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Saptaparna

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Alstonia scholaris belongs to the family Apocynaceae. It is commonly called Blackboard tree, Indian devil tree. It is an evergreen, tropical tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Alstonia scholaris is a small tree that grows up to 40 m tall and is glabrous. The bark is grayish; branch lets are copiously lenticellate. The upper side of the leaves is glossy, while the underside is grayish. Leaves occur in whorls of 3-10; petioles are 1–3 cm. The flowers are very fragrant. Seeds of A. scholaris are oblong, with ciliated margins, and ends with tufts of hairs 1.5–2 cm. The bark is almost odorless and very bitter, with abundant bitter and milky sap. Alstonia scholaris whole plant and with flowers
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Botanical Names
Alstonia scholaris
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Saptaparni Hindi : Satyin Gujarati : Satvin, Saptaparni Marathi : Satvin Bengali : Chhatim Kannada : Elleleg Tamil : Ezilai pillai Malayalam : Daivappala
Chemical Constituents
Alstonia scholaris is an evergreen tropical tree native to Indian sub-continent and South East Asia, having grayish rough bark and milky sap rich in poisonous alkaloid. It is reported to contain various iridoids, alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, leucoanthocyanins, reducing sugars, simple phenolics, steroids, saponins and tannins. The phytochemical screening revealed the presence of tannins, proteins, phenols and steroids in aqueous extracts of both leaf and bark of the plant. Butanol extract also showed moderate presence of the phytochemicals in the preliminary screening. The bark contains the alkaloids ditamine, echitenine and echitamine and used to serve as an alternative to quinine. The active compounds include alkaloids, flavonoids etc. These are present in all parts of the plant. The aqueous extract of bark of Alstonia scholaris subjected to preliminary phytochemical investigation showed presence of alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, glycosides and triterpenoids (1).
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
Pharmacology
It has been reported to possess antimicrobial, anti amoebic, anti diarrheal, anti plasmodial, hepatoprotective, immuno-modulatory, anticancer, anti-asthmatic, free radical scavenging, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anti-fertility and wound healing activities. In other parts of the world, it is used as a source cure against bacterial infection, malarial fever, toothache, rheumatism, snakebite, dysentery, bowl disorder, etc. The bark is bitter, astringent, digestive, laxative, anti-helmintic, antipyretic, stomachic, cardiotonic and tonic. The bark extract has been reported to posses’ anti-plasmodial, immuno-stimulant, anticancer effect and is also hepatoprotective. In India the bark of Alstonia scholaris is used solely for medicinal purposes, ranging from malaria and epilepsy to skin conditions and asthma. Extracts prepared from the plant has been reported to possess cytotoxic activity. An ethanol extract of the bark of Alstonia scholaris enhanced the anticancer activity of berberine in the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma-bearing mice. This extract also showed cytotoxic activity to HeLa cells. It contains echitamine and loganin as major compounds and could potentially be used as an anti-irritation agent. The bark of the plant is most extensively used part and is reported to have anticancer properties by the people of different cultures and civilizations like India. The alcoholic extract of Alstonia scholaris has been recently reported to be antineoplastic and chemo preventive (2).
Health Benefits
Alstonia scholaris is a popular remedy in India for the treatment of various types of disorders in both the Ayurvedic and folklore systems of medicine. It is commonly known as the devil’s tree and it has been widely used in the traditional system of medicine, reported to be of immense use in the treatment of various ailments. The decoction of Alstonia scholaris bark has been used as a folk medicine in coastal part of Karnataka to treat cold and other ailments like fever. In Ayurveda it is used as a bitter and as an astringent herb for treating skin disorders, malarial fever, urticaria, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, in snake bite. At one time, a decoction of the bark was used to treat diarrhoea and malaria, as a tonic, febrifuge, emmenagogue, anticholeric and vulnerary. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat beriberi. Ayurveda recommends A. scholaris for bowel complaints (3). The bark is useful in malarial fevers, abdominal disorders, dyspepsia and in skin diseases. In Ayurveda, it is reported that the bark of the plant when soaked in water overnight, can reduce the blood glucose level after oral administration however no much characterization of this activity has been done on scientific basis. The phytochemicals are indicative of its potential in the treatment of diabetes mellitus hence we undertook the present work to study the chronic antidiabetic effect and antihyperlipidemic effect of the bark extract in healthy and streptozotocin diabetic rats with the objective to focus on mechanism underlying the activity (4).
Research References
1. Pawan K., Dhirender K., Neha S. and Rana A. C. Alstonia scholaris: It's Phytochemistry and pharmacology Review Article 2011, 2(2):71-78 2. Vaidyanatha I. T. Phyto chemical screening and antimicrobial activity of Alstonia scholaris flowers (L) R. BR. FAM:Apocyanaceae. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (IJPRD), 2011, 3(4):172-178 3. Gupta U., Chaudhary R. and Goyal P. K. Post-treatment effects of Alstonia scholaris extract against radiation-induced biochemical alterations in Swiss albino mice Iran. J. Radiat. Res., 2010; 8 (3): 169-177 4. Deepti B., Archana J. and Manasi J. Antidiabetic and Antihyperlipidemic Effect of Alstonia scholaris Linn Bark in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India Ind J Pharm Edu Res, 2011, 45(2):114-121