Anantamul (Hemidesmus indicus)

Botanical Name : Hemidesmus indicus
Species:H. indicus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Vernacular Name: Sans-Sariba ,Hind –Anantamula , Eng- Indian sarasaparilla

Habitat:Hemidesmus indicus was found plentiful in Patalkot forest in India. This herb is having much significance in a common tribal life.Grows well in tropical humid climate and available in India,Pakistan,Burma. Bungladesh and Sri Lanka.

Description:  Hemidesmus indicus is a climber shrubby and long rooted plant.It is a slender, laticiferous, twining, sometimes prostrate or semi-erect shrub. Roots are woody and aromatic. The stem is numerous, slender, terete, thickened at the nodes. The leaves are opposite, short-petioled, very variable, elliptic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. The flowers are greenish outside, purplish inside, crowded in sub-sessile axillary cymes. It is occurs over the greater part of India, from the upper Gangetic plain eastwards to Assam and in some places in central, western and South India.

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The root is a substitute for sarsaparilla (the dried root of the tropical species of Smilax, Smilacaceae; in India Smilax aspera L., and Smilax ovalifolia Roxb.). It should be distinguished from American Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochaefolia Mill and Jamaican Sarsaparilla Smilax ornata Hook.f. (Puri 2003)

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Taxonomic description: A perennial prostrate or twining shrub; root-stock woody, thick, rigid, cylindrical; bark brownish corky, marked with longitudinal furrows and transverse fissures, with aromatic smell. Stems woody, slender, thickened at the nodes. Leaves opposite, petiolate, much variable, linear to broadly lanceolate, acute or ovate, entire, smooth, shining, dark green, later variegated with white above. Flowers in racemes or cymes in opposite axils, small, green outside, purple within; corolla tubular. Fruit of two follicles, long, slender, tapering, spreading. Seeds with silvery white coma. Fl.: almost throughout the year.

Chemical Constituents:
The roots of H. indicus contain hexatriacontane, lupeol, its octacosanoate, ?-amyrin, ?-amyrin, its acetate and sitosterol. It also contains new coumarino-lignoid-hemidesminine, hemidesmin I and hemidesmin II50, six pentacyclic triterpenes including two oleanenes, and three ursenes. The stem contains calogenin acetylcalogenin-3-0-?-D-digitoxopyrannosyl-0-?-D-digitoxopyronsyl-0-?-D-digitoxopyranoside. It also afforded 3-keto-lup-12-en-21 28-olide along with lupanone, lupeol-3-?-acetate, hexadecanoic acid, 4-methoxy-3-methoxybenzalaldehyde and 3-methoxy-4-5methoxybenzalaldehydglycosides-indicine and hemidine. The leaves contain tannins, flavonoids, hyperoside, rutin and coumarino. Leucoderma lignoids such as hemidesminine, hemidesmin I and hemidesmin II are rare group of naturally occurring compounds present in leaves

Medicinal uses: The plant enjoys a status as tonic, alterative, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic and blood purifier. It is employed in nutritional disorders, syphilis, chronic rheumatism, gravel and other urinary diseases and skin affections. It is administered in the form of powder, infusion or decoction as syrup. It is also an component of several medicinal preparations. It is used as a alternate for Sarsaparilla (from Smilax spp.) and employed as a vehicle for potassium iodide and for purposes for which Sarsaparilla is used. Syrup prepared from the roots is used as a flavoring agent and in the preparation of a sherbet which have cooling properties.

As medicine ˜Anantmoolâ  holds a reputed place in all systems of medicine in India. The roots are used as addition in main treatment of snakebite and scorpion sting. It improves the general health; plumpness, clearness, and strength, succeeding to emaciation, said to be useful in affections of the kidneys, scrofula, cutaneous diseases, thrush, rheumatism, scrofula, skin diseases, venereal disease, nephritic complaints, for sore mouths of children, syphilis, gonorrhea and appetite.

Hemidesmus root is said to be tonic, diuretic, and alterative. The native healers in India are said to use it in nephritic complaints, syphilis and in the sore mouth of children (Joseph et al., 1918). It promotes health and energy and always cures all kinds of diseases caused by vitiated blood (Pioneerherbs, 2005). The plant is said to be alterative, depurative, diaphoretic, tonic, used in autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic skin disorders, asthma, bronchitis, gonorrheal neuralgia, syphilis, venereal diseases, nephritic complaints, scrofula, chronic skin diseases, ulcers etc. (Globalherbal, 2005).

According to Ayurveda, root is cooling, aphrodisiac, antipyretic, alexiteric, antidiarrhoeal, astringent to bowels and useful in treatment of fevers, foul body odour, asthma, bronchitis, blood disorders, leucorrhoea, dysentery, diarrhoea, thirst, burning sensation, piles, eye troubles, epileptic fits, poisoning, rat bites etc. According to Unani system of medicine, root and stem are laxative, diaphoretic, diuretic and useful in treatment of syphilis and leucoderma. Roots are useful in hemicrania, joint pains and syphilis whereas stem is good in treatment of brain, lever and kidney related diseases. It is also useful in treatment of urinary discharges, uterine complaints, paralysis, cough, asthma etc. In central India, a special “Herbal Mala” is made from the root pieces of Anantmool and Semal (Bombax ceiba) which is used in the treatment of Marasmus. They also prepare a special herbal tea from bark and give twice a day for treatment of impurities of blood. Sometimes ‘Kevatch’ (Mucuna pruriens) and ‘Gokhru’ (Tribulus terrestris) are also added in this mixture. The natives use the roots internally in treatment of premature graying of hairs, jaundice, eye related diseases. A decoction is prepared by adding roots of anantmool, Vetiveria zizanioides, dried ginger, Cyperus rotundus and Holarrhena antidysenterica for the treatment of chronic fever and appetite. To take away extra heat from body, root powder is fried in ghee and given to the patients for up to one month. The root is also used with cow milk for treatment of renal calculi.

The root is an alterative tonic, diuretic, demulcent, diaphoretic and carminative. It is said to be good for gout, rheumatism, colds, fevers and catarrhal problems as well as for relieving flatulence, skin problems, scrofula and ringworms. It is blood purifier and said to be promoting health and cure all kinds of diseases caused by vitiated blood. It is useful in venereal diseases, herpes, skin diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, gout, epilepsy, insanity, chronic nervous diseases, abdominal distention, intestinal gas, debility, impotence and turbid urine in Ayurvedic system. It also purifies the urino-genital tract, blood and helps cleanse the mind of negative emotions; therefore it is useful in many nervous disorders.
It promotes health and vigor. Decoction of stalks and leaves is used for skin eruptions, hearing disorders, fevers etc. Root decoction helps in skin diseases, syphilis, elephantiasis, loss of sensation, hemiplegia, loss of appetite, blood purification and for kidney and urinary disorders (herbsforever, 2005).

The roots are used by the tribals India to cure gonorrhoea, leucoderma, bleeding piles, jaundice and dysentery. Powdered root is used in pre and post-natal care. The tribals of Rajasthan use the paste of roots in scorpion sting.

Other Uses:
Syrup is prepared for flavoring medicinal mixtures; found in many medical and cosmetic facial packs. It is often called ‘Sugandha’ because of the wonderful fragrance of its roots.Roots and in some cases whole plants are used as medicine. To cure abdominal tumors this plants is very effective. Its root is used as alterative, purgative, various skin diseases and chronic rheumatism.

Chemical Components: The flavanoid glycosides recognized in the flowers, were hyperoside, isoquercitin and rutin whereas in the leaves, only hyperoside and rutin were identified (Subramaniam & Nair, 1968). Tannins 2.5 % present in leaves; roots are reported to contain sitoserol (Chatterjee & Bhattacharya, 1955). A new ester identified as lupeol octacosanoate in addition to the known compounds viz., lupeol, (-amyrin, (-amyrin, lupeol acetate, (-amyrin acetate, and hexatriacontane (Pioneerherbs, 2005). Coumarins, triterpenoid saponins, essential oil, starch, tannic acid, triterpenoid saponins present (Globalherbal, 2005). A stearopten smilasperic acid is also obtained by distillation with water (Joseph et al., 1918).

Pharmacology: The herb is mildly immuno-suppressant. The aqueous, alcoholic and steam distilled fractions of the crushed roots had no significant diuretic activity. The 50% ethanolic extract of the whole plant did not exhibit any effect on respiration, normal blood pressure and also on pressor response to adrenaline and depressor response to acetylalcholine and histamine in experimental animals. The extract also had no antispasmodic effect on guinea pig ileum. A saponin from the plant is found to have antiinflammatory activity against formalin induced edema (Pioneerherbs, 2005).

The antioxidant activity of methanolic extract of H. indicus root bark is evaluated in several in vitro and ex vivo models. Preliminary phytochemical analysis and TLC fingerprint profile of the extract was established to characterize the extract which showed antioxidant properties (Ravishankara et al., 2002).

As per Ayurveda:The roots are bitter, sweet, cooling, aromatic, refrigerant, emollient, depurative, carminative, appetizer, diaphoretic, expectorant.

Useful in vitiated pitta, burning sensation, leucoderma,leprosy, skin diseases, pruritis, asthma, opthalmopathy, hyperdipsia, hemicrania, epileptic fits, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, haemorrhoids, leucorrhoea, syphilis, abscess, arthralgia, nad general debility.

Leaves are useful in vomiting, wounds, leucoderma
Stems are bitter, diaphoretic, laxative useful in unflammations, cerebropathy, hepatopathy, nephropathy, syphilis, leucoderma, odontalgia, cough, asthma.
Latex is good for conjunctivitis.
Modern studies have confirmed the antibacterial activity of the root extract and essential oil. Clinical trials have shown a benefit in ringworm infection and for malnutrition. The clinically used doses are considered safe and beneficial, but overdose can be toxic (kalyx, 2005). Hemidesmus indicus has been shown to have significant activity against immunotoxicity and other pharmacological and physiological disorders (Sultana et al., 2003).

Conclusion: A few decades back the herb was very common in this region but due to its heavy demand, the natural population is decreasing at an upsetting rate. The herb has become almost wiped out in these parts. Researchers and state authorities should give special attention on this problem. The herb growers should start its commercial cultivation.

Extreme commercial collection of medicinal plants from their natural habitat due to the growing demand for herbal cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries may be a result of failure of plant populations. Collection of medicinal plants from their natural habitat is cost-effective than farming. One has to obtain land, fertilizers and other required material for cultivation. Medicinal plants growing in natural habitat are known to have organic value. Harvest of such medicinal plants are rarely reported or monitored. Local people should be encouraged for conservational activities. In other way, there is a larger need of a ‘community-based’ approach in protection. Consciousness among the local community is one the most important job. For this, various activities like poster presentation, campaigns, educational pamphlets and slogans can be useful. A society can be made in the villages that will look after the conservation of important medicinal and economical plants. Universities, Colleges, NGOs and other agencies should come ahead and take up a village of their own region. These organizations can play a essential role in conservation of significant medicinal plant. A medicinal plant garden/ herbal garden and green house can be prepared in the village itself. At one side there is need of Ex-situ and in-situ conservation, on the other hand, preservation of traditional Ethno-medicinal-botanic knowledge is highly desirable. Local healers of targeted region should be given support time to time.

This plant is believed as most vital herb. The whole series of traditional medicines and plants, which have been in use for thousands of years, will be threatened if plants like H. indicus are allowed to become damaged through excessive collection. It is therefore need of the hour to come ahead and save this key herb of Patalkot. Active contribution from everyone is highly desired specially people from Chhindwara district.

Cultivation method: Usually it is propagated through vegetative organs.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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