Taxonomically the plant is known as Adhatoda vesica. In local systems it is variously known as Malabar Nut, Adulsa, Arusha, Vasaka, Justicia adhatoda, Adulsa Arusa, Adathodai, Bakash, Adathoda, Adalodakam, Adusoge, Addasaramu, Lion’s Muzzle, Stallion’s Tooth. It is known as Adathoda in Tamil and Adalodakam in Malayalam.It belongs to family Acanthaceae. It is a small evergreen and sub-herbaceous bush which is commonly found in the lower Himalayas- up to 1300 meters above sea level, in India, Srilanka, Burma, Malaysia etc.The average height of the plant ranges from 50cm to 90cm. Leaves are broad and lanceolate measuring 10 to 16 cm in length and 5 cm in width.
The dried leaves become greenish brown in form and bitter in taste. The stem wood is soft and can be used for making charcoal for gunpowder. Flowers are large, fragrant, and attractive with white petals. The filaments are usually free and project beyond the corolla tube. The gynoecium consists of two carpels, syncarpous.Ovary is superior, bilocular with axile placentation.Ovary is highly elongated and remains situated in a nectar secreting disc. It terminates above in a long narrow style which projects beyond the mouth of the flower, and ends in two small stigmas of various shapes. Fruit is usually bilocular capsule dehiscing loculicidally. Seeds are exalbuminous and usually four in number per fruit. Pollination is mostly brought about through the agency of insects.
Adhatoda vesica : A Young Plant growing at the root of a tree
Adhatoda vesica : A flowering plant growing independently on uncultivated land
Constituents of the plant extract
The plant extract has been reported to contain a number of constituents. The extract of its leaves is reported to contain – Quinazoline alkaloids, vasicine, N-oxides of vaccine, deoxyvasicine, oxyvasicine, maiontone and essential oils. The whole plant is reported to contain a peculiar compound named as organic adhatodic acid which is an odorous substance.
Roots of Adhatoda vesica contain vasicinolone, vasicol, peganine, hydroxyl oxychalcone, glucosyl oxychalcone etc. compounds (Gupta, Anand, Ghatak and Atal, 1977). Flowers of the plant are reported to contain b-sitosterol-D-glucoside, kaempferol, glycosides of kaempferol, and queretin etc.
Medicinal Properties of plant extract
The plant extract in general, is found to be abortifacient, anti-asthmatic, antispasmodic, antitussive (Dhule, 1999), bronchodilator, expectorant. It has also been reported to be febrifuge, mucolytic, oxytocic, and uterotonic.
The extract of leaves is traditionally used for the treatment of bronchitis. It is known to Ayurveda for 2000 years. It has important places in Siddha and Unani medicinal systems also. It has been reported to releave cough and breathlessness (Gogate, 1982). The local use of the leaf extract is reported to cure pyorrhea and bleeding gums (Doshi, J.J. et al 1983). The active alkaloid vasicine and its autooxidation product vasicinone have shown bronchodilator and antihistaminic effects (Chopra1982, Arnin A.H. and D.R Mehta 1959).
The plant is recommended for a variety of ailments such as bronchitis, asthma, fever, jaundice etc.in traditional healthcare and Ayurvedic systems. The leaves & roots are efficacious in coughs, arthritis, diarrhea & dysentery and have the best haemostatic quality. Leaves are anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and effective in skin disorders. The leaf-extract is considered as a tonic for heart in some traditional healthcare systems. This is one of the most potent anti tuberculosis drug. The important constituent of the plant Vasicine is also reported for its anthelmintic and weak hypertensive activity. The plant extract has also been reported to have antibacterial (Brantner and Chakraborty1998), antimycobacterial, wound healing, and hypoglycemic activity. Adhatoda vesica Nees has been commonly used in the indigenous system of medicine of Naga tribes in India for curing intestinal worm infections (Yadava and Tangpu, 2008).
The extract of Adhatoda is found to have anti-ulcer activity against ulcers induced by the consumption of ethanol, pylorus and aspirin. The leaf powder of adhatoda showed a considerable degree of anti-ulcer activity in experimental rats when compared with control. Research has shown that syrup of adhatoda improves the symptoms of dyspepsia.
These results suggest that in addition to its classically established pharmacological activities, Adhatoda has immense potential as an anti-ulcer agent. Further research showed that a syrup of Adhatoda improved symptoms of dyspepsia (Chaturvedi et al, 1983).
According to an important research by Kokate CK, D’Cruz JL, Kumar RA, ApteSS (1985), Adhatoda has been used for centuries in India as an insecticide. Its leaves have been shown to control insect pests in oil seeds, in both laboratory and warehouse conditions.39 Research has shown Adhatoda alkaloid, vasicinol, to have an ant fertility effect against several insect species by causing blockage of the oviduct. The same study showed that essential oils taken from Adhatoda reduced feeding activity in specific granary pests. Research has also proven Adhatoda effectiveness as an insect repellent.
Applications in veterinary healthcare system
M.K.Jha (1992) has reported that Adhatoda has been used successfully in veterinary medicine for thousands of years in India. It is effective for a variety of animal conditions including coughs, colds, and diseases such as abscesses, anthrax, throat diseases, asthma, tuberculosis, jaundice, scabies, urticaria, rheumatism, pneumonia, hematuria and contagious abortion.
· Amin, A.H. and D.R Mehta: Nature, 184:1317 (1959).
· Arun K. Yadav and Vareishang Tangpu : Anticestodal activity of Adhatoda vasica extract againstHymenolepis diminuta infections in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119;322-324(2008).
· Brantner AH, Chakraborty A 1998 In vitro antibacterial activity of alkaloids isolated from dhatoda vasica NEES. Pharmacy and Pharmacology Letters 8(3):137
· Chaturvedi GN, Rai NP, Dhani R, Tiwari SK, 1983 Clinical trial ofAdhatoda vasica syrup (vasa) in the patients of non-ulcer dyspepsia (Amlapitta). Ancient Science of Life 3(1):19
· Chopra, R.N.: Indigenous Drugs of India, Academic Publishers, Calcutta (1982).
· Dhuley, JN Antitussive effect of Adhatoda vasica extract on mechanical or chemical stimulation-induced coughing in animals. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 30;67(3):361-5.
· Doshi, J.J. et al.: Int. J. Crude Drug Res., 21:173(1983).
· Gogate, V.M. : Dravyagunavignyana, continental prakashan, Pune (1982)
· Gupta OP, Anand KK, Ghatak BJ, Atal CK 1977 Pharmacological investigations of vasicine and vasicinone - the alkaloids of Adhatoda vasica. Indian Journal of Medical Research 66(4):680
· Jha MK1992 The folk veterinary system of Bihar - a research survey. NDDB, Anand, Gujrat
· Kokate CK,D'Cruz JL, Kumar RA,ApteSS 1985 Anti-insect and juvenoidal activity of phytochemicals derived from Adhatoda vasica Nees. Indian Journal of Natural Products l(l-2):7