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Indian Sarsaparilla scientifically termed as Hemidesmus indicus, is a species of plant that is found in South Asia. It is a slender, laticiferous, twining, sometimes prostrate or semi-erect shrub. Roots are woody and aromatic. The stem is numerous, slender, 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.

Listing Details

Botanical Names
Hemidesmus indicus
Indian Names
Hindi : Antamul/Anantmool Sanskrit : Arkaparni, Anthrapachaka Gujarati : Anantmul, Uppalsri, Sariva Marathi : Anantvel Bengali : Anantmul, Shymlatta Kannada : Sugankha-palada-gidda, Sogade, Sugandhballi Tamil : Nannari, Sugandipala Malayalam : Narunenti Telugu : Suganda pala
Chemical Constituents
Chemical analysis of the root of Hemidesmus indicus showed the presence of coumarins, volatile oil the chief component of which is p-methoxy salicylic aldehyde, two sterols and a pregnane glycoside. The preliminary phytochemical screening of the Hemidesmus indicus extract showed the presence of triterpenes, flavonoids, pregnane glycosides and steroids (1). Two Novel pregnane glycosides denicunine and heminine, have been isolated from the dried stem of Hemidesmus indicus. The volatiles obtained from roots of Hemidesmus indicus by steam distillation contained 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzaldehyde and ledol, which are isolable in pure form, as the major constituents. The GC–MS analysis of the residual oil showed the presence of over 40 minor constituents. Among them, nerolidol, borneol, linalyl acetate, dihydrocarvyl acetate, salicylaldehyde, isocaryophyllene, α-terpinyl acetate and 1,8-cineol are important as aromatic and bio-active principles.
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.
It is used in traditional medicine. In Ayurveda it goes by the name of ananthamoola or Anantmula. It is also called the False Sarsaparilla. The plant possesses beneficial activities such 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 infections (3). Roots of Hemidesmus indicus possesses anti venom property. An organic acid, isolated and purified from the root extract of an Indian medicinal plant sarsaparilla Hemidesmus indicus R.Br, possessed viper venom inhibitory activity. The compound isolated significantly antagonized viper venom-induced lethal, haemorrhagic, coagulant and anticoagulant activity in experimental rodents (antivenom) (4). Oral treatment with the ethanol extract of Hemidesmus indicus roots significantly prevented rifampicin and isoniazid-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. (hepatotoxicity) The ethanolic extract of roots of Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. was also investigated for possible antinociceptive effect in mice.
Health Benefits
H. indicus has long been used as a folk medicine and found to be an ingredient in ayurvedic and unani preparations which are usually prescribed against inflammation, diarrhoea, respiratory disorders, skin diseases, syphilis, fever, bronchitis, asthma, eye diseases, urinary disorders, loss of appetite, burning sensation and rheumatism and especially for epileptic fits in children (5). Hemidesmus indicus root is administered in the form of powder, infusion or decoction as syrup. It is also a component of several medicinal preparations. It stimulates the flow of bile and removes toxins from the body. It is a good diuretic and increases flow of urine three to four times. It relieves inflammation of urethra and burning micturition and is also helpful for third or fourth stages of syphilis (6). Oral administration of Hemidesmus indicus extract revealed dose-dependent antinociceptive effect in all the models for antinociception and it blocked both the neurogenic and inflammatory pain and the nociceptive activity was comparable with the reference drug. The results indicate that alcoholic extract of Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. possesses a significant antinociceptive activity. The activity can be related with the significant phytochemicals such as triterpenes, flavonoids, and sterols reported in the root extract.
Research References
1. A. Anoop and M. Jegadeesan Biochemical studies on the anti-ulcerogenic potential of Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. var. indicus Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2003 84(2-3):149-156 2. Poonam S., Rina S., Desh D. and Anakshi K. C21 steroidal glycosides from Hemidesmus indicus Phytochemistry 2000 54(8):983-987 3. V. Gopiesh Khanna and K. Kannabiran Larvicidal effect of Hemidesmus indicus, Gymnema sylvestre, and Eclipta prostrata against Culex qinquifaciatus mosquito larvae African Journal of Biotechnology 2007 6 (3):307-311 4. M.I. Alam, B. Auddy and A. Gomes Isolation, purification and partial characterization of viper venom inhibiting factor from the root extract of the Indian medicinal plant sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus R.Br.) 1994 Toxicon 32(12):1551-1557 5. M.I. Alam, B. Auddy and A. Gomes Laboratory of Toxinology and Experimental Pharmacodynamics, Department of Physiology, University of Toxicon 1994 32(12):1551-1557 6. Iqbal Ahmad, Arina Z. Beg Antimicrobial and phytochemical studies on 45 Indian medicinal plants against multi-drug resistant human pathogens Journal of Ethnopharmacology 74 (2001) 113–123 7. M.I. Alama and A. Gomes Adjuvant effects and antiserum action potentiation by a (herbal) compound 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy benzoic acid isolated from the root extract of the Indian medicinal plant `sarsaparilla' (Hemidesmus indicus R. Br.) 1998 Toxicon 36(10): 1423-1431 Antinociceptive activity of alcoholic extract of Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. in mice Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 102, Issue 2, 14 November 2005, Pages 298-301