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Shikakai

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Acacia concinna is a tree generally known as Shikakai in India. It belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is native to Asia, common in the warm plains of central and south India. It grows in the tropical jungles of India, especially in the Deccan region. Shikakai is well-known for its conditioning, detangling effects and for the natural shampoo derived from its fruit.
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Botanical Names
Acacia concinna
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Saptala Bengali : Ban-ritha Hindi : Shikakai, Ritha, Kochi Malayalam : Cheeyakayi, Cheenikka Marathi : Reetha Kannada : Sheegae, Shige kayi, Sigeballi Tamil : Cikkay, Shikai Telugu : Shiika'ya; Siika'ya
Chemical Constituents
Major constituents include Saponins, the major constituent in the fruit, is the mixture of Acacinin A, Acacinin B, Acacinin C, Acacinin D and Acacinin E. Phytochemical study showed that the crude extract of A. concinna pod consisted of alkaloids, flavonoids, saponin and tannin.
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 a quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content by specifying a quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the marker substances or the ‘active’ ingredient. 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 herb is 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 gastro-intestinal 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 hypersentivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Acacia concinna is an important medicinal plant. Its dried pods are traditionally utilized as herbal medicine to treat many health symptoms. It is used as laxative, hepato protective, antibacterial, antidandruff and to cure cough, skin diseases. Different Acacia concinna extracts showed potent antibacterial and antifungal activity against the fungal causative agents of ringworm and opportunistic infections of immuno compromised populations such as Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and Penicillium marneffei. An infusion of the leaves is used in malarial fever as it possesses potent antimalarial activity. It also acts as good hepatoprotective agent. A decoction of the pods relieves biliousness and acts as a purgative.
Health Benefits
Acacia concinna has been used traditionally for hair care in the Indian Subcontinent since ancient times. It is one of the Ayurvedic medicinal plants. The fruit is known in India as shikakai, "fruit for hair" in its use as a traditional shampoo. A. concinna extracts are used in natural shampoos or hair powders and the tree is now grown commercially in India and Far East Asia. The plant parts used for the dry powder or the extract are the bark, leaves or pods. Saponins from the plant's pods have been traditionally used as a detergent. The scientific studies suggest that the use of ethanol extract of Acacia concinna Pods exhibited significant protection from liver damage in CC14 induced liver damage model. Histopathological studies revealed that concurrent administration of the extract with carbon tetrachloride exhibited protection of the liver, which further evidenced its hepato protective activity. An infusion of the leaves and pods has been regularly used in anti-dandruff preparations. Extracts of the ground pods have been used for various skin diseases.
Research References
• www.pubmed.gov Pubmed, a well known site has listed important studies going on around the world in various universities. These include….. 1. Immunological adjuvant activities of saponin extracts from the pods of Acacia concinna.Kukhetpitakwong R, Hahnvajanawong C, Homchampa P, Leelavatcharamas V, Satra J, Khunkitti W.Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Nov;6(11):1729-35. Epub 2006 Aug 4.PMID: 16979128). 2. Acacia concinna saponins. I. Structures of prosapogenols, concinnosides A-F, isolated from the alkaline hydrolysate of the highly polar saponin fraction.(Abul Gafur M, Obata T, Kiuchi F, Tsuda Y.Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1997 Apr;45(4):620-5.PMID: 9145500). 3. Kinmoonosides A-C, three new cytotoxic saponins from the fruits of Acacia concinna, a medicinal plant collected in Myanmar.(Tezuka Y, Honda K, Banskota AH, Thet MM, Kadota S.J Nat Prod. 2000 Dec;63(12):1658-64.PMID: 11141109).
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