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Shankhpushpi

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Shankhpushpi is botanically termed as Evolvulus alsinoides. It is also known as Convolvulus pluricaulis. It belongs to the family Convolvulaceae; it is a perennial herb with a small woody and branched rootstock. Its branches are annual, numerous, more than 30 cm long, slender and wiry with long hairs. Three varieties of flowers are obtained such as white, reddish and bluish. The whole Shankhpushpi plant is used for its medicinal properties.
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Botanical Names
Evolvulus alsinoides
Indian Names
Sanskrit :Vishnukrantha, Vishnugrandi Hindi : Vishnukrantha Malayalam : Vishnukranthi, Krsnakranthi Tamil : Vishnukiranthi Bengali : Dankuni Gujrati : Shankhphuli Marathi : Shankhpushpi
Chemical Constituents
The plant contains alkaloids such as betaine, shankhapushpine, B-sitosterol and evolvine. Fresh plant contains volatile oil. Theses compounds help brain stimulation and increase the ability to concentrate. Early phytochemical studies of this species resulted in the isolation and identification of chemical constituents such as triacontane, pentatriacontane, b -sitosterol and two alkaloidsbetaine and shankpushpin. Four unidentified alkaloids A, B, C and evolvine have also been described. Further phytochemical investigation led to the isolation of two new compounds evolvoids A and B (2). Flavonol-4′-glycoside, kaempferol 4′-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1 → 2)-β-D-glucopyranoside and kaempferol 4′-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1 → 6)-β-D-glucopyranoside were also isolated. These components have shown significant in vitro antioxidant activity. Therefore, Evolvulus alsinoids may hold great potential in preventing clinical deterioration in stress induced oxidative load and related disorders. Four substances isolated from the ethanol extract of E. alsinoides. They were identified as scopoletin, umbelliferone, scopolin and 2-methyl-1, 2, 3, 4-butanetetrol.
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, 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.
Pharmacology
Evolvulus alsinoides is well known as brain-tonic in traditional systems of medicine. In Ayurveda, the plant is known as Shankhpushpi. Evolvulus alsinoides is known for its memory enhancement, antiepileptic and immuno modulatory properties. It improves brain function like memory and concentration. Clinical-studies have justified the potential use of E. alsinoides in treating dementia, and the ancient claim of ‘brain-tonic’. Thus it has been used to treat Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. The plant is used across India, Africa and Philippines to cure fever, cough and cold, venereal diseases, adenitis, and depression. Pre-clinical investigations have demonstrated it’s anti-amnesic, anti stress (adaptogenic), antimicrobial and gastro protective activities. It can also be used to treat skin diseases (3, 4)
Health Benefits
In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the whole herb of 'Shankhpushpi' has been employed clinically for centuries for its memory potentiating and anxiolytic properties. The scientific study was undertaken to investigate the effects of Evolvulus alsinoides, on learning and memory in rodents which shows positive results. This plant is used in traditional medicine in East Asia, India, Africa and Philippines to cure fever, cough, cold, venereal diseases, and dementia. It has a known to possesses nootropic and anti-inflammatory activity (5). Several other uses reported for this plant include its ability to boost memory and improve intellect, immunomodulatory, adaptogenic as well as anti-oxidant properties. Evolvulus alsinoides is used in the Philippines to cure certain bowel irregularities and as a vermifuge and febrifuge. Infusion of roots, stalks and leaves are all used in Nigeria as stomachic (6). This herb is a preferred method or a solution for reducing symptoms associated with anxiety, panic attacks, nervousness and insomnia. It is also very useful in urinary disorders and hypertension. Evolvulus alsinoides is well known for its memory enhancing property in traditional Indian system of medicine and extensively commercialized as nervin tonic in Asian countries. Evolvulus alsinoides extracts have exhibited antioxidant, anti-ulcer, and immunomodulatory activities. In addition, recently scientific research has disclosed adaptogenic and anti-amnesic properties of ethanolic extract of Evolvulus alsinoides. The anti-stress activity of compounds was evaluated in acute stress induced biochemical changes in adult male Sprague–Dawley rats (7).
Research References
1. Madhavan V., Yoganarasimhan S. N. and Gurudeva M. R. Pharmacognostical studies on Shankhpushpi (Convovulus microphyllus sieb. And Evolvulus alsinoids ). Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 2008, 7(4):529-541 2. OMOGBAI B. A. and EZE, F. A. PHYTOCHEMICAL SCREENING AND SUSCEPTIBILITY OF BACTERIA PATHOGENS TO EXTRACTS OF Evolvulus alsinoides Science World Journal 2011 6 (1):1-4 3. Prasoon G., AKANKSHA,Kiran B.S., Ausaf A., Gautam P., Ashish A. and Rakesh M.Anti-stress Constituents of Evolvulus alsinoides: An Ayurvedic Crude Drug Chem. Pharm. Bull. 55(5) 771—775 (2007) 4. Vijayan M. N., Barreto I., Dessai S., Dhuri S., D’ Silva R. and Rodrigues A. 2362Antimicrobial activity of ten common herbs, commonly known as ‘Dashapushpam’ from Kerala, India African Journal of Microbiology Research 4(22):2357- 5. Kiran B.,Siripurapu, Prasoon G., Gitika B., Rakesh M., Chandishwar N., and Gautam P.Adaptogenic and anti-amnesic properties of Evolvulus alsinoides in rodents Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 2005 81(3):424-432 6. Nahata A, Patil U.K and Dixit V.K. Effect of Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. on learning behavior and memory enhancement activity in rodents. Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):486-93. 7. Alok N., U.K. Patil and V.K. Dixit Anxiolytic activity of Evolvulus alsinoides and Convulvulus pluricaulis in rodents 2009, 47(5):444-451 8. Frantisek C., Vit K., Zuzana R., Ludek J., Jiri K., Lubomir O., Radomir H., Daniel J. and Kamil K.Evaluation of natural substances from Evolvulus alsinoides L. with the purpose of determining their antioxidant potencyJournal of enzyme inhibition and medicinal chemistry. 23(4):574-8
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