloody

expectorations, emaciation and

arterial haemorrhage.

The plant contains kaempferol;

leaves and twigs contain acalyphamide

and other amides, quinone, sterols,

cyanogenic glycoside.

The herb causes intestinal irritation.

Acanthospermum hispidum


Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat Native to Brazil; found as

a weed throughout the greater part

of India.


10 Acanthus ilicifolius Linn.

Ayurvedic Trikantaka. (Different

from Gokshura; also equated with

Martynia diandra, Martineacea,

known as Kaakanaasaa.)

Action Used in dermatological


Theessential oil (yield .%) showed

antibacterial and antifungal activity.

Acanthus ilicifolius Linn.

Family Acanthaceae.

Habitat Common in tidal forests

along the East and West coasts; also

distributed in Meghalaya and the


English Sea Holly.

Ayurvedic Krishna Saraiyaka.

(Blue-flowered Katasaraiyaa.)

Siddha/Tamil Kollimulli.

Folk Hargozaa.

Action Decoction—antacid (used

in dyspepsia with acid eructations),

also diuretic (used in dropsy and

bilious swellings). Aerial parts show

effect on nictitating membrane.

The root is a cordial attenuant and

is used in debility associated with

asthma, paralysis, leucorrhoea.

The air-dried plant contains an alkaloid,

acanthicifoline, and a flavone.

Achillea millefolium Linn.

Synonym A. lanulosa Nutt.

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat The western Himalayas

from Kashmir to Kumaon.

English Milfoil, Yarrow, Thousand


Unani Biranjaasif. National

Formulary of Unani Medicine

also equates Leonurus cardica

Linn. (Labiatae) with Biranjaasif.

Folk Gandana, Rojmari.

Action Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic

(used in cold, flatulent

colic, heartburn), emmenagogue,

cicatrizant, antidysenteric, antihaemorrhagic,

antipyretic, diaphoretic,

diuretic, urinary antiseptic.

Key application In dyspeptic

ailments, such as mild, spastic

discomforts of the gastrointestinal

tract. As astringent, antispasmodic,

choleretic, antibacterial. (German

Commission E.)As diaphoretic. (The

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.) Internally

for feverish conditions,

common cold and digestive complaints;

topically for slow-healing

wounds and skin inflammations.

(The British Herbal Compendium.)

The plant contains flavonoids, alkaloids

(achilleine), polyacetylenes,

triterpenes, coumarins, tannins, salicylic

acid, a volatile oil containing

linalool, camphor, sabinene, chamazulene

and other azulenes.

Sesquiterpene lactones are bitter and

tonic. Achilleine helps arrest internal

and external bleeding. Flavonoids contribute

to the antispasmodic action.

The flavonoid apigenin is anti-inflammatory,

antiplatelet and spasmolytic.

Alkaloids and bases are antiinflammatory.

Alkaloid betoncine is


Achyranthes aspera Linn. 11

haemostatic. Salicylic acid is antiinflammatory.

Chamazulene is antiinflammatory

and antiallergenic. (Natural

Medicines Comprehensive Database,


An extract of the plant was found

to be rich in luteolin or luteolin -

glucoside and can be used for the treatment

of hyperpigmentation of skin.

Achras zapota Linn.

Synonym Manilkara zapota (Linn.)

P. van Royan

Manilkara achras (Mill.) Fosberg

Sapota achras Mill.

Family Sapotaceae.

Habitat Native to Central America.

Cultivated chiefly in Maharashtra,

Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

English Sapota, Sapodilla Plum,


Unani Sapotaa, Cheeku.

Siddha/Tamil Shimai eluppai.

Action Fruit—antibilious. Seed—

diuretic. Fruit and bark—febrifuge.

The bark contains latex (–%

of which consists of gutta-percha-like

substance); also contains tannin

(.%). The seeds contain quercitol.

Chewing gum consists of approximately

% chicle, plus sugar, corn

syrup and flavourings.

Achyranthes aspera Linn.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Throughout the tropical

and subtropical regions, up to an

altitude of , m, in the southern

Andaman Islands.

English Prickly Chaff Flower.

Ayurvedic Apaamaarga, Chirchitaa,

Shikhari, Shaikharika, Adahshalya,

Mayura, Mayuraka, Kharamanjari,

Kharapushpaa, Pratyakpushpaa,

Aaghaat, Vashira, Kanihi.

Unani Chirchitaa.

Siddha/Tamil Naayuruvi.

Folk Chirchitta, Chichidaa,


Action Astringent, pectoral (ashes

of the plant used in asthma and

cough), diuretic, hepatoprotective,

emmenagogue. Benzene extract of

the plant exhibited abortifacient

activity. The flowers, ground and

mixed with sugar, are given for

menorrhagia. Roots—astringent,

haemostatic. Seeds—emetic; used

for biliousness. Essential oil—


Key application As astringent,

emetic. (Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the whole

plant in lipid disorders and obesity, the

root for its blood-purifying property.

The plant juice and ash are used

for treating bleeding piles. An alkaline

powder of the plant is used in

preparing Kshaarasutra of Ayurvedic

medicine, which is recommended for

treating fistula-in-ano.

The whole plant contains the alkaloids

achyranthine and betaine. Achyranthine,

a water-soluble alkaloid, is


12 Achyranthes bidentata Blume

reported to dilate blood vessels, lower

blood pressure, decrease heart rate

and increase the rate and amplitude of

respiration. It also shows spasmodic

effects on the rectus muscle of frog, diuretic

and purgative action in albino


The presence of ecdysterone and

oleanolic acid is also reported in the


The ashes of the plant yield large

quantities of potash. The seeds yield

saponins and oleanolic acid and its ester.

The presence of tannins and glycosides

is also reported in the plant.

Dosage Whole plant—– g for

decoction. Root—– g. (API

Vols. II, III.) Ash— mg to  g.


Achyranthes bidentata Blume

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat The temperate and subtropical

Himalayas from Kishtwar

to Sikkim at ,–, m, Khasi


Ayurvedic Shveta Apaamaarga.

(Rakta Apaamaarga is equated

with Achyranthes rubra-fusca

Hook. f. and A. verschaffeltii Lam.,

synonym Iresine herbstii Hook. f.)

Siddha/Tamil Naayurivi.

Action Astringent, diuretic,

spasmolytic. Plant is given

in whooping cough, roots in


A water-soluble oligosaccharide,

composed of six glucose units and

threemannose units, has been isolated

from the roots. It enhanced immune

response and prolonged survival time

of mice bearing Ehrlich carcinoma.

The roots contain free oleanolic acid

(.%) and its saponins (.%). An

alcoholic extract of the root showed

presence of amino acids, steroids, triterpenoids,

alkaloids and coumarins.

The seeds afforded achyranthin.

Extract of the plant—antimicrobial.

Aconitum atrox

(Bruchl) Mukherjee.

Synonym Aconitum balfourii Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The sub-alpine and alpine

Himalayas between , and

, m.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Folk Banwaa.

Action Poisonous, highly toxic.

Air-dried roots contain .% total

alkaloids of which pseudoaconitine is

.%. Pseudoaconitine is biologically

. times as active as aconitine. (A.

atrox is a poisonous species and is one

of the common constituents of Aconitum

ferox of commerce.)

Aconitum chasmanthum

Stapf ex Holmes.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The western Himalayas

from Hazara to Kashmir and


Aconitum falconeri Stapf. 13

Chamba in Himachal Pradesh,

between altitudes of , m and

, m.

English Indian Napellus.

Ayurvedic Visha, Shringika-Visha,

Vatsanaabha (related sp.).

Folk Mohri, Meethaa Zahar.

Action Sedative, antirheumatic,

analgesic, antitussive, antidiarrhoeal.

Ayurvedic Formulary of

India, Part I and Part II, equated

A. chasmanthum with Vatsanaabha.

(See A. ferox.) It has the same uses

as A. ferox. The alkaloid content

of the root ranges from . to

.%; includes chasmaconitine and


Napellus, equated with Aconitum

napellus Linn., is indigenous to Central

Europe (named after the Black sea

port Aconis and known as Wolfsbane,

Monkshood). Aconitum of homoeopathic

medicine is an alkaloid obtained

from the roots and stems of A. nepellus.

Used as an analgesic and sedative. It

contains terpenoids up to .%, including

aconitine and aconine.

Toxic constituents of A. napellus

are aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine,

-acetylacoitine, lappaconitine

(diterpenoid-ester alkaloids), benzaconine,


Aconitine, mesaconitine and hypaconitine

exert widespread effects on

cardiac, neural and muscle tissue by

activitating sodium channels. (NaturalMedicines



Aconitine is absorbed through mucus

membranes and the skin. (Francis

Brinker.) It is a cardiotoxin and

interacts with antiarrhythmics, antihypertensives,

Digoxin/cardiac glycosides.

(Sharon M. Herr.)

Dosage Root—– mg powder.


Aconitum deinorrhizum Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat Alpine regions of Chattadhar

and Bhalesh ranges of

Bhadarwah district in Jammu and


Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Folk Bashahr-Mohra, Dudhiyaa

Bish, Safed Bikh.

Action Roots and leaves are used in

rheumatism, rheumatic fever and

acute headache.

The roots contain .% total alkaloids,

of which .% is pseudoaconitine.

Aconitum falconeri Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The sub-alpine and alpine

zones of the Garhwal Himalayas.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Folk Bikh, Bis, Meethaa Telia.

Action Sedative, carminative,

anti-inflammatory (used for the

treatment of nervous system,

digestive system; rheumatism,



14 Aconitum ferox Wall. ex Ser.

The root alkaloids contain bishatisine,

bishaconitine, falconitine and

mithaconitine. Treatment with cow's

milk reduces cardiotoxic effect of the


Aconitum ferox Wall. ex Ser.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The alpine Himalayas from

Sikkim to Garhwal and Assam.

English Indian Aconite, Wolfsbane,


Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha, Visha,

Amrita, Vajraanga, Sthaavaravisha,

Vatsanaagaka, Shrangikavisha,


Unani Bish, Bishnaag.

Siddha/Tamil Vasanaavi, Karunaabhi.

Folk Bacchanaag, Bish, Mithaa

Zahar, Telia Visha.

Action Narcotic, sedative, antileprotic,

anti-inflammatory. Extremely

poisonous. (Roots possess depressant

activity, but after mitigation in

cow's milk for – days, they exhibit

stimulant activity.)

Key application In neuralgia.

(Aconitum napellus L. has been

listed by German Commission E

among unapproved herbs.)

The root contains diterpenoid alkaloids,

which act as a powerful poison

that affects the heart and central nervous

system. Aconitine has a shortlived

cardiotonic action followed by

cardiac depression. Topically, aconitine

has analgesic, anti-inflammatory

and anaesthetic activity.

Aconitum heterophyllum

Wall. ex Royle.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat Cultivated at Manali and

Rahla in Himachal Pradesh. Also

found in northwestern Himalayas

at altitudes ranging from , to

, m.

English Atis Root, Aconite.

Ayurvedic Ativishaa, Arunaa,

Vishaa, Shuklakandaa, Bhanguraa,

Ghunapriyaa, Ghunavallabhaa,

Kaashmiraa, Shishubhaishajyaa

(indicating its use in paediatrics),


Unani Atees.

Siddha/Tamil Athividayam.

Folk Patis.

Action Often regarded as nonpoisosnous,

antiperiodic, antiinflammatory,

astringent (used

in cough, diarrhoea, dyspepsia),

tonic (used after fevers), febrifuge,

antispasmodic (used in irritability

of stomach and abdominal


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the dried,

tuberous root in emesis and helminthiasis.

The roots yield .% of total alkaloids,

of which atisin is .%. Atisine

is much less toxic than aconitine and


Aconitum violaceum Jacq. ex Stapf. 15

pseudoaconitine. (The inert character

of the plant is well known to the hill

people, who often use it as a vegetable.)

The plant possesses potent immunostimulant


Dosage Root—.–. g. (API

Vol. I.)

Aconitum laciniatum

(Bruhl) Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The sub-alpine and alpine

Himalayas of Sikkim between

altitudes of , m and , m.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Folk Kaalo Bikhmo.

Action Poisonous. (Found mixed

with the roots of A. ferox and

A. spicatum of commerce.)

Aconitum luridum

Hook. f. andThoms.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat TheHimalayas fromeastern

Nepal to Chumbi at altitudes of

, to , m.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Action As potent as Aconitum ferox.

Aconitum palmatum D. Don.

Synonym A. bisma (Buch.-Ham.)


Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The alpine Himalayas of

Sikkim, Nepal, the adjoining parts

of southern Tibet, between altitudes

of , m and , m.

Ayurvedic Prativishaa, Shyaamkandaa,


Folk Bikhamaa.

Action Root—antiemetic, antidiarrhoeal,

antirheumatic, antiperiodic.

The root contains diterpenoid alkaloids

and a nitrogenous non-alkaloid

compound, benzamide. Alkaloids include

vakognavine, palmatisine, vakatisine,

vakatisinine and vakatidine.

The root is intensely bitter, like quinine,

is used with Piper longum for diarrhoea

and vomiting; used externally

as an application for rheumatism.

Aconitum spicatum Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat The alpine zone of the

Himalayas of Sikkim and Chumbi.

Principal source of Bikh or Bish of

Kolkata market.

English Nepal Aconite.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Action Antipyretic, analgesic.

The roots yield .% of alkaloids

which contain mainly pseudoaconitine

and bikhaconitine.

Aconitum violaceum

Jacq. ex Stapf.

Family Ranunculaceae.


16 Acorus calamus Linn.

Habitat The alpine zone of the

Himalayas from Gilgit to Kumaon.

Ayurvedic Vatsanaabha (related


Folk Tilia Kachnaag, Dudhia.

Action Nervine tonic.

Air-dried roots of the plant are reported

to contain % indaconitine.

Acorus calamus Linn.

Family Araceae.

Habitat Wild and cultivated

throughout India in damp marshy

places from to , m; common

in Manipur and Naga Hills.

English Sweet Flag, Calamus.

Ayurvedic Vachaa, Ugragandhaa,

Ugraa, Golomi, Shadgranthaa,

Shataparvaa, Tikshnagandhaa,

Kshudra-patra, Maangalyaa, Ghorbach.

Unani Waj-e-Turki, Waj.

Siddha/Tamil Vasambu.

Action Rhizome—nervine tonic,

hypotensive, tranquilizer, sedative

(with neuroleptic and antianxiety

properties), analgesic, spasmolytic,

anticonvulsant; used for bronchial

catarrh, chronic diarrhoea and


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the dried

rhizomes as a brain tonic inweakmemory,

psychoneurosis and epilepsy.

Four types of Calamus are used

in herbal medicine: type I—Acorus

calamus L. var. americanus, a diploid

American var.; type II—var. vulgaris

L. (var. calamus), a European triploid;

type III and type IV—var. augustatus

Bess. and var. versus L., subtropical


Beta-asarone is carcinogenic in animals.

Volatile oil of types II, III and

IV—major constituent is usually betaasarone

(isoasarone), up to %. Indian

calamus oil contains asarone up

to % and its beta-isomer. In type I,

beta-asarone and other phenylpropanoids

are absent. It is superior in spasmolytic

activity to the other types.

Indian practitioners mostly use A.

calamus externally. Shveta Vachaa

(Haimavati, equated with Acorus gramineus

Scoland. Ex Ait., a diploid, is

used internally. Unani physicians use

Paris polyphylla Sim. as Khuraasaani


The essential oil-free alcoholic extract

of A. calamus possesses sedative

and analgesic properties.

Alpha-asarone potentiates pentobarbital,

accounts for some, but not all,

neurodepressive activity. Beta-asarone

is reportedly hallucinogenic. (Francis


The ethanolic extract of rhizomes

show significant antisecretory and antiulcerogenic

activity; also, protective

effect against cytodestructive agents,


Dosage Rhizome—– mg

powder. (API Vol. II.)

Acorus gramineus Soland. ex Ait.

Family Araceae.


Actinodaphne hookeri Meissn. 17

Habitat Native to Japan, occasionallymet

within Sikkimat an altitude

of , m, in Khasi Hills up to

, m.

Ayurvedic Haimavati (white var. of


Action Antispasmodic (used in

abdominal colic). See A. calamus.

Actaea spicata Linn.

Synonym A. acuminata Wall. ex


Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat Native to Europe; grows in

temperate Himalayas from Hazara

to Bhutan.

English Baneberry Grapewort.

Folk Visha-phale (Kannada).

Action Root—antirheumatic,

anti-inflammatory, nerve sedative,

emetic, purgative; used in the

treatment of rheumatic fever,

lumbago, scrofula, nervous disorders,


The plant is reported to contain

trans-aconitic acid, which shows a

strong cytostatic action. Its Me ether

is active against Ehrlich's ascites tumours.

In folk medicine, roots are used in

cases of ovarian neuralgia, uterine tenderness

and sub-involution. They are

adulterant of the roots of Helleborus

niger. Berries are poisonous; used topically

for skin diseases. The toxic constituent

is protoanemonin (lactone). It

is irritant to mucous membrane.

Actiniopteris dichotoma Kuhn.

Synonym A. australis (L. f.) Link.

A. radiata (Sw.) Link.

A. dichotoma Kuhn.

Family Adiantaceae.

Habitat Throughout India, especially

common in Kumaon Hills

and the Nilgiris, below an altitude

of , m.

English Peacock's tail.

Ayurvedic Mayurshikhaa, Madhuchhadaa,

Sahastrahi, Vahrishikhaa.

Action Styptic, antibacterial,


The stems and leaves contain rutin,

a styptic active principle. Anthelmintic

activity, attributed to the fern, was not

observed in experiments on mice.

Dosage Root—– g powder.


Actinodaphne hookeri Meissn.

Synonym A. angustifolia Nees.

Family Lauraceae.

Habitat The western Ghats, Orissa

and Sikkim up to , m.

Siddha/Tamil Thali, Paratathali.

Folk Pisaa (Maharashtra).

Action Infusion of leaves—urinary

tract disinfectant, antidiabetic,


The leaves contain a very small

amount of an amorphous alkaloid.

They also contain beta-sitosterol, hentriacontanone,

hentriacontanol and


18 Adansonia digitata Linn.

quercetin--rhamnoside and hydrocarbons.

The bark gives an alkaloid, actinodaphnine.

Adansonia digitata Linn.

Family Bombacaceae.

Habitat Native to tropical Africa;

common along the west coast of


English Baobab, Monkey Bread

tree, African calabash.

Ayurvedic Sheet-phala, Ravanaamlikaa,

Gorakshi, Panchparni.

Unani Gorakh Imli.

Siddha/Tamil Papparapuli.

Folk Gorakh Imli; Gorakh


Action Cooling, refrigerant (allays

burning sensation). Leaves—

diaphoretic (used as a prophylactic

against fevers). Fruit—antidysenteric,

antiseptic, antihistaminic.

The fruit pulp is a source of vitamin

C (.–. mg/ g); dried

pulp contains calcium and vitamin B.

Furfural (.%) is obtained after distillation

of the fruit. In Africa, dried

leaves provide much of the dietary calcium.

Aqueous extract of the bark is

used for treating sickle cell anaemia.

An infusion of the leaves and flowers

is given in respiratory disorders.

(Powdered leaves prevented crisis in

asthma induced by histamine in guinea

pigs.) Dried fruit pulp also gives relief

in bronchial asthma, allergic dermatitis

and urticaria.

The roots contain a flavanone glycoside.

Adenanthera pavonina Linn.

Family Leguminosae; Mimosaceae.

Habitat The western Ghats, the

Andamans and sub-Himalayan

tract; also cultivated.

English Coral Wood, Red Wood.

Ayurvedic Rakta Kanchana, Rakta


Siddha/Tamil Anai-gundumani.

Folk Ghumchi (bigger var.).

Action Astringent and styptic

(used in diarrhoea, haemorrhage

from the stomach, haematuria),

anti-inflammatory (in rheumatic

affections, gout). Seeds—

anticephalgic; also used for the

treatment of paralysis. A decoction

is given in pulmonary affections.

The seed contains an anti-inflammatory

active principle, O-acetylethanolamine.

The leaves contain octacosanol,

dulcitol, glucosides of betasitosterol

and stigmasterol. The bark

contains sitgmasterol glucoside.

Adhatoda vasica Nees.

Synonym A. zeylanica Medic.

Justicia adhatoda Linn.

Family Acanthaceae.

Habitat Throughout India, up to an

altitude of , m.

English Malabar Nut, Vasaca.


Adiantum capillus-veneris Linn. 19

Ayurvedic Vaasaa, Vaasaka,

Vaasikaa, Simhaasya, Simhaparni,

Simhavadanaa, Vaajidanta, Vrisha,


Unani Arusaa.

Siddha/Tamil Aadaathodai.

Folk Vasaakaa.

Action Expectorant (used in

bronchial, asthmatic and pulmonary

affections), antispasmodic,


Key application As bronchodilatory,

expectorant. (Indian Herbal

Pharmacopoeia.) The Ayurvedic

Pharmacopoeia of India indicates its

use in dyspnoea.

The chief quinazoline alkaloid vasicine

is reported in all parts of the

plant, the highest being in inflorescence.

It is a bitter bronchodilator, respiratory

stimulant, hypotensive, cardiac

depressant, uterotonic and abortifacient.

An aqueous solution of vasicinone

hydrochloride, when studied

in mice and dogs, was found to potentiate

the bronchodilatory activity

of aminophylline, also that of isoprenaline.

Vasicinone exhibited smoothmuscle-

relaxant properties of airways.

Alkaloids present in the plant

showed significant protection against

allergin-induced bronchial obstruction

in guinea pigs.

The leaves are found to activate the

digestive enzyme trypsin.

An extract of the leaves showed

significant antifungal activity against


Adhatoda beddomei C.B. Clarke,

found in Kerala, is considered to be

more powerful and active than A. vasica.

Fresh leaf juice is used in haemoptysis

and menorrhagia, also as an antiasthmatic.

Jacobinia tinctoria Henl. is equated

with the red-flowered var. of Vaasaa.

Dosage Leaf—– ml juice.

Dried leaves—– g for deoction.

Root—– g powder. (API Vols. I,


Adiantum aethiopicum Linn.

Synonym A. emarginatum Bedd.

Family Adiantaceae.

Habitat North Kanara and the

Nilgiri and Palni hills at higher


Ayurvedic Hansapadi (related sp.).

Action Rhizomes—decoction

abortifacient. Astringent and

emetic. Emollient in coughs and

diseases of the chest; sudorific.

Adiantum capillus-veneris Linn.

Family Adiantaceae.

Habitat All along the Himalayas

from Kashmir to Sikkim between

altitudes of , and , m.

English American Maidenhair

Fern, VenusHair, Rock Fern.

Ayurvedic Hansaraaja, Hansapadi

(related sp.).

Unani Parsiaavashaan.

Siddha/Tamil Seruppadai.

Folk Mubaaraka.


20 Adiantum incisum Forsk.

Action Astringent, demulcent,

expectorant, antitussive, stimulant,

emmenagogue. Fonds used in

chronic catarrh (as an ingredient

of cough and bronchial medicines);

also in cold imposthumes of uterus,

hard swellings and hard tumours of

spleen, liver and other viscera.

The fern contains flavonoid glucosides,

including rutin, isoquercetin, astragalin,

kaempferol; hydroxycinnamic

acid esters; terpenoids, including


Adiantum incisum Forsk.

Synonym A. caudatum Linn.

Family Adiantaceae.

Habitat The plains and the lower

slopes of the hills in Punjab,

Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tamil

Nadu and Maharashtra.

Ayurvedic Nilakantha-shikhaa,

Mayurshikhaa, Vahrishikhaa.

Action Used in hemicrania,

cough, fever; externally in skin

diseases; used as a substitute for

A. capillus-veneris.

The fern yields adiantone, isoadiantone,

fernene, hentriacontane, hentriacontanone-

, beta-sitosterol.

Adiantum lunulatum Burm.

Synonym A. philippense Linn.

Family Adiantaceae.

Habitat Throughout the greater

part of India, up to an altitude of

, m.

English Walking Maidenhair Fern.

Black Maidenhair (A. venustum G.

Don is also known as Hansaraaja.)

Ayurvedic Hansapadi, Hansapaadi,

Raktapaadi, Kitamaataa, Tripaadikaa,

Hansaraaja; a substitute

for Taamrachuda-paadikaa.

Siddha/Tamil Seruppadai.

Folk Raajhans, Mubaaraka.

Action Febrifugal, antidysenteric,

soothing agent in erysipelas. The

rhizome is also prescribed for

strangury, atrophy, emaciation or

cachexy, muscular pain; emetic in

large doses.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the dried

whole plant in psychosis-related fear.

(It is one of the ingredients of the

classical drug Maanasamitra Vataka,

prescribed for mental disorders.)

The chemical constituents are chlorophyll-

degradation products and

higher carotenoids.

Dosage Whole plant—- g (API

Vol. III.)

Adina cordifolia

Hook. f. ex Brandis

Family Rubiaceae.

Habitat Indigenous in deciduous

forests all over India.

English Yellow Teak, Saffron Teak.

Ayurvedic Haridru, Haraduaakadamba,


Girikadamba, Dhaaraakadamba,

Pitadaaru, Kadambapushpa.


Aerva javanica (Burm. f.) Juss. ex Schult. 21

Siddha/Tamil Manjakadambu.

Folk Haladu, Kheta Kadam.

Action Antibacterial, antiseptic,

antidysenteric, antibilious (used

in biliary colic), febrifuge. Root—


The heartwood contains indole alkaloids;

bark .–.% tannin. The

leaves contain ursolic acid and quercetin.

Aegle marmelos

(L.) Correa ex Roxb.

Family Rutaceae.

Habitat The plains and submountain

regions of India, ascending

to an altitude of , m in the

western Himalayas; cultivated all

over India.

English Bael tree, Bengal Quince.

Ayurvedic Bilva, Shriphala,

Shaandilya, Shailuusha, Shalya,

Sadaaphala, Mahaakapitha (Kapitha

is equated with Feronia limonia),

Maaluura, Rudrajataa, Rudranirmaalya,


Unani Bael.

Siddha/Tamil Vilvam, Koovilam.

Action Stomachic, antimicrobial

(specific for diarrhoea, colitis,

dysentery and enteric infections),

digestive, astringent, spasmolytic,


Key application As antidiarrhoeal.

(Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

Along with other therapeutic

applications, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the

use of root in dysuria; stembark in

diabetes and lipid disorders.

A number of coumarins (including

xanthotoxol and alloimperatorin

methyl ether), flavonoids (including

rutin and marmesin), alkaloids (including

alpha-fagarine), sterols and

essential oils have been isolated from

plant parts. Pectin is an important

constituent of the fruit.

Alkaloid aegeline, present in the

leaves, is efficacious in asthma. The

active principle in aqueous extract of

leaf shows hypoglycaemic activity similar

to insulin. Leaves are also given

in jaundice. Alcoholic extract of seeds

shows antiallergic activity.

Marmin, a coumarin isolated from

the roots, shows anti-inflammatory effects

experimentally. Marmin also inhibited

gastric haemorrhagic lesions

in rats and exhibited antiulcer effects.

Seed oil showed beneficial effects in

regeneration of tumour cells.

Aurapten is found to be the most

potent inhibitor of heart rate. Rootbark

is used for palpitation of the heart.

Dosage Pulp of unripe or half

ripe fruit— g powder. Root— g

powder. (API Vols. I, III.)

Aerva javanica

(Burm. f.) Juss. ex Schult.

Synonym A. persica (Burm.f.)


A. tomentosa Frosk.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Punjab, Central and

Peninsular India.


22 Aerva lanata (L.) Juss. ex Schult.

English Javanese Wool Plant.

Siddha/Tamil Perumpoolai.

Folk Dholphuli, Khul. Paashaanabheda

(southern India).

Action Anti-inflammatory, diuretic,

anticalculus, insecticidal. Wooly

seeds are used against rheumatism.

The plant extract contains ascorbic

acid, kaempferol, beta-amyrin and

beta-sitosterol. The leaves also contain

sitosterol and its glucoside.

Aerva lanata (L.) Juss. ex Schult.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat The warmer parts of India,

ascending to , m.

Ayurvedic Paashaanabheda.

Gorakshaganjaa, Aadaanpaaki,


Siddha/Tamil Sirupeelai.

Folk Paashaanabheda (southern

India), Gorakhagaanjaa.

Action Anticalculus (used in

lithiasis), diuretic, demulcent,

anthelmintic, antidiarrhoeal,

anticholerin, bechic; leaf used

in hepatitis, root in strangury.

A decoction of the plant is used in

catarrh of bladder. The flowers and

roots are used for headache.

Key application As diuretic and

lithontriptic. (The British Herbal


The plant contains palmitic acid,

beta-sitosterol and alpha-amyrin.

Aerva scandens Wall., synonym A.

sanguinolenta Blume, is also known as

Paashaanabheda in the south.

Species used as Paashaanabheda:

Bergenia ligulata (north), Aerva lanata

(south), Coleus amboinicus (east) and

Bryophyllum pinnatum (west).

Dosage – ml decoction.


Aesculus hippocastanum Linn.

Family Hippocastanaceae; Sapindaceae.

Habitat Endemic to the mountains

of Balkan Peninsula and western

Asia. Introduced into India; occasionally

grown as an ornamental


English Horse Chestnut tree.

Unani Baloot. (Quercus incana and

Q. infectoria have also been equated

with Baloot in National Formulary

in Unani Medicine.)

Folk Pu.

Action Anti-inflammatory, vasodilator,

astringent (used for

rheumatism, venous congestion,

haemorrhoids), febrifuge. Leaf—

used in whooping cough.

Key application In chronic venous

insufficiency, varicosis, nocturnal

systremma (cramps in the calves)

and swelling of the legs. (Noninvasive

treatment measures should

also be followed.) (German

Commission E, ESCOP, The British

Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)


Aframomum melegueta (Rosc.) K. Schum. 23

Horse Chestnut contains triterpenoid

saponins (especially aescin, a

complex mixture composed of acylated

glycosides of protoaesigenin and

barringtogenol-C, including hippocaesculin),

coumarins and flavonoids.

Aescin has been shown to eliminate

oedema and reduce exudation. It antagonizes

the effect of bradykinin, although

it is not a direct bradykinin

antagonist. It causes an increase in

plasma levels of ACTH, corticosterone

and glucose in rats. Hippocaesculin

and barringtogenol-C--angelate

show antitumour activity in vitro.

The hydroxycoumarin aesculin

leads to increased bleeding time.

(Roasting seems to destroy the toxins.)

A few fruits can cause severe

toxic symptoms. (Francis Brinker.) In

some countries, an intravenous mixture

containing aescin is used after

surgery. (Natural Medicines Comprehensive

Database, .)

Aesculus indica Hook.

Family Sapindaceae; Hippocastanaceae.

Habitat The Himalayas from

Kashmir to western Nepal, Kulu

and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh,

Tehri-Garhwal and Kumaon in

Uttar Pradesh at –, m.

English Indian Horse Chestnut,

Himalayan Chestnut.

Folk Bankhor.

Action Antirheumatic, galactogenic,


The leaves contain aescin, quercetin

and beta-sitosterol. Stems also contain

rutin, astragalin, aesculin. Seeds

contain aescin, aesculusideAand B, also

aliphatic esters. Seeds possess antiinflammatory


The extract of seeds is considered

to be active against P- lymphocytic

leukaemia and human epidermoid

carcinoma of nasopharynx.

Aframomum melegueta

(Rosc.) K. Schum.

Synonym Amomum melegueta


Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat Native to tropical Africa;

cultivated in Indian gardens.

English Grains of Paradise, Alligator

pepper, Meleguetta pepper.

Unani Heel Habshi.

Action Roots possess cardamomliketasteandaregivenasadecoction

for constipation; also as a vermifuge

for tapeworms. Juice of young

leaves—styptic. The seeds contain

an alkaloid, piperine; also gingerol,

paradol, shogaol and zingerone.

Gingerol and shogaol suppress gastric

contractions; also have sedative

and analgesic actions. Pungency of the

grains is due to paradol.

A decoction of the whole plant is

taken internally as a febrifuge.

High oxalic acid content in the fruit

may cause reduced function of the


Aframomum korarima K. Schum.,

native to tropical Africa, known as


24 Aganosma dichotoma (Roth) K. Schum.

False cardamom, is also equated with

Heel Habshi.

Aganosma dichotoma

(Roth) K. Schum.

Synonym A. caryophyllata G. Don

Family Apocynaceae.

Habitat Assam,West Bengal, Bihar,

Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil

Nadu; often cultivated in Indian


Ayurvedic Madhumaalati.

Action Antiseptic; anodyne (an

ingredient in massage oils for

paraplegia, neuralgia, sciatica); also

anthelmintic and emetic.

The leaves contain quercetin, kaempferol

and phenolic acids. Shoot tips

and flower buds contain tannin.

Aganosma calycina A. DC. is also

equated with Madhumaalati.

Agaricus albus Linn.

Family Agaricaceae.

Habitat Punjab, Asia Minor.

English Purging Agaric.

Unani Gharaiqoon; also equated

with Fomes officinalis (Vill. ex Fr.)


Action Diuretic, laxative, deobstructant,

expectorant; purgative

and emetic in large doses; used in

the treatment of night sweats in

phthisis, and as a supporting drug

for asthma.

Active principle is agaric acid (agaricin),

present to the extent of –%.

Agaricus campestris Linn.

Synonym Psalliota campestris

(Linn.) Fr.

Family Agaricaceae.

Habitat The fungi is distributed in

many parts of India, particularly

on the hills and plains of northern

and eastern India. Grows during

the rainy weather on dead organic

matter, e.g. rotting leaves and


English Field mushroom, Edible


Ayurvedic Chhatraka, Bhuumichhatra.

Unani Kammat.

Siddha Venkodiveli.

Folk Khumbi.

Action A protein (.%) supplement

and an excellent source of

vitamins of B complex. Vitamins K,

C and D are also present. Though

all the amino acids are reported

to be present, the concentration of

tryptophane is particularly low.

Extracts of A. campestris contain tyrosinase;

lowered blood pressure of hypertensive

animals when administered

intravenously (exhibited no effect on

normal animals).

Fungal enzyme preparations have

been used in digestive diseases.

Field mushroom contains amylase,

maltase, glycogenase, protease, catalase,

tyrosinase, phosphomonoesterasA

Aglaia roxburghiana Miq. Hiern 25

es, polyphosphatases, polyphenoloxidase

and dehydropeptidases.

Agaricus ostreatus (Jacq.) Fries

Family Agaricaceae.

Habitat Artocarpus interifolia,

indigenous to the western Ghats.

English Oyster Mushroom (grows

on Artocarpus integrifolia).

Action Prevents excessive salivation.

Also given internally in dysentery,

diarrhoea, stomatitis; as a paste to

gums in apthae.

Agave americana Linn.

Family Agavaceae.

Habitat Native to America; grown

in gardens for ornamentation.

English Century Plant, American


Ayurvedic Kaantala (related sp.).

Siddha/Tamil Alagai.

Folk Ban-Kevaraa.

Action Leaf juice—used for

warts, cancerous ulcers and putrid

tumours. Leaves are also used as

a resolvant in syphilis and scrofula.

The leaves contain ten steroidal saponins

(six of these are spirostanolic

and four furostanolic), also hecogenin

(.%) and piscidic acid. The seeds

contain steroid sapogenins including

hecogenin. The plant exhibits significant

antibacterial activity.

Ageratum conyzoides Linn.

Family Asteraceae, Compositae.

Habitat Throughout India, up to an

altitude of , m.

English Goat Weed, WhiteWeed.

Ayurvedic Dochunty, Uchunti,

Sahadevi (related sp.).

Action Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial,

antifungal, styptic.

The leaf is reported to contain stigmasterol

(.%) and beta-sitosterol

(.%) as major component of sterol

faction. The dried flowering plant contains

the pyrrolizidine alkaloids, lycopsamine

and echinatine.

An aqueous extract of leaves is reported

to show haemostatic activity.

The plant extract exhibited muscle relaxant

activity experimentally. The

ethanolic extract (%) of roots possesses

anti-inflammatory and analgesic


The aqueous extract of leaves exhibits

antifungal and crude plant extract

antibacterial properties.

Aglaia roxburghiana Miq. Hiern

Synonym A. elaegnoidea (A. Juss.)


Milnea roxburghiana (Miq.) Wight

and Arn.

Family Meliaceae.

Habitat Western Ghats, tropical

forests in the hills of Andhra

Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and

Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Ayurvedic Priyangu (var.)


26 Agrimonia eupatoria auct non L.

Siddha/Tamil Gnaazhal. (Dried

flowers of Myristica malabarica

Lam. are also used as Priyangu.)

Action Fruit—cooling (in febrile

complaints), antipyretic, astringent,

antidiarrhoeal, antidysenteric,

anti-inflammatory (seeds used for

painful micturition). Fruits are

also used for treating obstinate skin

diseases and tumours.

Bisamide alkaloids of the leaves exhibit

anticancer activity (by inhibiting

the growth of vinblastine-resistant KB


Agrimonia eupatoria auct non L.

Synonym A. pilosa Hook.f. non


A. pilosa Ledeb. var. nepalensis (D.

Don) Nakai

Family Rosacae.

Habitat The Himalayas from

Kashmir to West Bengal at –

, m, and in Arunachal Pradesh,

Nagaland and Meghalaya.

English Agrimony, Stickle Wort.

Unani Ghaafis.

Folk Belu.

Action Astringent, antiinflammatory,

hepatic, cholagogue,

diuretic, mild haemostatic, antibacterial.

Used for irritations and

infections of the intestinal tract,

gallbladder diseases, hyperacidity,

colic, urinary disorders (bedwetting,

incontinence), sluggish

liver, mucus membrane inflammations;

externally for ulcerated

and discharging skin, psoriasis and

seborrhoic eczemas.

Key application In mild, nonspecific,

acute diarrhoea and

in inflammation of oral and

pharyngeal mucosa; as astringent.

(German Commission E, The British

Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

The herb contains condensed tannins

up to %, coumarins, flavonoids

(glucosides of luteolin, apigenin and

quercetin), polysaccharides, volatile

oil. Luteolin -glucoside shows a cholegogic

action. Aqueous extracts inhibited

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, also

strains resistant to streptomycin and

p-aminosalicylate. Essential oil is antibacterial,

active against Bacillus subtilis.

The ethanolic extracts of the herb

are used for their antiviral properties.

(Natural Medicines Comprehensive

Database, .)

Coumarins interact with anticoagulants,

and drugs that increase the risk

of bleeding Furanocoumarin content

increase photosensitivity. (Sharon M.


Agropyron repens Beauv.

Synonym Triticum repens L.

Family Gramineae; Poaceae.

Habitat The westernHimalayas and

Kashmir at altitudes between ,

and , m.

English Couch grass, dog grass,

wheat grass.

Action Demulcent (used in

cystitis, nephritis), aperient,


Ailanthus glandulosa Desf. 27

diuretic and urinary antiseptic,


Key application In irrigation

therapy for inflammatory diseases

of the urinary tract and for the

prevention of kidney gravel.

(German Commission E, The British

Herbal Pharmacopoeia.) It is

contraindicated in oedema due to

cardiac or renal insufficiency.

Thejuice of rhizomes is used for cystitis,

nephritis, scirrhous liver; decoction

for tonsils and as an adjuvant for

cancer; also used for gout and rheumatism,

and chronic skin disorders.

The rhizome contains triticin, a carbohydrate

allied to starch, a fructosan

polysaccharide, inositol, mannitol;

volatile oil up to about .%, consisting

mainly of agropyrene; vanillin

glucoside; mucilage, gum, large quantities

of silica; iron, minerals, vitamins,

K salt. Agropyrene is reported

to have broad antibiotic properties. Extracts

show uric acid solvent properties.

Agropyrene is antifungal.

Ailanthus excelsa Roxb.

Family Simaroubaceae.

Habitat Bihar, Madhya Pradesh,

Gujarat, Orissa and southern India.

English Tree of Heaven, Maharukh.

Ayurvedic Aralu, Katvanga,

Dirghavranta, Puutivrksha, Bhalluka.

(Mahaanimba is a synonym of

Melia azedarach Linn.)

Siddha Perru, Perumaruttu,


Action Bark—bitter, astringent,

febrifuge, anthelminitic, antispasmodic,

expectorant (used in asthma,

bronchitis). Also used for dysentery

as a substitute for Holarrhena


Bark andleaves—used as tonic indebility,

especially after childbirth.

Leaves—used as adulterant for Adhatoda

zeylanica leaves.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of stembark

in high fevers and giddiness.

The bark contains several quassinoids

including ailanthone derivatives.

They exhibit antitumour activity

against P- lymphocytic leukaemia

and are cytotoxic against KB test system.

Dosage Stembark—– g (API

Vol. III.) Decoction—– ml.


Ailanthus glandulosa Desf.

Synonym A. altissima (Mill.)


Family Simaroubaceae.

Habitat Native of China and Japan.

Found in the hills of northern India

up to an altitude of , m.

English Tree of Heaven, Ailanto.

Ayurvedic Aralu (related sp.).

Action Bark—astringent, antispasmodic,

parasiticidal, narcotic,

cardiac depressant (exercises powerful

depressing influence on nervous

system similar to that of tobacco).


28 Ailanthus malabarica DC.

Leaves produce dermatitis; their accumulation

in well-water produces

chronic gastritis.

Many quassinoids and ailanthone

derivatives are vermifuge and amoebicidal.

Constituents of the bark and

stem, particularly ailanthone, have antimalarial

activity in vitro against Plasmodiumfalciparumandinmice


P. berghei. (Alkaloids do not appear to

have these properties.) Some quassinoids

are antineoplastic, and are reported

to have antileukaemic properties.

The rootbark is used in traditional

Chinese medicine for dysentery and

leucorrhoea. In Africa, rootbark is

used in epilepsy.

Ailanthus malabarica DC.

Synonym A. triphysa (Dennst.)


Family Simaroubaceae.

Habitat The evergreen forests

of western Ghats from Konkan


Siddha Perumaram.

Folk Guggul-dhuupa. (Maharashtra.)

Action Bark—febrifuge, carminative

(given in typhoid, dyspepsia

and constipation). Oleo resin—

used for dysentery and bronchitis.

The bark and roots give a number

of beta-carboline alkaloids. The resinuous

exudates from trunk give several

triterpenoids, including malabaricol

and malabaricanediol.

Ainsliaea aptera DC.

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat The Himalayas from

Kashmir to Bhutan at altitudes of

, m, extending to Khasi hills of


Folk Karui Buuti (Garhwal).

Action Powdered roots—used for

quick relief from acute stomach

ache; diuretic.

A related sp., A. latifolia Sch-Bip., is

used as an adulterant to Podophyllum


Ajuga bracteosa Wall. ex Benth.

Family Labiatae Lamiaceae.

Habitat The sub-Himalayan tract,

plains of Punjab and the upper

Gangetic plain.

Ayurvedic Neelkanthi.

Folk Ratapaati (Kumaon), Khurbanti


Action Astringent, febrifugal (given

in intermittent fever), stimulant,

aperient, diuretic. Used for the

treatment of gout and rheumatism;

also for amenorrhoea. Juice of

the leaves—blood purifier. The

powder is used for burns and boils.

The leaves are used in fever as

a substitute for cinchona.

An aqueous extract of the leaves

showed diuretic activity. An alkaloidal

fraction showed stimulant action on

the perfused frog heart. The plant

exhibited anticancer activity.


Albizia amara (Roxb.) Boivin 29

Alangium begoniaefolium

(Roxb.) Baill.

Synonym A. chinense (Lour.)


Family Alangiaceae.

Habitat The plains and foothills, up

to an altitude of , m.

Ayurvedic Ankola (related sp.).

Folk Akhani.

Action Bark and roots—sedative,


A triterpenoid was responsible for

the sedative effect on motor activity of

rat brain.

Chloroform extract of the drug,

which was devoid of anabasine, exhibited

prominent sedative effect in

rat. It significantly decreased concentration

of norepinephrine in cortex,

of dopamine and serotonin (-HT) in

brain stem, but increased concentration

of -HT in cortex.

Alangium lamarckii Thw.

Synonym A. salviifolium (Linn. f.)


Family Alangiaceae.

Habitat The drier parts of India,

in plains and foothills of southern


Ayurvedic Ankola, Ankota,

Taamraphala, Guptasneha, Dirghakeelaka.

Siddha/Tamil Azinjil.

Action Rootbark—astringent,

spasmolytic, hypotensive, also diaphoretic

and antipyretic. Leaves—

hypoglycaemic. Fruits—acidic,

astringent, laxative and refrigerant.

Used in haemorrhages, strangury

and consumption. The bark is

used as a substitute for Cephaelis

ipecacuanha. It is a rich source

of alkaloids structurally related to

ipecac alkaloids (emetin).

The bark contains the alkaloid alangine

which shows a selective action of

the parasympathetic mechanism, the

action being more marked on gastrointestinal

tract. The root extract shows

hypotensive action. Flowers contain

deoxytubulosine, a potent antiplatelet

aggregation component, which has

a strong binding withDNA.

The plant extract possesses antineoplastic


Dosage Rootbark—– g powder.


Albizia amara (Roxb.) Boivin

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat Throughout southern India

in dry forests, up to  m, and in

some parts of Madhya Pradesh.

Ayurvedic Shirish (bark—grey or


Siddha/Tamil Thuringil.

Action Leaf and flower—antiinflammatory,

used for boils and

ulcers. Leaf—used for erysipelas.

Seeds—astringent, antidiarrhoeal,


Theseed extract showedDNA binding

activity, which has been found to


30 Albizia lebbeck (Linn.)Willd.

be due to pithecolibine alkaloids, budmunchiamines.


are antibacterial, and they inhibit platelet

aggregation and human lymphocyte

transformation. They also show

anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activity.

The leaves contain prodelphinidins,

myricitrin, hyperin, quercitrin, transp-

coumaric acid, cis-p-coumaric acid

and trans-ferulic acid.

The seeds contain echinocystic acid

and taxifolin--O-beta-D xylopyranosyl-


The oil fromthe seeds is said to cure

leprosy and leucoderma.

Albizia lebbeck (Linn.)Willd.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat All over India, from the

plains up to min theHimalayas;

also in the Andamans.

English Siris tree, East Indian


Ayurvedic Shirisha, Bhandi,

Bhandila, Shitapushpa, Mridupushpa,

Kapitana (bark—dusty


Unani Siras.

Siddha/Tamil Vaagei.

Action Antiseptic, antibacterial,

antiallergic, antidermatosis,

antidysenteric. Bark—used in bronchitis;

bark and seeds in piles; root

in hemicrania; flowers in cough,

bronchitis, tropical pulmonary

eosinophilia, and asthma. Pod—


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of stembark

in rhinitis, sinusitis and migraine.

Analysis of the plant revealed the

presence of flavonoids, triterpenoids

and triterpenoid saponins; oleanolic

acid, albigenic acid, albigenin and

acacic acid. The bark contains –%

condensed tannin; also d-catechin and


Aqueous extract of the bark decreased

histamine-induced bronchospasm

in guinea pigs.

Alcoholic extract of stembark contains

cardenolide glycosides of digitoxin

nature. It showed antidermatophytic

activity. Anthraquinone glycosides

and its aglycone exhibited antibacterial


A saponin from seeds exhibited

spermicidal activity in animals. EtOH

(%) extract of pods was found to

be spermicidal against rat and human

spermatozoa at % concentration.

Thetherapeutic properties of Albizia

julibrissin Durazz, Pink Siris, found in

the outer Himalayas from the Indus

eastwards to Sikkim, are the same as

those of A. lebbeck.

Dosage Stembark—– g powder.

– g for decoction. (API

Vol. III.)

Albizia procera Benth.

Family Mimosaceae.

Habitat All over India.

Ayurvedic Shveta Shirisha (bark—

white or greenish-white).


Alhagi pseudalhagi (Bieb.) Desv. 31

Action Bark—a decoction is given

in rheumatism and haemorrhage.

The bark contains beta-sitosterol

and yields –% tannins.

An oleanolic acid saponin, proceric

acid saponin mixture from seeds and

root saponin exhibit spermicidal activity.

Aleurities moluccana


Synonym A. triloba J. R. and G.


Family Euphorbiaceae.

Habitat Native to China; now

mostly grown on the tea estates of

Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh,

and also in Assam and Bengal to

provide shade for tea bushes.

English Candlenut tree.

Ayurvedic Akshota, Jangali


Siddha/Tamil Naatuakrottu.

Action Oil from seeds—purgative;

employed externally in rheumatism;

ulcers; also as a hair tonic. Leaves—

applied in acute rheumatism.

Fruit—carminative and expectorant.

Bark and flowers—used for


Aleurites fordii Hemsl., Tung Oil

tree, native to China, is also equated

with Jangali Akharot.

The tree was introduced on the tea

estates of Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Coorg

and Mysore.

Alhagi pseudalhagi (Bieb.) Desv.

Synonym A. camelorum Fisch. ex


A. maurorum Medic.

Family Papilionaceae; Fabaceae.

Habitat Thedrier parts ofRajasthan,

Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

English Camel Thorn, Persian

Manna Plant.

Ayurvedic Yavaasaka, Yavaasa,

Yaasa, Duhsparshaa, Duraalabhaa,

Kunaashak. Substitute for

Dhanvayaasa. Yaasa-sharkaraa


Unani Jawaansaa. Turanjabeen


Siddha/Tamil Punaikanjuri, Kanchori.

Action Laxative, antibilious,

diuretic, diaphoretic, expectorant.

Leaves—used for fever, headache,

rheumatism. Flowers—blood

coagulant, used for piles. Alhagimanna—

expectorant, antiemetic,


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of driedwhole

plant in gout and haemorrhagic disorders.

The aerial parts contain flavonoids,

tannins, sterols, triterpenes, saponins

and anthroquinones.

The proanthocyanidins derived

from the plant possess hypolipidemic

and antiatherosclerotic properties. The

compounds prevented an increase in

rat serumcholesterol and triglycerides,


32 Alkanna tinctoria (L.) Tausch.

and they decreased the manifestation

of atherosclerosis.

A polymeric proanthocyanidin, extracted

fromthe plant, improved energy

metabolism and increased the work

capacity in rats.

Ethanolic extract of the aerial parts

produced positive inotropic effect on

rabbit heart.

Dosage Whole plant—– g

for decoction. (API Vol. II.)

Decoction—– ml. (CCRAS.)

Alkanna tinctoria (L.) Tausch.

Family Boraginaceae.

Habitat Cultivated in Central and

southern Europe.

English Alkanet, Dyers' or Spanish


Unani Ratanjot. National Formulary

of Unani Medicine equated Ratanjot

with Onosma echioides Linn., found

in Kashmir and Kumaon.

Siddha/Tamil Ratthapaalai, Surulpattai,


Action Astringent, antimicrobial

(used for indolent ulcers, wounds,


The root contains up to % alkannins,

which are lipophilic isohexenylnaphthazarin

red pigments; tannins

and wax. A pyrrolizidine (hepatotoxic)

alkaloid has also been isolated from

the herb. The alkannins have antimicrobial

and wound-healing properties

and are non-toxic in mice. They have

been used clinically for indolent ulcers.

Allemanda cathartica Linn.

Family Apocynaceae.

Habitat Native to Central America

and Brazil. Grown in Indian


English Golden Trumpet.

Folk Zahari Sontakkaa. (Maharashtra).

Action Leaves—cathartic (in

moderate doses; emetic in large

doses). Bark—hydragogue, in


The purgative property of the aqueous

extract of leaves was confirmed

pharmacologically in rats. The extract

also showed antifungal activity against

ringworm causing fungi. Flower extract

inhibits fungal growth.

EtOH extract of roots showed invivo

activity against P- leukaemia

in mouse and in vitro against human

carcinoma cells of nasopharynx (KB).

The root contains antileukaemic iridoid

lactone, allamandin and two other

iridoids, allamandicin and allamdin.

The stems and leaves contain betaamyrin,

beta-sitosterol and ursolic

acid. Petals gave flavonoids—kaempferol

and quercetin.

Allium ascalonicum Linn.

Fam Liliaceae; Alliaceae.

Habitat Native to Palestine;

cultivated in India.

English Shellot.


Allium cepa Linn. 33

Ayurvedic Grnjana.

Unani Gandanaa, Ek-daanaa

Lehsun, Ek-potia Lehsum. (Also

equated with Asphodelus tenuifolius


Action Anticoagulant, fibrinolytic,


The aqueous extract of the bulbs

contains mainly fructose (%), besides

glucose, arabinose, galactose,

mannose, rhamnose, glucosamine and

uronic acid. It also contains lysine, glutamic

acid and aspartic acid. It shows

significant activity against P- lymphocytic

leukaemia in mice.

In experiments on rabbits, the alcoholic

extracts of the bulb showed significant

anticoagulant, fibrinolytic and

hypocholesterolaemic properties.

Allium cepa Linn.

Family Liliaceae; Alliaceae.

Habitat Cultivated as an annual

all over the country. The most

important onion-growing states are

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra

Pradesh., Karnataka and Madhya


English Onion.

Ayurvedic Palaandu, Durgandh.

Unani Piyaaz.

Siddha/Tamil Venkaayam.

Action Antibiotic, antibacterial,

antisclerotic, anticoagulant,

anti-inflammatory, antiasthmatic,

expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic,

diuretic, hypotensive,


Key application For the prevention

of atherosclerosis (German

Commission E) and age-dependent

changes in the blood vessels, and

loss of appetite (WHO).

The official onion bulb of the Pharmacopoeia

of the People's Republic of

China is a different species, Allium

macrostemon Bge., than that of the

German Commission E monographs,

A. cepa. Chinese onion is used for

cough, dyspnoea, angina pectoris and


Scallions or Spring Onion of Chinesemedicine

are equated with Allium


Onion bulbs contain a volatile oil

with sulphurous constituents, including

allylpropyldisulphide; sulphurcontaining

compounds, including allicin,

alliin; flavonoids; phenolic acids

and sterols.

Hypoglycaemic activity of the onion

is attributed to the allylpropyldisulphide

and allicin. Diphenylamine, isolated

from mature bulbs, also exhibits

potent antihyperglycaemic activity.

Alliin and allicin have an inhibitory

effect on platelet aggregation. Antibiotic

activity is due mainly to allicin.

Regular use of onion ( g/day) reduces

insulin requirement of a diabetic

patient from  to  units a day.

Thiosulphinates, isolated from onion

juice, exhibited antiasthmatic activity

in vivo.

Dosage Juice of bulb—– ml.



34 Allium macleanii Baker.

Allium macleanii Baker.

Family Liliaceae, Alliaceae.

Habitat Native to Afghanistan.

(A bulbous plant related to onion.)

English Oriental Royal Salep.

Unani Baadshaahi Saalab.

Action Anabolic and gastrointestinal


Allium porrum Linn.

Synonym A. ameloprasum

Hook. f. non Linn.

Family Liliaceae, Alliaceae.

Habitat Native to theMediterranean

region; cultivated in India.

English Leek.

Folk Vilaayati Piyaaz. Praan

(Kashmir). Seemevangayam (Tamil


Action Expectorant; used as

a substitute for garlic.

Leek is poor in volatile oil content in

comparison with garlic, but it contains

sufficient amounts of non-toxic saponins,

which perhaps give it expectorant


The bulbs contain several thiosulphinates,

and also potentially anticarcinogenic

flavonoids, quercetin and


Allium sativum Linn.

Family Liliaceae, Alliaceae.

Habitat Native to Central Asia.

Cultivated all over India.

English Garlic.

Ayurvedic Lashuna, Rasona,

Yavaneshta, Ugragandha, Mahaushadh,


Unani Seer, Lahsun.

Siddha/Tamil Ullippoondu, Vellaippondu.

Action Antibiotic, bacteriostatic,

fungicide, anthelmintic, antithrombic,

hypotensive, hypoglycaemic,

hypocholesterolaemic. Also used

for upper respiratory tract infections

and catarrhal conditions.

Key application As a supportive to

dietary measures for elevated levels

of lipids in blood; as a preventive

measure for age-dependent vascular

changes. (German Commission E,

ESCOP, WHO, The British Herbal

Pharmacopoeia.) Also as an

antimicrobial. (The British Herbal

Pharmacopoeia). Garlic has been

shown to be effective in respiratory

infections and catarrhal conditions.

(The British Herbal Compendium.)

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India

indicates the use of the bulb as

a brain tonic in epilepsy and psychic


Heavy consumption of garlic prior

to surgery led to increased clotting

time or reduced platelet aggregation

(in human case reports). Garlic tablets

at a dose of  mg twice daily for

 weeks reduced platelet aggregation

% compared with placebo in  patients

(in human clinical study). (Francis


Garlic cloves are high in sulphurcontaining

amino acids known as alliin

(no taste, no smell, no medicinal


Alocasia indica (Lour.) Spach. 35

action). With crushing or chewing alliin

comes into contact with the enzyme

alliinase. Alliinase, in less than  s,

transforms alliin into allicin (strongly

medicinal), which breaks down into

a number of sulphur compounds including

ajoene, vinyldithin and diallyl

disulfide, and trisulfide. The antibiotic

effect is attributed to allicin; hypoglycaemic

effect to allicin and allylprophyldisulphide

(also to S-allyl cysteine

sulfoxide); anticarcinogenic activity to

diallyl monosulfide; platelet aggregation

inhibitory effect to diallyl-di- and

tri-sulphides. Ajoene inactivated human

gastric lipase, which is involved

in digestion and absorption of dietary


Diallyltetra, penta-, hexa- and heptasulphides

are potential antioxidants.

AlliumleptophyllumWall. is equated

with Vana Lashuna, Jangali Lahsun.

Dosage Bulb— g (API Vol. III.)

Allium schoenoprasum Linn.

Family Liliaceae, Alliaceae.

Habitat Native to temperate

northern Europe and the U.S.;


from Kashmir to Kumaon at

altitudes of ,–, m.

English Chives.

Action Used in place of young


An alcoholic extract of the bulbs

exhibited hypotensive and cardiac depressant


The aerial parts (chives) gave alliins

(alkylcysteine sulfoxides), particularly

methyl alliin and pentylalliin.

Allium tuberosum Rottl. ex Spreng,

found in eastern India and western

Himalayas, is equated with Chinese

Chives. It is available in Meghalaya.

Alocasia indica (Lour.) Spach.

Synonym A. macrorrhiza (Linn.)

G. Don

Family Araceae.

Habitat A genus of topical Asia,

Malayasia and the Pacific. Found

wild and cultivated all over India.

English Giant Taro.

Ayurvedic Maanaka, Maana,

Maankanda, Kasaalu, Hastikarni.

Siddha/Tamil Merukan kizhangu.

Action Rootstock—mild laxative,

diuretic (in anasarca); used in

inflammations and diseases of

abdomen and spleen. Leaf—astringent,

styptic, antitumour. Root and

leaf—rubefacient. Tubers—used as

vegetable after eliminating oxalate


All parts of the plant, except tubers,

contain cyanogenic principle,

a mixture of triglochinin and isotriglochinin.

The tubers contain sterols

and high concentration of soluble oxalates

(prolonged use may lead to calcium

deficiency and oxaluria.) The

tubers contain a trypsin/chymotrypsin

inhibitor. The plant contains HCN

(.%). It is found to be mitogenic


36 Aloe barbadensis Mill.

to human peripheral blood lymphocytes.

Dosage Tuber—– g powder.


Aloe barbadensis Mill.

Synonym A. vera Tourn. ex Linn.

A. indica Royle

A. littoralis Koening

Family Liliaceae; Agavaceae.

Habitat Cultivated throughout


Gujarat and South India.

English Curacao Aloe, Barbados

Aloe, Indian Aloe, Jaffarabad Aloe.

Ayurvedic Kanyaasaara, Eleyaka

(dried juice of the leaves). Kumaari,

Kumaarikaa, Kanyaa, Grihkanyaa,

Ghritkumaarika (plant).

Unani Gheekwaar, Sibr.

Siddha/Tamil Sotru Kattraazhai,

Kumaari. Moosaambaram (dried


Folk Elwaa, Musabbar (dried juice

of leaves).

Action Purgative (causes griping),

emmenagogue. Gel—topically

emollient, anti-inflammatory,

antimicrobial (used for wound

healing, sunburn).

Key application In occasional

constipation; contraindicated

in intestinal obstruction and

acutely inflamed intestinal diseases,

ulcerative colitis, appendicitis.

(German Commission E, ESCOP,


The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of

India recommends the use of dried

juice of leaves in dysmenorrhoea

and diseases of the liver.

Aloe vera improved the hypoglycaemic

effect of glyburide (glibenclamide)

when one tablespoonful aloe

juice was given orally in the morning

and at bedtime to  diabetic patients

for  days. The juice (same dose)

showed antihyperglycaemic activity

(independently). (Francis Brinker.)

Anthraquinone glycosides, known

as aloin, in small doses act as a tonic

to the digestive system, and at higher

doses become a strong purgative, as

well as increase colonic secretions and

peristaltic contractions. Resin fraction

is also as important as aloin in cathartic

action. In A. barbadensis the highest

percentage of aloin is .%.

Aloe produces pelvic congestion and

is used for uterine disorders, generally

with Fe and carminatives. The pulp is

used in menstrual suppressions.

Amolecule in the Aloe vera gel, acemannan,

stimulates macrophages and

releases immune system potentiators;

enhances function of T cells and interferon

production. Animal studies

have shown promising results in sarcoma.

The carboxypeptidase and salicylate

components of Aloe gel can inhibit

bradykinin, a pain-producing agent;

C-glycosyl chromone appears to reduce

topical inflammation. Aloe gel

also slows or inhibits the synthesis

of thromboxane, which may accelerate

the healing of burns. (NaturalMedicines




Alpinia officinarum Hance 37

Dosage Leaf pulp juice—– ml.

(CCRAS.) Dried leaf pulp juice—

– mg powder. (API Vol. I.)

Alpinia galanga Willd.

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat The Himalayas and

southern region of western Ghats.

English Greater Galangal.

Ayurvedic Kulanjana, Sthuulagranthi,

Sugandhaa, Ugragandhaa,

Malaya Vachaa, Mahaabhari-

Vachaa. Substitute for Raasnaa

(Pluchea lanceolata).

Unani Khulanjaan.

Siddha/Tamil Perarattai.

Action Rhizome—carminative (in

dyspepsia), stomachic, circulatory

stimulant, diaphoretic, antiinflammatory.

Throughout southern India, the rhizome

of Alpinia galanga is used as

Raasnaa for rheumatism, intermittent

fever, dyspepsia and respiratory ailments.

(In the north, Vanda tessellata

or Pluchea lanceolata is used as Raasnaa.)

EtOH extract of the plant shows

anti-inflammatory activity. The ethanolic

extract also showed significant antiulcer

activity in rats, which has been

attributed to the antisecretory and cytoprotective

properties of the plant.

Major constituents of the essential

oil are methyl cinnamate, cineole and

d-pinene. In moderate doses, the oil

exhibits antispasmodic action.

Unani physicians use A. galanga as

a sex tonic. In mice, the drug caused

a significant gain in theweight of sexual

organs and increased sperm motility

and sperm count.

Plants used as Raasnaa in Indian

medicine: Alpinia galangaWilld. (Zingiberaceae)

in southern India; Pluchea

lanceolata C. B. Clarke (Compositae;

Asteraceae) in Uttar Pradesh; Vanda

roxburghii R. Br. (Orchidaceae) in

eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal;

Blepharispermum subsessile DC.

(Compositae; Asteraceae) in Madhya

Pradesh; and Dodonaea viscosa (Linn.)

Jacq. (Sapindaceae) inAndhraPradesh.

Dosage Rhizome—– g powder.

Decoction—– ml. (CCRAS.)

Alpinia malaccensis Rosc.

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat Eastern Himalayas, Assam,

Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, up to

, m, and western Ghats of


Folk Saliyeridumpa (Tamil).

Action Rhizome—employed to

cure sores. Fruits—emetic (used

with salt).

Therhizomes yield essential oil consisting

of methyl cinnamate as chief


Alpinia officinarum Hance

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat Native to China; cultivated

in northern India.

English Lesser Galangal, Alpinia,

Catarrh Root, Chinese Ginger.


38 Alpinia speciosa (Wendl.) K.Schum.

Ayurvedic Kulanjan (var.).

Unani Khulanjaan (smaller var.).

Siddha/Tamil Chitrarattai.

Action Rhizome—a circulatory

stimulant and carminative.

Key application As a carminative.

(The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

Aqueous and methanolic extracts of

the rhizome, on oral administration,

exhibited significant decrease in gastric

secretion in rabbits and showed anticholinergic

effect in pylorus-ligated


Flavones from rhizomes are strongly

antifungal against a wide variety

of pathogenic fungi, responsible for

major skin diseases in eastern India.

Flavones were also found to be active

against a number of Gram-positive and

Gram-negative bacteria.

The gingerols and diaryheptanoids

constituents of the rhizome are potent

inhibitors of PG synthetase (prostaglandin

biosynthesizing enzyme); they

can also be active against -lipoxygenase,

an enzyme involved in leukotriene

biosynthesis. (NaturalMedicines

Comprehensive Database, .)

Alpinia speciosa

(Wendl.) K.Schum.

Synonym A. Zerumbet Burtt and

R.M. Smith

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat Native to East Indies.

Occurs in the eastern Himalayas

from West Bengal eastwards.

English Light Galangal.

Siddha/Tamil Chitraraththai.

Action Rhizomes are used as

a substitute for A. galanga and

even for ginger; antiulcerative,


The leaves and rhizomes yield an

essential oil which contains alpha-and

beta-pinene, borneol, campene and cineole

as major constituents.

Alstonia scholaris R. Br.

Family Apocynaceae.

Habitat Throughout moist regions

of India, especially in West Bengal

and west-coast forests of southern


English Devil's tree, Dita Bark tree.

Ayurvedic Saptaparna, Saptachhada,

Saptaparni, Saptaahvaa,

Vishaaltvak, Shaarada, Vishamchhada.

Unani Chhaatim, Kaasim (Kaasim

Roomi, Anjudaan Roomi is equated

with Myrrhis odorata Scope.)

Siddha/Tamil Ezhilamippalai,


Folk Chhitavan, Sataunaa.

Action Bark—febrifuge, antiperiodic,

spasmolytic, antidysenteric,

uterine stimulant, hypotensive; used

for internal fevers.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of stembark

in phosphaturia and recommends it as

a blood purifier.


Alternanthera sessilis (Linn.) R. Br. ex DC. 39

Alstonia sp. is known as Fever Bark.

A. constricta is native to Australia;

A. scholaris to Australia and Southeast

Asia. The bark of both the species

contains indole alkaloids. A. constricta

contains reserpine (a hyptotensive

agent). A. scholaris contains echitamine,

which has also demonstrated

hypotensive effects. Though A. scholaris

produces fall in the temperature

of human patients with fever, there

are conflicting reports about the activity

of echitamine against Plasmodium


Dosage Stembark—– g for

decoction. (API Vol. I.)

Alstonia venenata R. Br.

Family Apocynaceae.

Habitat Peninsular India.

Folk Pazh-munipala (Tamil),

Addasarpa (Kannada), Palamunpala


Action Stembark and fruit—


The plant is a rich source of indole

alkaloids. Major alkaloids in the stembark

are alstovenine, venenatine, -

dehydroalstovenine, reserpine (.–

.%), venoxidine and kopsinine.

Alstovenine, in lower doses, exhibits

monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity;

in higher doses, shows marked central

stimulant effect (reversal of reserpine

effects). Venenatine exhibits reserpinelike

profile of activity (sedation, ptosis,

reduction in motor activity).

The fruit contains vincadifformine

type of alkaloids. Echitovenidine, the

major alkaloid, shows monoamine

oxidase-inhibitory activity both in vitro

and in vivo.

Alternanthera sessilis

(Linn.) R. Br. ex DC.

Synonym A. triandra Lam.

A. denticulata R. Br.

A. repens Gmel. Non-Link.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Throughout the hotter

parts of India, especially around

tanks and ponds.

Ayurvedic Matsyaakshi, Matsyaakshika

(a multimeaning name,

also indicating Braahmi, Aindri),

Matsyagandhaa, Matsyaadini,

Minaakshi, Bahli, Gandali,

Gartkalambukaa, Vaahlikaa.

Unani Machhechhi.

Siddha/Tamil Ponnonkanni keerai.

Folk Gudari Saag.

Action Febrifuge, galactagogue,


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of driedwhole

plant in diseases due to vitiated blood

and obstinate skin diseases.

Young shoots contain protein %

and iron . mg/ g. Leaves also

contain a good amount of alpha- and


The plant gave stigmasterol, betasitosterol,

a saturated aliphatic hydrocarbon

and aliphatic ester.

Dosage Whole plant—– g

powder. (API Vol. II.)


40 Althaea officinalis Linn.

Althaea officinalis Linn.

Family Malvaceae.

Habitat Native to eastern Europe;

found in Kashmir and Himachal


English Marshmallow, Hollyhock.

Unani Khatmi, Gul-Khairu (also

equated with Althaea rosea Linn.).

Siddha/Tamil Shemai-tutti.

Action Demulcent, emollient,

antitussive (used for cough,

bronchitis, gastritis, enteritis and

cystitis), antilithic, diuretic.

Key application (leaf and root) In

irritation of the oral and pharyngeal

mucosa and associated dry cough;

in mild inflammation of the gastric

mucosa. (German Commission E,

ESCOP.) As demulcent. (The

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

In gastroenteritis, peptic and

duodenal ulceration, common

and ulcerative colitis. (The British

Herbal Compendium.) Topically

for varicose veins, skin ulcers,

abscesses, cuts, burns.

Althaea rosea (L.) Cav., synonym Alcea

rosea L., Hollyhock flower, is used

as mucilage for prophylaxis and therapy

of diseases and discomforts of the

respiratory and gastrointestinal tract

and for urinary complaints. (It is included

among unapproved herbs by

German Commission E.)

The root contains starch, mucilage,

pectin, flavonoids, phenolic acids, sucrose,

tannins and asparagines. Mucilage

(–%) consists of a number of

polysaccharides. Flavonoids include

kaempferol, quercetin and diosmetin

glucosides. Polyphenolic acids include

syringic, caffeic, salcyclic, vanillic and

p-coumaric acids.

The mucilages have proven biological

activity including stimulation of

phagocytosis in vitro.

The root counters excess stomach

acid, peptic ulceration and gastritis.

Altingia excelsa Noronha

Family Altingiaceae.

Habitat Assam and Arunachal


English Storax, Oriental Sweet


Ayurvedic Shilaarasa, Turushka,

Silhaka (substitute for Liquidamber

orientalis, Hamamelidaceae).

Siddha/Tamil Neriyurishippal.

Action Resin—carminative, stomachic,

antiscorbutic expectorant,

antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antistress,

hepatoprotective. Externally

used in scabies and leucoderma.

The ethyl acetate extract of the root

of A. excelsa was studied for antistress

effect in a variety of biological models

of stress; also in stress-induced ulcers

and CCl-induced hepatotoxicity. Antistress

was the most significant pharmacological

property of the Storax.

Amanita muscaria Linn.

Family Agaricaceae; Amanitaceae.

English Fly Agaric (mushroom),

Aga, Soma.


Amaranthus spinosus Linn. 41

Ayurvedic Identified as Soma of

Rigveda (controversial). (Sushruta

described  varieties of Soma and

 other drugs as its substitutes.)

Intensely poisonous; used for


The fungus has been used in Russia

for preparing an intoxicating drink.

Toxic principles arecholine, muscarine

and mycetoatropine (muscaridine).

Muscarine stimulates postganglionic,

cholinergic and neuroeffector

junctions. The isoxazole constituents

are psychoactive.

– FlyAgaric (more than  g fresh)

are toxic;  (more than  g fresh) are

lethal. (Francis Brinker.)

A. pantherina is used in Japan for


Aga is not a true hallucinogen. The

illusions are amisinterpretation of sensory

stimuli due to isoxazole, ibotenic

acid, muscimol, muscazone and traces

of muscarine. (Natural Medicines

Comprehensive Database, .)

Amaranthus blitum Linn. var.

oleraceus Duthie

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Throughout India.

English Trailing Amaranth, Wild


Ayurvedic Maarisha.

Siddha/Tamil Aarumathathandu,


Folk Marasaa.

Action Cooling, stomachic,

emollient. Used in biliousness,

haemorrhagic diathesis.

Amaranthus caudatus Linn.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Grown as vegetable in

northern India.

English Love-Lies-Bleeding, Tassel


Ayurvedic Raam-daanaa (grain).

Siddha/Tamil Pungikeerai, Sirukeerai.

Folk Chuko.

Action Blood-purifier, diuretic;

used in piles, strangury, dropsy

and anasarca; tea has been used

for relieving pulmonary conditions;

also given in scrofula and applied

to scrofulous sores. Antimicrobial

peptides have been isolated from


In Western herbal medicine, Love-

Lies-Bleeding is equated with Amaranthus

hypochondriacus, and is used for

ulcers, diarrhoea, as well as inflammation

of the mouth and throat.

Preliminary evidence suggests that

Amaranth seed can reduce total cholesterol

and LDL, while increasing HDL,

but Amaranth muffins failed to reduce

cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic

adults beyond the reduction

achieved by low-fat diet. (NaturalMedicines



Amaranthus spinosus Linn.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Cultivated fields, waste

places and along roadsides.


42 Amaranthus tricolor Linn.

English Spiny Amaranth, Thorny

Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed.

Ayurvedic Tanduliya, Tandulaka,

Meghnaad, Megharava, Vishaghn,


Siddha/Tamil Mullukkeerai.

Folk Katili-chaulai.

Action Galactogenic, laxative,

emollient, spasmolytic, diuretic.

Pollen extract—used for allergic

asthma and allergic rhinitis. Root—

used in menorrhoea.

Plant contains sterols. Leaves and

stems contain alpha-spinasterol and

hentriacontane. Leaves also contain

amino acids with high content of lysine.

Dosage Whole plant—– ml

juice; – mg powder.


Amaranthus tricolor Linn.

Synonym A. gangeticus Linn.

A. melancholicus Linn.

A. polygamus Linn. Hook. f. in part.

A. tristis Linn.

Family Amaranthaceae.

Habitat Cultivated throughout


English Chinese Spinach, Garden

Amaranth, Fountain Plant.

Ayurvedic Maarisha-rakta (red


Siddha/Tamil Arai-keerai, Sirukeerai,

Thandu-keerai, Mulakkerai


Folk Laal Shaak, Laal Marashaa.

Action Astringent (in menorrhagia,

leucorrhoea, dysentery, diarrhoea,

haemorrhagic colitis); also used in

cough, bronchitis and consumption;

externally emollient.

The plant contains amarantin, isoamarantin,

betaine, aminoacids, sterols.

Dosage Leaf, seed, root—– ml

juice. (API Vol. III.) Powder—–

 g. (CCRAS.)

Amberboa divaricata Kuntze

Synonym Volutarella divaricata

Benth. and Hook. F.

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat Distributed in theMediterranean

region, extending to Central

Asia and India.

Ayurvedic Brahmadandi (Tricholepis

glaberrima DC. of the

same family is also equated with


Unani Baadaavard.

Action Deobstruent, aperient,

febrifuge, nervine (used in debility),

antiseptic (used in leucoderma).

Ammannia baccifera Linn.

Family Lythraceae.

Habitat Marshy areas throughout

India, as a weed.

English Blistering Ammannia.

Ayurvedic Agnipatri.


Ammi visnaga (Linn.) Lam 43

Folk Daadmaari. (Also known as


Action Stomachic, laxative,

antirheumatic, febrifuge. Leaves—

used externally for ringworm,

herpic eruptions and other skin

diseases; rubefacient.

Leaves contain lawsone. Plant extract—

antibacterial. Extracts of stem,

leaf and inflorescence are more effective

as compared with the seed and root


Ammi majus Linn.

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Cultivated in Jammu and

Himachal Pradesh.

English Biship's Weed-Amee,

Greater Ammi.

Unani Itarilaal, Khalah.

Action Source of xanthotoxin,

a drug employed in the treatment of

leucoderma. Dried fruit powder or

extract of the plant is used topically

in vitiligo.

The fruits contain ammoidin (xanthotoxin),

ammidin (imperatorin) and

majudin (bergapten). All the three

compounds are used in leucoderma.

Maximum xanthotoxin content (%) is

found in green fruits from Jammu.

The -MOP, methoxypsoralen constituent

of the weed is one of the first

agents used along with UVA radiation

to treat psoriasis. (Natural Medicines

Comprehensive Database, .)

Ammi visnaga (Linn.) Lam

Synonym Daucus visnaga Linn.

Visnaga daucoides Gaertn.

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Cultivated as a garden

ornamental; runs wild at many

places in Jammu region.

English Khella.

Folk Paashaanabhedi (controversial;

Bergenia ligulata has been equated

with the classical Paashaanabheda).

Action Antispasmodic in renal

colic, bronchial asthma, whooping

cough (used by Unani physicians),

vasodilator (in angina pectoris).

Key application German

Commission E approved the

herb on  March , but due to

information on potential risks, its

status was changed to unapproved

on  April .

Khella contains khellin (%), visnagin,

khellol glycoside, flavonoids,

sterols, volatile oil (.%). Khellin and

visnagin exert a powerful antispasmodic

effect on the smaller bronchial

muscles, the coronary arteries and on

the urinary tubules. Khellin provides

relief to asthmatic patients. The drug

also relieves painful spasm of stone in

kidney and bladder (no more used for

expelling kidney stones).

Khella does not reduce blood pressure

in spite of being a vasodilator.

Khellin is toxic at  mg. (Francis


Khella is used topically for vitiligo

and psoriasis. The Khellin constituent

is similar to the psoralen nucleA

44 Amomum aromaticum Roxb.

us andmight be useful as a photosensitizer

in patients with psoriasis. (NaturalMedicines



(Several modern drugs including

amiodarone, nifedipine and cromolyn

have been developed from Khella.)

Amomum aromaticum Roxb.

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat North Bengal and Assam.

English Bengal Cardamom,


Ayurvedic Sthula-elaa (var.)

Siddha/Tamil Perelam.

Folk Morang-elaaichi.

Action Similar to that of A. subulatum.

The seeds yield on essential oil (.–

.%) containing cineole as the principal


Chinese practitioners avoid the use

of cardamom in conditions marked by

symptoms of excessive heat.

Amomum subulatum Roxb.

Family Zingiberaceae.

Habitat Cultivated in swampy

places in Bengal, Sikkim, Assam

and Tamil Nadu.

English Greater or Nepal Cardamom.

Ayurvedic Sthula-elaa, Bhadraa,

Bhadrailaa, Bahulaa, Prithivikaa,

Triputaa, Truti.

Unani Heel Kalaan, Qaaqule


Siddha/Tamil Peria Elam, Kattu

Elam, Beraelam.

Action Stomachic, antiemetic, antibilious,

astringent, alexipharmic;

used for the treatment of indigestion,

biliousness, abdominal

pains, vomiting, in congestion of

liver. Pericarp—in headache and


Theseeds contain a chalcone (cardamonin),

a flavonoid (alpinetin), petunidin-

, -diglucoside and leucocyanidin

glucocide; also a aurone glycoside

subulin. The essential oil (.%) contains


Dosage Seed–– g powder.


Amoora cucullata Roxb.

Family Meliaceae.

Habitat Coastal forests of West

Bengal and Andaman Islands.

Folk Amur, Latmi, Natmi (Bengal).

Action Leaf—anti-inflammatory.

Amphicome emodi Lindl.

Family Bignoniaceae.

Habitat Temperate Himalaya from

Kashmir to Kumaon at – m.

Folk Kaur (Kashmir).

Action Plant—febrifuge; used as

a substitute for Swertia chirayita.


Amygdalus persica Linn. 45

An iridoid glycoside named amphicoside

is reported from the plant.

Amorphophallus campanulatus

(Roxb.) Blume ex Decne.

Family Araceae.

Habitat Native to tropical Asia;

cultivated throughout India.

English Elephant-foot Yam.

Ayurvedic Suurana, Kanduula,

Arshoghna, Kand-ayak, Kandala.

Unani Zamin-qand, Zamikand.

Siddha/Tamil Chenaikkizhangu.

Kaathukarunai (wild var.)

Action Corm is prescribed in

bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain,

emesis, dysentery, enlargement of

spleen, piles, elephantiasis, diseases

due to vitiated blood, rheumatic


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of corm in

prostatic hyperplasia.

(The corm is irritant due to thepresence

of calcium oxalate. It can be consumedafter

it iswashedwell andboiled

in tamarind water or butter milk.)

The corm contains an active diastatic

enzyme amylase, betulinic acid,

tricontane, lupeol, stigmasterol, betasitosterol

and its palmitate and glucose,

galactose, rhamnose and xylose.

Intake of .-. g of konjac (Amorphophallus

konjac tuber) mannan for

 days reduced the dose of insulin or

hypoglycaemic drugs (in human clinical

study). (Francis Brinker.)

Amorphophallus sylvatius Kunth. is

equated with the wild var. of Suurana,

used especially in the treatment

of piles.

Dosage Dried corm—– g

powder. (API Vol. III.) – g

powder. (CCRAS.)

Amygdalus communis Linn.

Synonym Prunus amygdalus Baill.

A. communis var. dulcis (sweet


A. communis var. amara (bitter


Family Rosaceae.

Habitat Native to Asia Minor and

Persia; cultivated in India in cooler

parts of Punjab and Kashmir.

English Almond

Ayurvedic Vaataama, Vaataada.

Unani Badaam, Loz.

Siddha/Tamil Vaadumai.

Action Sweet almonds—nutrient,

nervine tonic, demulcent. Oil—

externally for skin. Bitter almonds—

not used medicinally.

Almondflour andalmondbutter are

free from starch and used in foods for

diabetics and for patients with peptic

ulcers. Chief protein in kernels is globulin.

Amygdalus persica Linn.

Synonym Prunus persica Batsch.

Family Rosaceae.


46 Anacardium occidentale Linn.

Habitat Native to China; cultivated

in Himalayan regions; grows in

tropical and semi-tropical regions

and temperate climates.

English Peach tree.

Ayurvedic Aaruka.

Unani Aaaduu, Khokh.

Action Leaves and bark—expectorant

(used in cough, whooping

cough, and chronic bronchitis),

sedative, stomachic, demulcent,

antiscorbutic, diuretic. Fresh

leaves—anthelmintic. Powder of

leaves—styptic (externally). Fruit—

stomachic, antiscorbutic.

Anacardium occidentale Linn.

Family Anacardiaceae.

Habitat Native to tropical America,

from Mexico to Peru and Brazil.

Cultivated largely in Malabar,

Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu

and Andhra Pradesh, and to some

extent in Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa

and West Bengal.

English Cashew Nut.

Unani Kaaju.

Siddha/Tamil Mindiri.

Action Leaves and bark—fungicidal,

vermicidal, protozoicidal,

antimicrobial (used for toothache,

sore gums). Karnel—eaten for

its high protein content. Cashew

apple—antiscorbutic. Resinous

juice contained in the seeds—used

in cases of mental derangement,

memory disturbances, palpitation

of heart, rheumatic pericarditis,

sexual debility.

The nut contains % fat and %

protein. Leaves contain flavonoids,

mainly glycosides of quercetin and

kaempferol, and hydroxybenzoic acid.

The bark contains a balsam-containing

anacardic acid, anacardol, cardol and

ginkgol. The caustic liquid in the

shell contains about % anacardic

acid, a mixture of alkyl salicylic acid

derivatives. The leaves are febrifuge.

Anacardic acid is bactericidal, fungicidal,

vermicidal and protozoicidal. The

leaves and bark exhibited hypotensive

activity in rats.

The phenolics of the cashew-nut

shell oil have inhibited the enzymic

activity of alpha-glucosidase, invertase

and aldose reductase (anacardic acids

being the most potent). Cardols have

also shown antifilarial activity in vitro.

Anacardic acids, cardols and methyl

cardols have been found to exhibit

moderate cytotoxic activity.

Anacyclus pyrethrum DC.

Synonym A. officinarum Hayne

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat Native to theMediterranean

region; cultivated in Algeria.

English Spanish, Pellitory,

Pyrethrum Root.

Ayurvedic Aakaarakarabha,

Aakallaka, Aakulakrit, Agragraahi.

Unani Aaqarqarhaa.

Siddha/Tamil Akkiraakaaram.


Anamirta cocculus (Linn.)Wight and Arn. 47

Action Stimulant, cordial, rubefacient.

A gargle of infusion is prescribed

for relaxed vulva. Root—

used for toothache, rheumatic and

neuralgic affections and rhinitis.

Roots, along with the root of Withania

somnifera and Vitis vinifera, are

used in epilepsy.

Along with other therapeutic applications,

Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of the root

in sciatica, paralysis, hemiplegia and


The root contains anacycline, isobutylamide,

inulin and a trace of essential


The local anaesthetic activity of the

alcoholic (%) extract of the root was

found to be comparable to that of xylocaine

hydrochloride (%) in dental


Use of the drug in patients with

insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

reduces the dose of insulin. It decreased

the plasma glucose and serum

cholesterol levels after oral administration

for – weeks. (The plant is

mixed with Helleborus nigar in a ratio

of :.) The plant extract inhibited

tobacco-inducedmutagenesis by .%

at a concentration of  mg/plate.

Dosage Root— mg to  g

powder. (CCRAS.)

Anagallis arvensis Linn.

Family Primulaceae.

Habitat Northwestern Himalayas

from Kashmir eastwards to Nepal,

hills of West Bengal; Central and

southern India.

English Bird's Eye, Bird's Tongue,

Blue Pimpernel, Scarlet Pimpernel.

Unani Anaaghaalis.

Folk Jonkmaari (Maharashtra),

Dhabbar (Punjab), Jighanaa,


Action Plant—anti-inflammatory,

astringent, deobstructant, antifungal,

nematocidal; toxic to


The plant yields anagalligenone B.

The presence of quaternary alkaloids,

gluco-fructoside and tannin have been

reported. The root yields glycosidic

saponins, including cyclamin. An

acetyl saponin, isolated fromthe plant,

was found to possess marked taenicidal

activity but had no effect on roundworms.

A methanolic extract of the aerial

parts showed activity against herpes

simplex I, adenovirus type II and polio

type II. Triterepene saponins have

oestrogenic activity.

Anamirta cocculus

(Linn.)Wight and Arn.

Synonym A. paniculata Colebr.

Family Menispermaceae.

Habitat The Khasi Hills, Orissa and

peninsular India.

English Fish Berry, Levant Berry,

Poison Berry, Crow Killer.

Ayurvedic Kaakaadani, Kaakamaari.

Siddha/Tamil Kaakkaikkollividai.

Action Insecticide, antifungal;

highly valued in skin diseases; used


48 Ananas comosus (Linn.) Merrill

externally to kill lice and other


The leaves and fruit contain picrotoxin

(up to %) and alkaloids. Picrotoxin

(sesquiterpene glycoside) is

a powerful poison and nerve stimulant.

It is rarely taken internally. Cocculus

(a tincture prepared from the powdered

seeds of Cocculus indicus) is used

internally as a homoeopathicmedicine

for convulsions, neurological disorders

and psychosis-related fear.

Picrotoxin at  mg is toxic, and

two to three berries are lethal. (Francis


Ananas comosus (Linn.)Merrill

Family Bromeliaceae.

Habitat Native to South America;

cultivated mostly in Tamil Nadu,

coastal Andhra Pradesh, Assam,

Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal,

Tripura and Orissa.

English Pineapple.

Ayurvedic Anaanaasa, Bahunetra.

Unani Anannaas.

Siddha/Tamil Annanshippazham,


Action Anti-inflammatory (fresh

juice used as a gargle for sore

throat). A proteolytic enzyme,

bromelain, is derived from the

stem—anti-inflammatory, smooth

muscle relaxant, digester, inhibitor

of blood platelet aggregation. (It is

used for cellulitis, post-operative

oedema, sinusitis and for promoting

digestion of proteins.)

Key application Bromelain, the

proteolytic enzyme, is used in acute

postoperative and post-traumatic

conditions of swellings, especially

of the nasal and paranasal sinuses.

(German Commission E.) InEurope,

a patented tape that contains

bromelain is used for debriding

escharotic skin. (Internally,

bromelain's bioavailability has been


Anaphalis neelgerriana DC.

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat The Nilgiri Hills at ,–

, m.

Ayurvedic Raktaskandana.

Folk Kaatplaaster (Nilgiri hills).

Action Antiseptic. Fresh leaves are

bruised and applied to wounds and

cuts as plaster.

An acyl flavonoid glycoside, anaphaloside,

alongwith isoquercitrin and

astragalin, has been isolated from the

flowers of a related sp. Anaphalis contorta,

used as an antibacterial and styptic.

Anastatica hierochuntica Linn.

Family Cruciferae.

Habitat Arabia, Palestine, Syria.

English Jericho Rose.

Unani Kafemariyam, Kafe-aaishaa.

Folk Garbha-phool.

Action Used in difficult labour.


Andrographis panicultata Wall. ex Nees 49

Anchusa italica Retz.

Synonym A. azurea Mill.

Family Boraginaceae.

Habitat Indian gardens, and hills.

English Cow's Tongue Plant.

Ayurvedic Gojihvikaa (considered

as a vegetable, equated with Launaea

asplenifolia Hook. f., Compositae,

Asteraceae.) Unani Gaozabaan is

a different drug.

Unani Gaozabaan. (Now equated

with species of Boraginaceae,

particularly Borago officinalis Linn.

Imported Unani drug Gaozabaan

consists of the leaves and nutlets of

Anchusa strigosa Labill and Echium

amoenum Fisch. and Mey.)

Action Stimulant, tonic, demulcent;

used in bilious complaints, fever,

cough, asthma; as diuretic in

bladder and kidney stones. Oil—a

rich source of vitamin E (.%),

more than that of wheat-germ oil

(.%). The nutlets show positive

tests for alkaloids and tannins. The

flowers yield anthocyanins and the

leafy stems yield bornesitol.

Andrographis echioides Nees

Family Acanthaceae.

Habitat Warmer parts of India.

Folk Ranchimani (Maharashtra).

Action Febrifuge, diuretic.

The plant contains a flavone, echiodinin,

and its glucoside, echioidin.

EtOH(%) extract of the plant exhibited

diuretic activity in animal studies.

Andrographis panicultata

Wall. ex Nees

Family Acanthaceae.

Habitat Throughout India, from

Himachal Pradesh to Assam and

Mizoram, and all over southern


English Creat.

Ayurvedic Kaalmegha, Bhuunimba,

Bhuuminimbaka, Vishwambharaa,

Yavtikta, Kalpanaatha, Kiraata-tikta


Unani Kiryaat.

Siddha/Tamil Nilavembu.

Action Hepatoprotective, cholinergic,

antispasmodic, stomachic,

anthelmintic, alterative, blood

purifier, febrifuge. It acts well on

the liver, promoting secretion of

bile. Used in jaundice and torpid

liver, flatulence and diarrhoea of

children, colic, strangulation of

intestines and splenomegaly; also

for cold and upper respiratory tract


Key application As bitter tonic,

febrifuge and hepatoprotective.

(Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

Kaalmegha, officinal in IP, consists

of dried leaves and tender shoots,

which yield not less than % andrographolide

on dry-weight basis.

Several active constituentshave been

identified from the leaf and rhizome,

including andrographolide, deoxyandrographolide

and other diterpenes.

Andrographolide exhibited strong

choleretic action when administered

i.p. to rats. It induces increase in bile


50 Andropogon muricatus Retz.

flow together with change in physical

properties of bile secretion. It was

found to be more potent than silymarin.

Andrographolide was found to be

almost devoid of antihepatitis-B virus

surface antigen-like activity (when

compared with picroliv.)

The leaf and stem extracts of Kaalmegha/

andrographolide given s.c. or

orally did not change blood sugar level

of normal or diabetic rats.

Alcoholic extract of the plant exhibited

antidiarrhoeal activity against

E. coli enterotoxins in animal models.

Clinical evidence of effectiveness of

andrographis in humans is limited to

the common cold. Preliminary evidence

suggests that it might increase

antibody activity and phagocytosis by

macrophages, and might have mast

cell-stabilizing and antiallergy activity.

(Natural Medicines Comprehensive

Database, .)

Theherb is contraindicated in bleeding

disorders, hypotension, as well as

male and female sterility (exhibited infertility

in laboratory animals).

Dosage Whole plant—– ml

juice; – ml decotion; – g

powder. (CCRAS.)

Andropogon muricatus Retz.

Synonym Vetiveria zizanioides

(Linn.) Nash.

Family Poaceae.

Habitat All over India.

English Vetiver, Cuscus.

Ayurvedic Ushira.

Unani Khas.

Siddha Vettiveru.

Action Roots—refrigerant,

febrifuge, diaphoretic, stimulant,

stomachic and emmenagogue;

used in strangury, colic, flatulence,

obstinate vomiting; paste used as

a cooling application in fevers.

Major constituents of the essential

oil are vetiselinenol and khusimol. Several

sesquiterpenoids, including vetidiol,

are also present. The two types of

oils, laevorotatory and dextrorotatory,

from northern India and southern India,

respectively, are biochemically different.

Andropogon sp.: see Cymbopogon


Anemone obtusiloba D. Don

Synonym A. pulsatilla Linn.

Family Ranunculaceae.

Habitat Native to Europe; thrives

in dry grassland in central and

northern parts of the continent.

English Wind-Flower, Wood

Anemone, Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla.

Unani Gul-laalaa, Shaqaaq-un-


Action Nervine and sedative

(used for anxiety neurosis, nervous

exhaustion, tension, headache,

migraine, insomnia), antispasmodic

(in catarrh); used for amenorrhoea,

inflammation of ovaries, painful

menstruation and genito-urinary

infections. The rootstock is given

with milk for concussions. The


Angelica archangelica Linn. var. himalaica (C. B. Clarke) Krishnaand Badhwar 51

seeds cause vomiting and purging.

The seed oil is used in rheumatism.

Pulsatilla contains ranunculin,

which hydrolyzes to a toxic, unstable

compound protoanemonin, which

readily dimerizes to non-toxic anemonin.

Anemonin and protoanemonin exhibit

sedative and antipyretic activity.

Protoanemonin is also antimicrobial.

(Topically, Pulsatilla is used for infectious

diseases of the skin.)

Anethum sowa Roxb. ex Flem.

Synonym A. graveolens Linn. var.

sowa Roxb.

A. graveolens DC.

Peucedanum sowa Roxb.

Peucedanum graveolens Benth.

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Cultivated all over India.

English Indian Dill, Sowa.

Ayurvedic Shataahvaa. Shatapushpaa

(also accepted as Foeniculum

vulgare Mill., equated with

Mishreya, Mishi, Madhurikaa).

Unani Shibt, Soyaa.

Siddha/Tamil Sadakuppai.

Action Carminative, stomachic,


Key application In dyspepsia.

(German Commission E.)

The fresh and dried leaf is used for

prevention and treatment of diseases

and disorders of the gastrointestinal

tract, kidney and urinary tract, for

spasms and sleep disorders. (Included

among unapproved herbs by German

Commission E.)

An aqueous dill extract, administered

intravenously, lowers blood pressure,

dilates blood vessels, stimulates

respiration and slows heart rate in animals.

(Natural Medicines Comprehensive

Database, .)

Dill seeds contain up to % volatile

oil (about half of which is carvone),

flavonoids, coumarins, xanthones and

triterpenes. The yield of the oil from

Indian A. sowa varies from . to .%.

Carvone is themajor constituent (.–

.%). The oil from seeds is used for

flatulence in children and enters into

the preparations of gripe water. The oil

is also antimicrobial and antifungal.

Dill apiol is considered undesirable

and toxic. Vizag fruit var. from

Andhra Pradesh is dill-apiol-free and

with –%, carvone content having

same flavonoid pattern as A. sowa.

Dosage Dried fruit—– g powder.

(API Vol. III.) Fruit, leaf—– g

powder. (CCRAS.)

Angelica archangelica Linn. var.

himalaica (C. B. Clarke) Krishna

and Badhwar

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Native to Syria; now grown

in Kashmir at ,–, m.

Ayurvedic Chandaa, Chandaamshuka,


Action Expectorant, carminative,

digestant, cholagogue, antispasmodic,

diaphoretic, diuretic,

anti-inflammatory, smooth muscle

relaxant, antifungal, antibacterial.


52 Angelica glauca Edgew.

Key application In flatulence and

peptic discomforts. The root

is a component in numerous

gastrointestinal, cholagogue and

biliary remedies in Germany.

(Angelica root is an approved herb,

whereas the seed and above-ground

parts have been included among

unapproved herbs by German

Commission E.)

Chinese angelica root, Dong Quai,

is equated with Angelica sinensis. It

is prescribed internally for menstrual

irregularity, lack of menstruation and

painful menstruation.

The roots from Kashmir yield furocoumarins,

phenol compounds and


Xanthotoxol exhibited antihistamintic

and antinicotinic activities on

guinea-pig ileum. The dry extract has

been shown to have anti-inflammatory


The root is reported to inhibit bacterial

and fungal growth.

Furocoumarins, especially psoralen

and -methoxypsoralen, are used in

the photochemotherapy of psoriasis

and vitiligo. The biological activity

is due to covalent linkage formed

with DNA by irradiation with longwavelength

UV light.

Most of the coumarins have shown

significant calcium antagonistic activity

in vitro.

Angelicin, a resin, is stimulating to

the lungs and skin. contraindicated in

bleeding disorders, peptic ulcers and

pregnancy. (Sharon M. Herr.)

Dosage Root—– g powder.


Angelica glauca Edgew.

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Kashmir and Chamba in

Himachal Pradesh, between ,–

, m.

English Angelica.

Ayurvedic Choraka, Chorakaa,

Kopanaa, Chorakaakhya,

Nishaachara, Dhanhar, Taskara,


Action Root—cordial and stimulant,

carminative (used in constipation),

expectorant, diaphoretic.

The root contains furocoumarins,

also dimeric, lingusticum lactone.

Dosage Root—– g powder.


Anisochilus carnosus Wall.

Family Labiatae; Lamiaceae.

Habitat The western Himalayas,

Central and southern India.

Folk Karpuravalli (southern


Action Stimulant, expectorant and

diaphoretic. Juice of fresh leaves is

used in urticaria and other allergic

conditions; a domestic remedy for

coughs and cold. Alcoholic extract

of the whole plant—antibacterial.

Essential oil—antitubercular.

Theoil exhibits antihistaminic property

in vitro on smooth muscles of the

uterus and the intestines. It also possesses

muscle-relaxant action; bactericidal

and fungicidal properties. The


Annona squamosa Linn. 53

leaves contain glucosides of luteolin

and apigenin.

Anisomeles malabarica

(Linn.) R. Br. ex Sims

Family Labiatae; Lamiaceae.

Habitat The western Ghats from

Maharashtra to Karnataka; Andhra

Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

English Malabar Catmint.

Ayurvedic Sprikkaa.

Siddha/Tamil Irattaipeyameratti.

Action Antispasmodic (used

in dyspepsia, colic), antipyretic,

diaphoretic, antiperiodic, emmenagogue,

antirheumatic. The oil is

used externally as an embrocation

in rheumatic arthritis.

The plant contains beta-sitosterol,

letulinic acid, ovatodiolide and anisomelic

acid. The essential oil from

tops and flowers yield a terpene hydrocarbon,

citral and geranic acid.

Annona reticulata Linn.

Family Annonaceae.

Habitat Native to the West Indies.

Cultivated in Bengal, Assam, Khasi

Hills and southern India.

English Bullock's Heart, Common

Custard Apple.

Ayurvedic Raamphala.

Siddha/Tamil Aninuna.

Folk Luvuni.

Action Leaves—insecticide, anthelmintic,

styptic, externally used

as suppurant. Unripe and dried

fruit—antidysenteric. Bark—

powerful astringent, used as

antidysenteric and vermifuge.

Rootbark, leaves andstems gave isoquinoline

alkaloids. Two acetogenins,

annoreticuin and isoannoreticuin, isolated

from the leaves, were found to be

selectively cytotoxic to certain human


The leaves and stems also gave alkaloids—

dopamine, salsolinol and coclaurine.

Annona reticulata, Annona muricata,

Annona squamosa and Annona

cherimola are known as Raamphala,

Lakshman-phala, Sitaa-phala and

Hanumaan-phala, respectively.

Annona squamosa Linn.

Family Annonaceae.

Habitat A native to South America

and theWest Indies; now cultivated

throughout India.

English Custard Apple, Sugar

Apple, Sweet-sop.

Ayurvedic Gandagaatra, Sitaa

phala (also equated with Curcurbita


Unani Sharifaa.

Siddha/Tamil Sitaaphalam, Atta.

Action Leaves—insecticide (seed

powder, mixed with leaf juice is

used for removing lice from scalp).

Seeds—abortifacient. Root—

purgative, used in blood dysentery.


54 Anogeissus latifolia Wall. ex Bedd.

Fruit—invigorating, sedative to

heart, antibilious, antiemetic,

expectorant. Dried, powdered

unripe fruits—used for treating

ulcers. Ripe fruit made into paste

with betel leaves is applied to

tumour to hasten suppuration.

Leaves, bark, unripe fruit—strongly

astringent; used for diarrhoea and


A fraction of total alkaloid from

roots exhibits antihypertensive, antispasmodic,

antihistaminic and bronchodilatory

properties. Leaves contain

a cardiotonic alkaloid, quinoline.

Squamone and bullatacinone were selectively

cytotoxic to human breast carcinoma.

In Cuban medicine, leaves are taken

to reduce uric acid levels.

Anogeissus latifolia

Wall. ex Bedd.

Family Combretaceae.

Habitat Central and southern India.

English Axle-wood, Button tree,

Ghatti tree.

Ayurvedic Dhava, Dhurandhara,

Shakataahya. Indravrksha

(A. acuminata Wall. ex Bedd. is

a related sp. of Dhava).

Unani Dhaawaa.

Siddha/Tamil Vellaynaga.

Folk Ghatti (Gum).

Action Astringent, cooling, used

in diarrhoea, dysentery, ulcers,

piles, urinary disorders and dysuria.

Gum—used as a tonic after delivery.

The leaves, bark and heartwood

yield quinic and shikmik acids; leaves

contain gallotannin (–% of the

tannins). The young leaves and shoots

contain % tannins (dry basis). The

bark contains –% tannins. Heartwood

contains gallic acid, ellagic acid,

itsderivatives, quercetinandmyricetin.

The gum is mainly the calcium salt

of a complex, high molecular weight

polysaccharic acid (ghattic acid). The

gum is a substitute for Gum arabic.

Anthemis nobilis Linn.

Synonym Chamaemelumnobile (L.)


Family Asteraceae.

Habitat The temperate regions of

the Himalayas. Wild at several


English RomanChamomile, Double


Unani Gul-e-Baabuuna.

Siddha/Tamil Shimai chamantipu.

Action Mild sedative, anticonvulsant,

antispasmodic, antiinflammatory,

mild analgesic;

used externally for skin disorders,

poultice of flowers in sprains and


Key application Used mainly

in France for mild spasmodic

gastrointestinal disturbances and

sluggishness of bowels, also for

nervousness. (PDR.) (German

Chamomile has been included

by German Commission E among

approved herbs, whereas Roman


Antiaris toxicaria Lesch. 55

chamomile remains unapproved

due to lack of clinical evidence.)

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

recognizes antispasmodic activity

of Anthemis nobilis.

The flower heads contain volatile

oil (including azulenes and bisabolol);

sesquiterpene lactone (nobilin); flavonoids,

cyanogenic glycoside, bitter glucoside

(anthemic acid); acetylenic salicylic

derivatives, coumarins (including

scopolin), valerianic acid; tannins.

Azulenes and bisabolol are antiinflammatory

and antispasmodic, reducing

histamine-induced reactions,

including hay fever and asthma. Flavonoids,

especially anthemidin, are also

antispasmodic. Valerianic acid and

cyanogenic glycosides are sedative.

Anthocephalus cadamba Miq.

Synonym A. indicus A. Rich.

A. chinensis (Lam.) A. Rich. ex


Family Rubiaceae.

Habitat Assam, Bengal, southwards

to Andhra Pradesh and western


English Kadam.

Ayurvedic Kadamba, Priyaka,

Vrtta-pushpa, Nipa, Halipriya.

Kadambaka is equated with Adina


Siddha/Tamil Venkadambu, Vellai


Action Stembark—febrifugal,

antidiuretic, anthelmintic, hypoglycaemic.

Fruit—cooling; anticatarrhal,

blood purifier, analgesic.

Flowers and root—abortifacient.

Leaves—astringent. A decoction is

used for gargling in stomatitis and


Along with other therapeutic applications,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of dried stembark

in disorders of female genital tract

and bleeding disorders.

The dried bark contains alkaloids,

steroids, reducing sugars and also tannins

(.%). The ether-soluble alkaloid

of the bark shows antibacterial activity.

Dosage Stembark—.–. g

powder. (API Vol. II.)

Antiaris toxicaria Lesch.

Family Moraceae.

Habitat Western Ghats from

Konkan southwards to Trivandrum,

up to  m.

English Sacking tree, Upas tree.

Ayurvedic Valkala vrksha.

Siddha/Tamil Aranthelli, Mara-uri,


Folk Jangali Lakuch, Jasund,


Action Seed—febrifuge, antidysenteric

(in minute doses). Latex—

circulatory stimulant (in minute


The latex contains a series of poisonous

cardenolides, of which alphaand/

or beta-antiarin are themain components.

The total amount of crystalline

cardiac glycosides in the latex


56 Aphanamixis polystachya (Wall.) Parker.

ranges from. to .%; alpha-antiarin

from . to .% and beta-antiarin

from. to .%. Antiarins are said

to act on the heart more powerfully

than digitalin. Beta-antiarin is more

potent than alpha-antiarin.

Latex, in small quantities, is a mild

cardiac and circulatory stimulant,

whereas in large quantities it acts as

a myocardial poison. It stimulates intestinal

and uterine contractions.

As many as  Kedde-positive substances

were reported in the seed sample

from Indonesia. The latex sample

showed the presence of  Keddepositive


Aphanamixis polystachya

(Wall.) Parker.

Synonym Amoora rohituka W. and


Family Meliaceae.

Habitat The sub-Himalayas tracts,

Sikkim, Assam, Bengal, western

Ghats and the Andamans.

Ayurvedic Rohitaka, Daadimachhada,


Plihaghna. Tecoma undulata G.

Don., Bignoniaceae, is also equated

with Rohitaka.

Siddha/Tamil Malampuluvan.

Action Bark—strongly astringent,

used in the diseases of the liver and

spleen, and for tumours, enlarged

glands. Seed oil—used in muscular

pains and rheumatism. All parts

of the plant exhibit pesticidal

activity. Seed extract—antibacterial,


An aqueous extract of the bark,

when injected i.p. in normal guinea

pigs, showed reduction in absolute

lymphocyte count and an increase in

spleen weight. The bark appears to be

an effective immunosuppressive drug

similar to prednisolone.

The stembark contains a limonoid,

ammorinin and a saponin, poriferasterol-


Apium graveolens Linn.

Family Umbelliferae; Apiaceae.

Habitat Native to Europe; cultivated

in northwestern Himalayas and in

hills of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal

Pradesh and southern India.

English Celery.

Ayurvedic Ajmodaa, Ajmoda,

Ajmodikaa, Dipyaka.

Unani Karafs.

Siddha/Tamil Celery-keerai.

Folk Ajmodaa.

Action Anti-inflammatory (used in

rheumatic disorders, inflammation

of the urinary tract), diuretic,

carminative, nervine, sedative,

antiemetic, antispasmodic, antiseptic

(used in bronchitis, asthma, as

well as liver and spleen diseases),

emmenagogue. Essential oil from

seeds—tranquilizer, anticonvulsant,

antifungal. Seeds are used in the

treatment of chronic skin disorders

including psoriasis.

Key application As diuretic. (The

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)


Aquilaria agallocha Roxb. 57

Celery yields an essential oil (%),

major constituent being d-limonene

(%) and phathalides and beta-selinene;

coumarins, furanocoumarins

(bergapten); flavonoids (apiin and apigenin).

Alkaloid fraction of seeds

showed tranquilizing activity in animals.

The phthalides are sedative in

mice and exhibit antiepileptic activity

in rats and mice. The aqueous extract

of the celery has been shown to

reduce adjuvant-induced arthritis in

rats, and to be hypotensive in patients

as well as animals. The tincture of the

plant exhibits drop in blood pressure

accompanied by an increase in urine


Apium leptophyllum

(Pers.) F. Muell. ex Benth.

Family Umbelliferae.

Habitat Native to America; cultivated

in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat,

Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka.

Ayurvedic Ajmodaa, Dipyaka.

Unani Ajmod, Karafs-e-Hindi.

Siddha Omam.

Action See Apium graveolens.

The essential oil contains Meethers

of thymol, carvacrol and thymoquinol;

used as a carminative. The oil shows

strong antifungal activity against Candida

albicans, and moderate activity

against Gram-positive and Gramnegative


Dosage Dried fruit—– g powder.

(API Vol. II.)

Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.

Synonym A. malaccensis Lamk.

Family Thymelaceae.

Habitat The hills of Assam,

Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and


English Aloewood, Eaglewood,


Ayurvedic Aguru, Krimij, Krishnaaguru,

Jongaka, Maaliyaka, Loha,

Kaalaloha, Asitaka.

Unani Ood-ul Hindi, Ood Gharqi.

Siddha/Tamil Akil kattai, Agil.

Action Heartwood—astringent,

carminative, antiasthmatic, antidiarrhoeal,

antidysenteric; used in

gout, rheumatism and paralysis; as

a stimulant in sexual debility; as

a liniment in skin diseases.

The agarwood or eaglewood of commerce

is derived from the fungusinfected

tree through wounds caused

by the species of Aspergillus, Fusarium,

Penicillium, and also by some of Fungi

Imperfecti. Agarwood on distillation

yields an essential oil, known as Agar


The essential oil yields a number

of agarofurans, sesquiterpene alcohols

and spirosesquiterpene alcohols.

The stemwood yields sesquiterpenoids—

gmelofuran and agarol; also

a coumarinolignan—aquillochin.

(Agar is a different drug—extract of

a seaweed, Gelidium Amansii, used as

a mild laxative.)

Dosage Heartwood—– g powder.

(API Vol. IV.)


58 Arachis hypogaea Linn.

Arachis hypogaea Linn.

Family Papilionaceae; Fabaceae

Habitat Native to Brazil, but widely

grown for its pods in southern

India, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

English Groundnut, Peanut,


Ayurvedic Mandapi, Tailamudga,


Unani Moongphali.

Siddha/Tamil Nelakadalai,


Action Kernels—contain protease

inhibitors. Peanut skin—


There is a haemostatic principle in

the peanut flour, which is said to improve

the condition of haemophiliacs.

The protease inhibitor acts on the fibrinolytic

system, primarily as an antiplasmin.

It is reported to form complexes

not only with the enzymes, but

alsowith the corresponding zymogens.

The peanut (red) skin contains bioflavonoids,

which possess vitamin–

P activity; tannins; a lipoxidase and

a protease inhibitor. Capric acid, obtained

from the (red) skin, showed

antifungal activity against Aspergillus


Aralia binnatifida (Seem.) Clarke.

Synonym A. pseudo-ginseng Wall.

ssp. himalaicus Hara.

Family Araliaceae.

Habitat Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan,

Khasi Hills.

Folk Taapamaari (Maharashtra).

Action Stimulant, aphrodisiac,

antipyretic, dyspeptic, expectorant.

Arctium lappa Linn.

Family Compositae; Asteraceae.

Habitat Native to northern Europe;

now found in western Himalayas,

Kashmir and Simla.

English Common or Great Burdock.

Folk Phaggarmuul (Kashmir).

Action Hypoglycaemic (plant

extract caused reduction of blood

sugar with an increase in carbohydrate

tolerance). Roots—inhibitory

of tumour growth, cardiac stimulant,

diuretic, spasmolytic. Leaves

and seeds—anticutaneous (used in

psoriasis, seborrhoic eczema).

Key application As dermatological

agent. (The British Herbal


Important constituents of Burdock

roots are fatty acids, organic acids, phenolic

acids, lignans, sesquiterpenes,

tannin, inulin and mucilage.

Extracts of the fruit are reported to

have hypoglycaemic activity in rats.

Arctigenin (lignan) is a weak inhibitor

of experimental tumour growth. The

antimicrobial properties are due to

polyacetylenes (of the root). The root

exhibits antibiotic activity against

Staphylococcus, and is used for fungal

and bacterial infections. A flavonoid,

arctiin, shows smooth muscle relaxant



Areca catechu Linn. 59

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Spreng.

Family Ericaceae.

Habitat Native to North America,

Europe and Asia.

English Bearberry.

Unani Inbud-dub, Angur-e-khiras,

Reechh Daakh.

Action Astringent, dirutic; used for

urinary tract infections, dysuria,

cystitis, urethritis, pyelitis.

The leaves gave .–% of a flavanol

glucoside, isoquercitin, arbutin and

methyl arbutin. Total arbutin content

varies from . to .%; tannins 

to %. Arbutin hydrolyses to hydroquinone,

a urinary antiseptic.

Arbutin is antimicrobial, but the

crude extract of uva-ursi is more effective

than isolated arbutin. In rats, uvaursi

showed anti-inflammatory activity

against experimentally induced inflammation.

(Natural Medicines comprehensive

Database, .)

Areca catechu Linn.

Family Palmae; Arecaceae.

Habitat Native to Malaysia; now

grown along the coasts ofKarnataka,

Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal,

Assam and Maharashtra.

English Arecanut, Betel Nut.

Ayurvedic Puuga, Puugi, Kramuka,

Ghontaa, Guwaak, Ghorant.

Unani Fufal, Chhaalia, Supaari.

Siddha/Tamil Kottai Paakku,


Action Taeniacide (confined to

veterinary medicine), astringent,


Along with other therapeutic application,

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia

of India indicates the use of dried ripe

seed in leucorrhoea and vaginal laxity.

Arecanut contains several alkaloids

belonging to pyridine group, the most

important being arecoline (.–.%).

Arecaidine, guvacine and isoguvacine

are also present. Arecoline is anthelmintic

(in animals, not in humans).

Arecaidine has no parasympathomimetic

effects, but only stimulating

properties; sedative in higher doses.

Isoguvacine produces hypotension.

Contraindicated in asthma due to

bronchoconstrictive effects of the alkaloid

arecoline (human case reports).

(Francis Brinker.)

Arecanut tannins (.–.%) are

predominantly catechol tannins which

closely resemble Mimosa bark tannins.

Powdered nuts are prescribed in

diarrhoea and urinary disorders. In

combination with other astringent and

styptic herbs, arecanut is used as a major

constituent in confections of Indian

medicine for gynaecological disorders.

Aqueous extract of the nut exhibits

direct vasoconstriction and adrenaline

potentiation in rats. Antimicrobial

activity is due to polyphenolic fraction.

Tannins potentiated the action of

acetylcholine in ileum and uterus of rat

and noradrenaline on seminal vesicle

at low concentration.

Due to increased incidence of oral

cancer associated with betel chewing,

the use of arecanut as a masticatory is

being discouraged.


60 Argemone mexicana Linn.

Seeds are toxic at – g, fluid extract

at . ml; and arecoline hydrobromide

at .–. mg. (Francis Brinker.)

Dosage Dried ripe fruit—– g

powder. (API Vol. I.)

Argemone mexicana Linn.

Family Papaveraceae.

Habitat Native to America;

naturalized throughout India.

English Prickly Poppy, Mexican


Ayurvedic Katuparni, Svarnkshiri,

Kaanchan-kshiri, Pitadugdhaa.

Hemaahvaa, Himaavati, Hemavati.

(Not to be equated with Brahmadandi—

Tricholepis glaberrima.)

Unani Satyaanaashi.

Siddha/Tamil Piramathandu,


Action Seed—responsible for

epidemic dropsy. Causes diarrhoea

and induces toxicity. Oil, leaf

juice and root—used externally for

indolent ulcers and skin diseases.

Theherb contains isoquinoline alkaloids.

The fresh latex contains proteindissolving

constituents and is used externally

to treat warts, tumours and

cancer. Latex contains alkaloid berberine

(.%), protopine (.%) and free

amino acids. Sanguinarine is the toxic

factor in seeds.

Argyreia speciosa Sweet.

Synonym A. nervosa (Burm. f.) Boj.

Family Convolvulaceae.

Habitat Found all over India,

ascending to  m.

English Elephant Creeper.

Ayurvedic Vriddhadaaruka,

Vriddhadaaru, Vriddhadaaraka,

Bastaantri, Sthavira, Sthaviradaaru,

Atarunadaaru, Samudrashosha.

(Seeds of Salvia plebeia R. Br. are

also known as Samudrashosha.)

Unani Samunder sokh.

Siddha/Tamil Ambgar, Samuddirapacchai

Folk Bidhaaraa.

Action Root—aphrodisiac (considered

as a rejuvenator), nervine

(used in diseases of nervous system,

sexual disorders), diuretic

(used in strangury), antirheumatic.

Seeds—hypotensive, spasmolytic.

Leaves—used externally in skin

diseases (ringworm, eczema, boils,

swellings); rubefacient, topically


The seeds contain hallucinogenic

ergoline alkaloids, the main ones being

ergine and isoergine. EtOH (%)

extract of seeds exhibits hypotensive

activity. (Seeds of all species of Argyreia

contain ergoline alkaloids and

are hypotensive.) Leaves of Argyreia

sp. contain sitosterol and are antiphlogistic.

In Indian medicine, A. speciosa is

not used as a single drug for sexual

disorders in men, but as a supporting

drug for exerting its antiphlogistic,

spasmolytic and hypotensive actions

on the central nervous system. The


Aristolochia indica Linn. 61

drug, in itself, did not show anaboliccum-

androgen-like or spermogenetic

activity experimentally.

Ipomoea petaloidea Chois and Ipomoea

biloba Forsk of the Convolvulacae

family are also used as Vriddhadaaru.

InWestern herbalmedicine, Hawaiian

Baby Woodrose is equated with

Argyreia nervosa (synonym Argyreia

speciosa; grows in Florida, California

and Hawaii). The seed is used for pain

relief and as a hallucinogen.

The seeds contain hallucinogens including

ergonovine, isoergine (isolysergic

acid amide) and ergine (lysergic

acid amide). Four to eight seeds

are equivalent to – mcg of LSD,

a potent serotonin-A (-HTA) agonist.

The effects last – h. (NaturalMedicines



Dosage Root—– g powder.


Aristolochia bracteolata Lam.

Synonym A. bracteata Retz.

Family Aristolochiaceae.

Habitat Uttar Pradesh, Bengal,

Madhya Pradesh and western

peninsular India.

English Bracteated Birthwort.

Ayurvedic Kitamaari, Dhumrapatraa,


Unani Kiraamaar.

Siddha/Tamil Aadutheendaappaalai,


Action Oxytocic, abortifacient,


Leaves and fruit contain ceryl alcohol,

aristolochic acid and beta-sitosterol.

Aristolochic acid is insecticidal,

poisonous, nephrotoxic. Leaf juice—

vermifuge. Seeds—strong purgative.

Products containing aristolochic acid

are banned in the U.S., Canada, Great

Britain, European countries and


The seed compounds, aristolochic

acid and magnoflorine, induce contractions

in the isolated uterus of pregnant

rat and stimulate the isolated

ileum of guinea pig. They also activate

the muscarinic and serotonergic

receptors in a variety of organs.

Magnoflorine decreases arterial blood

pressure in rabbits, and induces hypothermia

in mice.

See also A. longa.

Aristolochia indica Linn.

Family Aristolochiaceae.

Habitat Throughout the country,

mainly in the plains and lower hilly


English The Indian Birthwort.

Ayurvedic Ishvari, Gandhnaakuli,

Naagadamani, Arkamuula.

Unani Zaraavand-Hindi.

Siddha/Tamil Adagam.

Folk Isarmuula, Isrola.

Action Oxytocic, abortifacient,


Aristolochia sp. contain aristolochic

acids and aristolactams.


62 Aristolochia longa Linn.

Aristolochia longa Linn.

Family Aristolochiaceae.

English European Birthwort.

Unani Zaraawand Taweel.

Action Oxytocic, abortifacient,


Aristolochic acid and its Me ester—

strongly abortifacient, showed

damage to liver and kidney. Roots—

anti-oestrogenic. A cytotoxic lignan,

savinin, has been isolated from the


Aristolochic acid also has an effect

against adenosarcoma and HeLa cells

in culture; however, it is suspected to

be carcinogenic.

Aristolochia extracts show a pronounced

enhancement of phagocytosis

by leucocytes, granulocytes and peritoneal

macrophages, due to the presence

of aristolochic acids.

Tardolyt-coated tablets, which contain

. mg of aristolochic acid, increase

phagocytosis in healthy men.

Aristolochic acid also exhibits reduction

of some of the toxic effects

of prednisolone, chloramphenicol and

tetracycline in experiments in vitro,

and a reduction in the rate of recurrent

herpes lesions in vivo.

Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib.

Synonym A. rusticana Gaertn et al.

Family Cruciferae; Brassicaceae.

Habitat Native to Europe; grown

in gardens in northern India and in

hill stations of southern India.

English Horseradish.

Action Circulatory stimulant,

diaphoretic, diuretic, antibiotic.

Used for both urinary and respiratory

tract infections. Root—liver,

spleen and pancreatic stimulant;

an alternative to Cayenne pepper;

urinary antiseptic; diuretic; used

in the treatment of gout, increases

excretion of uric acid; also for

proteinura and vaginal discharges.

An infusion is used for hepatitis.