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Asteracantha longifolia is a plant in the Acanthus family. It is native to India and commonly known as marsh barbel, gokulakanta and gokhulakanta. In India, its seeds, roots, and panchang are used as a medication in Ayurveda. Asteracantha longifolia is a spiny herb 2-4’ height, found in moist places through our India and Ceylon. With water its seeds develop a large amount of tenacious mucilage.

Listing Details

Botanical Names
Asteracantha longifolia
Indian Names
Hindi : Gokhulakanta, Kailaya Malayalam : Bahel-sohulli, Vayalchulli Sanskrit : Atichhatra, Vajra Tamil : Neremulli, Nirmulli Urdu : Talimakhana Telugu : Gobbi, Neerugobbi Kannada : Kalavankabija
Chemical Constituents
Literature survey on the chemical investigations of the plant shows the presence of the following constituents. Plant contains a phytosterol essential oil. Diuretic properties of the seeds are due to large amount of mucilage and potassium salts, seeds also contain 23% of yellow semi-drying oil. Diastase, lipase, protease and an alkaloid were isolated from the seeds. Asterol I, II, III and IV, Asteracanthine and Asteracanthicine were also isolated from the seeds. An alkaloid and lupeol were also isolated from the whole plant. Lupeol and stigmatsterol were isolated from the plant. Studies on amino acid composition of the seeds revealed that the protein content is higher than that of peanuts and the histidine, lysine and pheny alanine content of the protein are higher than that in peanut protein. The scientific studies have showed the presence of apigenin 7-glucuronide12 in the fresh flowers (2).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Asteracantha longifolia is a source of the Ayurvedic drug Kokilaaksha and the Unani drug Talimakhana. Asteracantha longifolia is a wild herb commonly used in traditional ayurvedic medicine. It possesses various medicinal uses as aphrodisiac, tonic, sedative and blood diseases etc. The seeds are acrid, bitter, aphrodisiac, tonic, sedative, and useful in diseases of the blood. Seeds are gelatinous, febrifuge, rejuvenating and nervine tonic. Roots are sweet, sour, bitter, refrigerant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, haemopoictic, hepato protective and tonic. Leaves are haemopoictic, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic, anti diabetic, stomachic, ophthalmic, and diuretic in action. Results of scientific studies indicate that the aqueous extract of Asteracantha longifolia possesses hepatoprotective effects on CCl4- and paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in mice (3, 4). Roots are useful in inflammations, hyperdipsia, jaundice and vesical calculi. It is also used in flatulence and dysentery. Leaves are used in hepatic obstruction, jaundice, arthritis, rheumatism and diseases of urinogenital tract. An ethanolic extract of talimkhana effectively restored the hematological parameters, serum iron and serum protein and normalized the microcytic, anisocytosis and hypochromic RBCs. These observations could justify the inclusion of this plant in the management of iron deficiency anemia due to the presence of iron and other constituents as flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, lupeol and betulin (5, 6).
Health Benefits
Asteracantha longifolia is described in ayurvedic literature as Kokilasha. It is used for the treatment of diabetes, dysentery etc. The leaves of Asteracantha longifolia have been used in the Indian system of medicine for a number of diseases, besides diabetes. The roots, seeds and ashes of the plant are extensively used in traditional system of medicine for various ailments like jaundice, hepatic obstruction, rheumatism, inflammation, pain, urinary infections, edema and gout. The plant is known to possess antitumor, hypoglycemic, antibacterial, free radical scavenging and lipid per-oxidation activities (7). It is useful in flatulence and other stomach related diseases. It is useful in anemia and for treating blood diseases. It is used to lower the blood sugar level. Seeds are used in burning sensation, fever and headaches. It is also used in diarrhea and dysentery. A decoction of the roots is used as a diuretic and to treat rheumatism, gonorrhea, and other diseases of the genito-urinary tract, jaundice and anasarca. Asteracantha longifolia is applied in dropsy, rheumatism, anasarca etc., show the pharmacognostic characters. Alloxan induced diabetic rats were treated with aqueous extract of Asteracantha longifolia and its influence on glucose level, insulin, hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, serum total cholesterol, levels of pancreas enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant enzymes were observed. Asteracantha longifolia leaf extracts may be proving to be effective in the treatment of diabetes mellitus owing to its ability to increase insulin secretion and enhance the antioxidant activity (8).
Research References
1. Thankamma RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND ASTERACANTHA LONGIFOLIA Ancient Science of Life, 18 (3&4):1-3, 1999 2. Muthulingam M. Antidiabetic efficacy of leaf extracts of Asteracantha longifolia (Linn.) Nees. on alloxan induced diabetics in male albino wistar rats. Int J Pharm Biomed Res 2010, 1(2), 28-34 3. Panigrahi J., Mishra R. R. and Behera M. Invitro multiplication of Asteracantha longifolia (L.) Nees-A medicinal herb. Indian Journal of Biotechnology, 2006, 5:562-564. 4. Shanmugasundaram P. and Venkataraman S. ANTI-NOCICEPTIVE ACTIVITY OF HYGROPHILA AURICULATA (SCHUM) HEINE Afr. J. Trad. CAM (2005) 2 (1): 62- 69 5. Arjun P., Shivesh J., Narasimha M., Aher V. D., Pronobesh C., Ghanshyam P. and Devdeep R. Anti-Inflammatory and Antipyretic Activities of Hygrophila spinosa T. Anders Leaves (Acanthaceae) Research Article Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, April 2009; 8 (2): 133-137 6. WILLIAM A. J. VON HYGROPHILA.A SPINOSA (VEL ASTERACANTHA LONGIFOLIA). The British Medical Journal. 7. Sunita S. and Abhishek S. A comparative Evaluation of Phytochemical Fingerprints of Asteracantha lingifolia Nees. Using HPTLC. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences 7(6):611-614, 2008 8. Pawar R. S., Jain A. P., Kashaw S. and Singhai A. Effect of Asteracantha longifola on Haematological Parameters in Rats. Indian J Pharmacol, 2006 38(4):285-286

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