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Ficus religiosa is a large evergreen tree found throughout India, wild as well as cultivated. Ficus religiosa is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 meters tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 meters. The leaves are cordate in shape with a distinctive extended tip; they are 10–17 cm long and 8–12 cm broad, with a 6–10 cm petiole. The fruit is a small fig 1-1.5 cm diameter, green ripening to purple.
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Botanical Names
Ficus religiosa
Indian Names
Bengali : Asbattha, Peepal Kannada : Arali mara Malayalam : Arayal Marathi : Pimpal Sanskrit : Pippala vruksha Tamil : Kanavam Telugu : Raavi Gujarati : Pipdo
Chemical Constituents
Preliminary phytochemical screening of F. religiosa barks, showed the presence tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides. The barks of F. religiosa showed the presence of bergapten, bergaptol, lanosterol, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, lupen-3-one, β-sitosterol-d-glucoside (phytosterolin), vitamin k. The bark also contains tannin, wax, saponin, β-sitosterol, leucocyanidin-3-0-β-D-glucopyrancoside, leucopelargonidin- 3-0-β-D-glucopyranoside, leucopelargonidin-3-0-α-L- rhamnopyranoside, lupeol, ceryl behenate, lupeol acetate, α-amyrin acetate, leucoanthocyanidin and leucoanthocyanin. Leaves yield campestrol, stigmasterol, isofucosterol, α-amyrin, lupeol, tannic acid, arginine, serine, aspartic acid, glycine, threonine, alanine, proline, tryptophan, tryosine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, n-nonacosane, n-hentricontanen, hexa-cosanol and n-octacosan. The fruit of F. religiosa contains asgaragine, tyrosine, undecane, tridecane, tetradecane, (e)-β-ocimene, α- thujene, α-pinene, β-pinene, α-terpinene, limonene, dendrolasine, dendrolasine α-ylangene, α- copaene, β-bourbonene, β-caryophyllene, α-trans bergamotene, aromadendrene, α-humulene, alloaromadendrene, germacrene, bicyclogermacrene, γ-cadinene and δ-cadinene. Alanine, threonine, tyrosine have been reported in seeds of F. religiosa. The crude latex of F. religiosa shows the presence of a serine protease, named religiosin. Religiosin is an acidic (1). Phytochemical investigation of plant barks, showed the presence tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides.
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
In traditional system of medicine, various parts such as stem bark, root bark aerial roots, vegetative buds, leaves, fruits and latex are used in diabetes, vomiting, burns, gynaecological problems, dysentery, nervous disorders and astringent. Ficus religiosa is a well known ethnomedicinal tree used in Ayurveda (1). Ficus religiosa possess a wide range of pharmacological activities. Among various pharmacological properties, Ficus religiosa imparts an important role in Central Nervous System. Scientific study provides the evidence of drug in neuroprotection indicates that the methanol extract of stem bark of Ficus religiosa inhibited the acetylcholine esterase activity and results in increase generation of acetylcholine, as decreased level of Ach are marker of various neurodegenerative disorders. Further, the aqueous aerial root extract of Ficus religiosa possess anticonvulsant activity through the glycenergic pathway as it increased the inhibitory effect of glycine at all glycine receptors. Ficus religiosa also found to exhibit anti-ulcerogenic potential by decreasing the level of malon dialdehyde, superoxide dismutase. Morover, it has been found that Ficus religiosa exhibit antidiabetic activity by increasing the serum insulin level, body weight and glycogen content and also shown anti lipid peroxidative effect against streptozotocin induced diabetic rats (2).
Health Benefits
Ficus religiosa has been extensively used in traditional medicine for a wide range of ailments. Its bark, fruits, leaves, roots, latex and seeds are medicinally used in different forms, sometimes in combination with other herbs. The leaves alone are used to treat constipation. The leaves used together with young shoots are act as strong laxative. In Nepal leaf juice with honey is used for multipurpose such as for diarrhoea, asthma, cough, toothache, and migraine, in gastric problems and in haematuria. In addition, the leaves of Ficus religiosa have also shown significant memory enhancing activity. The Bark is cooling and astringent and is useful in inflammation and glandular swellings of neck. The paste of powdered bark is used in cases of anal fistula and as absorbent for inflammatory swellings and also used in burns. The bark of Ficus religiosa is reported to possess antiulcer and wound healing activities. It is used in diabetes, diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, anxiety, for vaginal and other urinogenital disorders and to improve the complexion. The seeds and fruits are digestive, laxative and refrigerant. The dried fruit, pulverized and taken in water for a fortnight removes asthma. The ripe fruit is cold in potency and good for burning sensation. It act as cardiac tonic and is useful to cure the diseases of Vagina. It also cures vomiting, anorexia and edema (3, 4). The bark of Ficus religiosa is used externally in various skin lesions like eczema. The powdered bark is used in cases of anal fistula and inflammatory swellings. It is also sprinkled over ulcers and wounds (5). Its bark is used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of diabetes. Its stem bark contains sitosterol -D-glucoside and root bark contains phytosterolin due to which it has anti-diabetic activity. Its fruits and leaves contain flavonoids and leaves also contain sterols. Flavonoids and sterols are known to possess antidiabetic activity in various other plant species. So, it was thought that fruits and leaves may also possess antidiabetic and anti-oxidant activities (6).
Research References
1. Inder K. M., Indra P. S. and Devang K. Phytochemistry and Pharmacological properties of Ficus religiosa: an overview. Annals of Biological Research, 2010, 1 (4): 171-180 2. Amandeep K., Rana A. C., Vineeta T., Ramica S. and Sunil K. Review on Ethanomedicinal and Pharmacological Properties of Ficus religiosa Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science. 2011, 01(08):06-11 3. Panchawat S. and Sisodia S. S. COMPARISON OF FREE RADICAL SCAVENGING ACTIVITY OF FICUS RELIGIOSA LINN. STEM BARK EXTRACTS PREPARED BY DIFFERENT METHODS OF EXTRACTION Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology 4(2):163-166 (2010) 4. SAWARKAR H. A., MUKESH K. S., AJIT K. P. and DEEPAK B. IN VITRO ANTHELMINTIC ACTIVITY OF FICUS BENGHALENSIS, FICUS CARICA & FICUS RELIGIOSA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2011, 3(2):152-153 5. VISWANATHAN S., THIRUGNANASAMBANTHAM P., KANNAPPA R., NARASIMHAN S. and ANANTHA S. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND MAST CELL PROTECTIVE EFFECT OF FICUS RELIGIOSA Ancient Science of Life, 10(2):122 - 125 6. Sheetal C., Anupam K. P., Sonali K. and Sarita K. Evaluation of antidiabetic activity of leaves and fruits of Ficus religiosa Linn. Int. J. of Pharm. & Life Sci. (IJPLS), 2011, 2(12): 1325-1327
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