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Aegle marmelos : A tree with immense medicinal, ethnobotanical, and traditional properties

>> Thursday, January 27, 2011



Aegle marmelos is scientific name of the fruit tree which is also known as Bel or Sriphal in local Hindi language. Its English Names are Stone Apple and Bengal Quince.


The Aegle marmelos tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India. Its medicinal properties have been described in the ancient medical treatise in Sanskrit, Charaka Samhita. All the parts of this tree including stem, bark, root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity has medicinal virtues and has been used as traditional medicine for a long time.

The fruit is of considerably medicinal value when it just begins to ripen. The ripe fruit is aromatic, astringent which helps construction of skin, coolant and laxative. The unripe or half-ripe fruit is astringent, digestive stomachic which improves appetite and antiscorbutic, i.e. which helps to fight scurvy caused due to vitamin C deficiency.

Description of the tree
The bael fruit tree is slow-growing, of medium size, up to 40 or 50 ft (12-15 m) tall with short trunk, thick, soft, flaking bark, and spreading, sometimes spiny branches, the lower ones drooping. Young suckers bear many stiff, straight spines. A clear, gummy sap, resembling gum arabic, exudes from wounded branches and hangs down in long strands, becoming gradually solid. It is sweet at first taste and then irritating to the throat. The deciduous, alternate leaves, borne singly or in 2's or 3's, are composed of 3 to 5 oval, pointed, shallowly toothed leaflets, 1 1/2 to 4 in (4-10 cm) long, 3/4 to 2 in (2-5 cm) wide, the terminal one with a long petiole. New foliage is glossy and pinkish-maroon. Mature leaves emit a disagreeable odor when bruised. Fragrant flowers, in clusters of 4 to 7 along the young branchlets, have 4 recurved, fleshy petals, green outside, yellowish inside, and 50 or more greenish-yellow stamens. The fruit, round, pyriform, oval, or oblong, 2 to 8 in (5-20 cm) in diameter, may have a thin, hard, woody shell or a more or less soft rind, gray-green until the fruit is fully ripe, when it turns yellowish. It is dotted with aromatic, minute oil glands. Inside, there is a hard central core and 8 to 20 faintly defined triangular segments, with thin, dark-orange walls, filled with aromatic, pale-orange, pasty, sweet, resinous, more or less astringent, pulp. Embedded in the pulp are 10 to 15 seeds, flattened-oblong, about 3/8 in (1 cm) long, bearing woolly hairs and each enclosed in a sac of adhesive, transparent mucilage that solidifies on drying.



Image 1 : Aegle marmelos tree



Image 2 : Aegle marmelos tree with ripe fruits


Image 3  : Aegle marmelos  showing a single ripe fruit


Image 4  : Aegle marmelos

Origin and Distribution of Aegle marmelos

The tree grows wild in dry forests on hills and plains of central and southern India and Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh, also in mixed deciduous and dry dipterocarp forests of former French Indochina. Mention has been found in writings dating back to 800 B.C. It is cultivated throughout India, mainly in temple gardens, because of its status as a sacred tree; also in Ceylon and northern Malaya, the drier areas of Java, and to a limited extent on northern Luzon in the Philippine Islands where it first fruited in 1914. It is grown in some Egyptian gardens, and in Surinam and Trinidad. Seeds were sent from Lahore to Dr. Walter T. Swingle in 1909 (P.I. No. 24450). Specimens have been maintained in citrus collections in Florida and in agriculture research stations, but the tree has never been grown for its fruit in this state except by Dr. David Fairchild at his home, the "Kampong", in Coconut Grove, after he acquired a taste for it, served with jaggery (palm sugar), in Ceylon.

Varieties of the tree: Aegle marmelos
One esteemed, large cultivar with thin rind and few seeds is known as 'Kaghzi'. Dr. L.B. Singh and co-workers at the Horticultural Research Institute, Saharanpur, India, surveyed bael fruit trees in Uttar Padesh, screened about 100 seedlings, selected as the most promising for commercial planting: 'Mitzapuri', 'Darogaji', 'Ojha', 'Rampuri', 'Azamati', 'Khamaria'Rated the best was 'Mitzapuri', with very thin rind, breakable with slight pressure of the thumb, pulp of fine texture, free of gum, of excellent flavor, and containing few seeds.
S.K. Roy, in 1975, reported on the extreme variability of 24 cultivars collected in Agra, Calcutta, Delhi and Varanasi. He decided that selections should be made for high sugar content and low levels of mucilage, tannin and other phenolics.

Only the small, hard-shelled type is known in Florida and this has to be sawed open, cracked with a hammer, or flung forcefully against a rock. Fruits of this type are standard for medicinal uses rather than for consuming as normal food.

Food Value per 100 g of Edible Portion

Water
54.96-61.5 g
Protein
1.8-2.62 g
Fat
0.2-0.39 g
Carbohydrates
28.11-31.8 g
Ash
1.04-1.7 g
Carotene
55 mg
Thiamine
0.13 mg
Riboflavin
1.19 mg
Niacin
1.1 mg
Ascorbic Acid
8-60 mg
Tartaric Acid
2.11 mg


Medicinal Uses: The fresh ripe pulp of the higher quality cultivars, and the "sherbet" made from it, are taken for their mild laxative, tonic and digestive effects. A decoction of the unripe fruit, with fennel and ginger, is prescribed in cases of hemorrhoids. It has been surmised that the psoralen in the pulp increases tolerance of sunlight and aids in the maintaining of normal skin color. It is employed in the treatment of leucoderma. Marmelosin derived from the pulp is given as a laxative and diuretic. In large doses, it lowers the rate of respiration, depresses heart action and causes sleepiness.
For medicinal use, the young fruits, while still tender, are commonly sliced horizontally and sun-dried and sold in local markets. They are much exported to Malaya and Europe. Because of the astringency, especially of the wild fruits, the unripe bael is most prized as a means of halting diarrhea and dysentery, which are prevalent in India in the summer months. Bael fruit was resorted to by the Portuguese in the East Indies in the 1500's and by the British colonials in later times.

A bitter, light-yellow oil extracted from the seeds is given in 1.5 g doses as a purgative. It contains 15.6% palmitic acid, 8.3% stearic acid, 28.7% linoleic and 7.6% linolenic acid. The seed residue contains 70% protein.

The bitter, pungent leaf juice, mixed with honey, is given to allay catarrh and fever. With black pepper added, it is taken to relieve jaundice and constipation accompanied by edema. The leaf decoction is said to alleviate asthma. A hot poultice of the leaves is considered an effective treatment for ophthahnia and various inflammations, also febrile delirium and acute bronchitis.

A decoction of the flowers is used as eye lotion and given as an antiemetic. The bark contains tannin and the cournarin, aegelinol; also the furocourmarin, marmesin; umbelliferone, a hydroxy coumarin; and the alkaloids, fagarine and skimmianine. The bark decoction is administered in cases of malaria. Decoctions of the root are taken to relieve palpitations of the heart, indigestion, and bowel inflammations; also to overcome vomiting.
The fruit, roots and leaves have antibiotic activity. The root, leaves and bark are used in treating snakebite. Chemical studies have revealed the following properties in the roots: psoralen, xanthotoxin, O-methylscopoletin, scopoletin, tembamide, and skimmin; also decursinol, haplopine and aegelinol, in the root bark. A categorical medicinal mention of medicinal properties of Marmelos is given here as under-

Applications in  Constipation
Ripe bael fruit is regarded as best of all laxatives. It cleans and tones up the intestines. Its regular use for two or three months helps evacuate even the old accumulated faecal matter from the bowels. For best results, it should be taken in the form of sherbat, which is prepared from the pulp of the ripe fruit. After breaking the shell, the seeds are first removed, and contents are then taken out with a spoon and passed through a sieve. Milk and little sugar may be added to make it more palatable. The pulp of the ripe fruit can also be taken from the spoon without the addition of milk or sugar. About 60 grams of the fruit will suffice for an adult.

Diarrhea and Dysentery
The unripe or half ripe fruit is perhaps, the most effective food remedy for chronic diarrhea and dysentery where there is no fever. Best results are obtained by the use of dried bael or its powder. The bael fruit, when it is still green, is sliced and dried in the sun. The dried bael slices are reduced into powder and preserved in air-tight bottles. The unripe bael can also be baked and taken with jaggery or brown sugar.

The fruit appears to have little effect in acute dysentery when there is definite sensation to defecate but instead of significant amount of faeces, blood and mucus alone are passed. The powdered drug is specially recommended in this condition. Its beneficial effect its, however, most evident when the condition has become sub-acute or chronic. After the use of the fruit in these conditions, the blood gradually disappears and the stool assume a more feculent and solid form. The mucus also disappears after continued use for some time. It is also a valuable remedy for chronic dysenteric conditions characterized by alternate diarrhea and constipation.

Peptic Ulcer
An infusion of  bael leaves is regarded as an effective food remedy for peptic ulcer. The leaves are soaked overnight in water. This water is strained and taken as a drink in the morning. The pain and discomfort are relieved when this treatment is continued for a few weeks. Bael leaves are rich in tannins which reduce inflammation and help healing of ulcers. The bael fruit taken in the form of beverage has also great viscous content. This substance forms a coating on the stomach mucosa and thus helps in the healing of ulcers.

Respiratory Affections
A medicated oil prepared from bael leaves gives relief from recurrent colds and respiratory affections. The juice extracted from bael leaves is mixed with equal quantity of sesame oil and heated thoroughly. A few seeds of black pepper and half a teaspoonful of black cumin are added to the hot oil. It is then removed from the fire and stored for use when necessary. A teaspoonful of this oil should be massaged into the scalp before a head bath. Its regular use builds up resistance against colds and coughs.

A common practice in south India is to give the juice of bael leaves to bring relief from wheezing and respiratory spasm. The leaf juice, mixed in warm water with a little pepper, is give as a drink.

Other Uses of the tree and its parts
1. The fruit pulp has detergent action and has been used for washing clothes. Quisumbing says that bael fruit is employed to eliminate scum in vinegar-making. The gum enveloping the seeds is most abundant in wild fruits and especially when they are unripe. It is commonly used as household glue and is employed as an adhesive by jewelers. Sometimes it is resorted to as a soap-substitute. It is mixed with lime plaster for waterproofing wells and is added to cement when building walls. Artists add it to their watercolors, and it may be applied as a protective coating on paintings.

The limonene-rich oil has been distilled from the rind for scenting hair oil. The shell of hard fruits has been fashioned into pill- and snuff boxes, sometimes decorated with gold and silver. The rind of the unripe fruit is employed in tanning and also yields a yellow dye for calico and silk fabrics.

2.  In the Hindu culture, the leaves are indispensable offerings to the 'Lord Shiva'. The leaves and twigs are lopped for fodder.

3.  A cologne is obtained by distillation from the flowers.

4. The wood is strongly aromatic when freshly cut. It is gray-white, hard, but not durable; has been used for carts and construction, though it is inclined to warp and crack during curing. It is best utilized for carving, small-scale turnery, tool and knife handles, pestles and combs, taking a fine polish.

Key words Aegle marmelos, tree, medicinal values of fruits,


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Take action to save the Clean Air Act – calls the Center for Biological Diversity

>> Tuesday, January 25, 2011



Each one of us is now well aware of the fact that clean air is essential for the survival of flora and fauna on this planet. It is also essential to keep up the balance of nature and to maintain a healthy climate. In America the air is protected through a landmark law known as Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency of United States is celebrating the 40th anniversary of this act. It is the law that defines responsibilities of Environmental Protection Agency for protecting and improving the nation’s air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The Congress enacted Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990. Several minor changes have also been made in the law since then.
Now, the Center for Biological Diversity calls all of us to take action. Action for what and why?  … Let us read the full text quoted directly for a most genuine cause -

"The Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe for four decades. By curbing air pollution, it’s directly responsible for saving many thousands of human lives and improving public health. The Act has achieved these successes while saving us money and protecting our economy. The Clean Air Act’s comprehensive system of pollution control, with a proven track record of success, must now be applied to the grave problem of carbon pollution and global warming. The Act can work immediately by itself or in conjunction with new climate legislation. Now is the time to enforce the Clean Air Act — not gut it — and the Center is working hard with you to make sure this happens. The Environmental Protection Agency has taken some initial steps toward curbing greenhouse pollution under the Act, but these rules are, or will likely be, under legal attack by industry special-interest groups and backward-looking states. We want to continue to work with you to fight Big Oil, Big Coal and others who want to block the Clean Air Act from curbing CO2 pollution while at the same time pushing the Obama administration to use the Clean Air Act quickly and boldly. It’s our current best chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.

THE CLEAN AIR ACT

The Clean Air Act has protected the air we breathe for four decades. By curbing air pollution, it is directly responsible for saving many thousands of lives and improving health. The Act has achieved these successes while saving us money and protecting our economy. The Clean Air Act’s comprehensive system of pollution control, with a proven track record of success, must now be applied to the grave problem of carbon pollution and global warming. The Act can work immediately by itself or in conjunction with new climate legislation. Now is the time to enforce the Clean Air Act — not gut it — and the Center is working hard to make sure this happens.

The Campaign of Centre for Biological Diversity
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollutants in order to protect public health and welfare. In 1999, the International Center for Technology Assessment petitioned to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles under the Clean Air Act.

In 2003, the Center joined a large coalition of groups, states and cities in challenging the Bush administration’s response that CO2 isn’t an “air pollutant” within the broad definition of the Act. In April 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency  that CO2 is in fact an “air pollutant,” ordering the EPA to move forward in regulating its emission. The EPA has taken some initial steps toward curbing greenhouse pollution under the Act. In 2009, the agency issued a formal finding that greenhouse pollution endangers public health and welfare and moved to limit emissions from passenger cars and trucks. The EPA also acknowledged that major new or modified “stationary” sources of greenhouse pollution, like power plants and factories, must obtain permits and control their emissions before beginning construction. However, it narrowed the scope of this requirement considerably under its so-called “tailoring rule,” which initially limits the permitting program to only a few hundred very large sources of greenhouse gases, letting a huge number of smaller — but still significant — sources off the hook. In December 2010, the EPA announced it would finally set industry-wide limits for greenhouse gas pollution from refineries and power plants under the “new source performance standards” of the Clean Air Act. All of the EPA’s rules are, or will likely be, under legal attack by industry special-interest groups and backward-looking states, so the Center is participating actively in the current litigation to defend the rules that help protect our climate. Thanks in part to our efforts, on December 10, 2010; the court denied an industry attempt to halt implementation of some Clean Air Act rules while the industry case proceeds. As a result, regulation of greenhouse gas pollution from the biggest industrial polluters began on January 2, 2011.The Center believes that the Obama government can and must do much more to address the serious threat of climate change. To that end, we’ve continued to press for additional, rapid regulation of emissions under the Act. On December 2, 2009, the Center and 350.org took an historic step by petitioning the EPA to set a national pollution cap on greenhouse gases pursuant to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard Programme of the Clean Air Act. We also joined with allies in petitioning for regulation of greenhouse pollution from ships, airplanes   and other “nonroad”” mobile emission sources, and in June 2010 our coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s unreasonable delay in proposing these regulations. We’re also wielding the Act against Offshore Oil Drilling in the Arctic   and Particulate Air Pollution, as well as to protect the nation’s national parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas from unhealthy haze pollution".

Key words : clean air act, United States, EPA, Center for Biological Diversity
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Emergency Protection Sought for Disappearing Miami Blue Butterfly – Center for Biological Diversity

>> Sunday, January 16, 2011



MIAMI The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a petition seeking emergency protection for the Miami blue under the Endangered Species Act. This rare butterfly, whose adults only live for nine days, has only been found in South Florida. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first designated the butterfly a candidate for federal protection in 1984, but to date has failed to give it any protection. The species was believed extinct after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but in 1999 an amateur lepidopterist discovered a population in Bahia Honda State Park. In 2010 this population was found to have disappeared, and the species is reduced to scattered individuals in another population now known in the Marquesas Keys in Key West National Wildlife Refuge.

“Twenty-seven years of bureaucratic delay have allowed the Miami blue butterfly to decline to the very brink of extinction. The Fish and Wildlife Service must now take emergency measures for this beautiful butterfly to have any chance of survival,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center.

Once widespread in coastal South Florida, the butterfly has severely declined in the face of urban sprawl, fire suppression, pesticides used in mosquito control, loss of host plants due to iguana herbivory, severe weather events and rising sea levels due to climate change. The Miami blue is brightly colored and about one inch long.

“The Miami blue butterfly is in dire need of protection,” said Curry. “And the Obama administration has to date shown no sense of urgency about saving the Miami blue butterfly or hundreds of other species waiting for protection.”
The Miami blue is one of 254 candidate species that have been waiting an average of 20 years for protection and are, like the butterfly, in desperate need of help. To date, President Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service has protected a mere 54 species — an average of 27 species per year. By comparison, the agency protected 498 species under the Clinton administration, for a rate of 62 species per year.



Center for Biological Diversity, Press Release
Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681, January 11, 2011
Key words: Miami butterfly, emergency protection
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Medicinal properties and ethno-herbological values of Astercantha longifolia (L.) Nees

  

A number of aquatic weeds and wetland-herbs have been found to have immense medicinal values, and Tal- makhana is one of them. It is taxonomically known as Astercantha longifolia Linn. Nees. Traditional - medicinal applications and pharmacological studies of the plant revealed by ancient literature and modern researches show that Astercantha longifolia is a plant of immense medicinal and ethno -botanical importance. It is robust and  erect, annual herb with sub-quadrangular thickened nodes; oblanceolate leaves with yellow spines in axils, flowers pale to purple blue, densely clustered in axils, and  fruits oblong, glabrous capsules 4 to 8 seeded.



Image 1: Astercantha longifolia growing in the wild

Synonyms
The plant Astercantha is known in Latin as Hygrophila auriculata (Schum).Hygrophila spinosa Anders and Astercantha longifolia (Linn.) Nees, belonging to family Acanthaceae.Its synonyms are - Hygrophila auriculata (Schumach); Heine; Hygrophila spinosa T. Andes.  In Sanskrit it is known as Ikura, Atichhatra and Vajra; in Bengali it is known as Kuliakhara; in Guajarati it is known as Ekharo; in Hindi it is known as Gokhulakanta, Kailaya and Talmakhana; in Malayalam it is known as Nermulli; in Marathi it is known as Talimakhana; in Tamil it is known as Golmidi, and in Urdu it is known as Talmakhana. In Kannan it is known as Kalavankabija and in Telugu it is known as Gobbi, and Neerugobbi. In Malayalam it is called as Culi, Nirchuli, and Vayalkuli.In Bengali it is called as Kuliakhara, and Kulekhade.

Morphological Features
It is a spiny, stout, annual herb, common in water logged areas. The plant has a number of fasciculated, usually unbranched sub glandular stems, each 60 to 120 cm tall. The stems have nodules hispid with long hairs. Leaves are sessile, oblong- lanceolate or linear lanceolate, spines yellowish brown and 2 to 3 cm (sometimes more) long. These are found in whorls of 6 at each node. The two outer leaves of the whorl remain much larger than the four inner ones. Each leaf is greenish brown in colour. These are acute, entire and hairy.

Flowers are yellowish brown to blue in colour. These usually occur in apparent whorls of eight in four pairs at each node. Bracts occur on nodes. These are usually 2.5 cm long with long and white hairs. Corolla is about 3 cm long, widely two lipped, tube about 1.6 cm long, abruptly swollen at top. Stamens are four in number, didynamous with the second pair larger. Calyxes are four- partite with upper sepal 1.6 to 2 cm long, broader than the upper three. Calyxes are linear, lanceolate, and coarsely hairy on the back and with hyline ciliated margins. Fruits are two celled, linear, and oblong, compressed about 8cm long, and pointed 4 to 8 seeded capsules.  These have single layer of epidermis covered with striated cuticle, followed by 5 to 10 layered, thick walled, oval to hexagonal, lignified sclerenchymatous cells. Seeds are  ovate, flat or compressed, 0.2 to 0.25 cm long and 0.1 to 0.1 to 0.15 cm wide, hairy, appearing smooth when soaked in water immediately get coated with mucilage, light brown, taste slightly bitter and odour not distinct.(Ayurvedic Pharmacoepia of India, 1999).



Image 2



Image 3


Image 4



Image 5:  Showing thorns, sepals and petals

Distribution
This plant is widely distributed throughout tropical and sub-tropical regions of India and other parts of the world including Phillippines, Srilanka, Burma, and Malaya, Nepal and in many other parts of the world. It is usually found in stagnant streams, freshwater swamps and ponds and alongside river beds. In India it is seen luxuriously growing in wet low lands near roads, buildings, and Tals (swallow water filled low lands).However, with the activities of habitat destruction, and fast reclamation of low lands the herb is disappearing fast.

Ayurvedic and Ethno-herbological considerations
The plant Astercantha longifolia is a source of Kokilaksha, the Ayurvedic drug and Talimakhana, the Unani drug. The plant has been described in the Ayurvedic treatise like Sushruta Samhita and Charak Samhita as Rasayana or rejuvenator. What is a Rasayana? Well, it is a specific category of drugs of Indian Ayurvedic System. The word Rasayana is composed of Rasa meaning elixir and Ayana meanng House. Thus the word Rsayana signifies the property of plant that helps to rejuvenate the system (Chauhan and Dixit, 2010).

Rasayana have been being used for the management of neurodegenerative diseases, as rejuvenators, immunomodulators, aphrodisiac and tonic (Thakur et al., 2007). This plant has been described as Iksura, Ikshugandha, and Kokilaksha in Ayurvedic literature. The Sanskrit word Kokilaksha literally means an eye of the cuckoo. The flowers of this plant resemble in the color of cuckoo's eyes, hence the name. According to Vaidya, 1970, its parts form constituents of Ayurvedic preparation Strirativallabhpug pak and Rativardhan yog. These medicines are recommended to improve sexual behavior of women. It also acts as a general tonic.

According to Ayurveda, the extract of the plant or of its parts can be administered for following actions –
  • In breaking and expulsion of kidney stones (Ashmari Pranut),
  • To nourish genital system so as to enable even an old person to enjoy his sexual life like a young person (Vrushya),
  • To enhance the strength of body (Balya)
  • It can nourish each and every cell of the body and it is due to this property that it is useful in emaciation and malnutrition conditions ( Samtarpana Parah)
In a nut shell the plant can be used for –
  • Nourishing the genital system
  • Enhancing body strength
  • Nourishing each and every cell of the body
  • Breaking and expulsing kidney stones
  • Protecting liver actions
Phytochemicals contained in different parts of the plant
The extract of leaves has been reported to contain phenolics and flavonoide. Thus it shows promising antioxidant activity. Swadogo et al., 2006 have reported that methanolic extract of leaves of this plant contain phenolic and flavonoide showing promising antioxidant activity. Dasgupta and De 2007 have reported that the aqueous extract of leaves of A. longifolia showed potent antioxidant activity in various in vitro models.

Nadkarni, 1978 and Chopra et al. 1986 have reported that the whole plant of A. longifolia has great Ayurvedic and ethno-medicinal properties. The whole plant including ashes is extensively used in traditional systems of medicine for treating various types of ailments like rheumatism, inflammation, jaundice, hepatic obstruction, pain, urinary infections, oedema and gout.

In Ayurvedic system the plant has been classified as Seethviryam, Madhuravipaka and is used for the treatment of Premeham (diabetes), arthisaram (dysentery) etc.

Vijay Kumar et al. 2006 who studied the impact of Ethanol extract of aerial parts of A. longifolia on rats, found that when administered at the rate 100 and 200mg/kg of body weight for three weeks it showed significant reduction in blood glucose level. Decrease in thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and Hydro peroxide in both liver and kidney was also observed. The treatment with ethanol extract has also been reported to increase the glutathione s- transferase (GST) and catalase (CAT) in drug treated group comparable to the control group. These rats also showed decrease in Lipid peroxidation which is associated with increased activity of superoxide dismutase and catalase.

The effect of hot water extract of A. longifolia on glucose tolerance of normal human beings and maturity onset diabetic patients has been investigated by Fernando et al. (1991).

Hewawasam et al., 2003 and Usha et al., 2007 have found that aqueous extract of Panchang (all the five parts of the plant root, stem, leaves, flowers, fruits) of A. longifolia possesses hepatoprotective and antioxidative properties against CCL4 – and paracetamol induced hepatotoxicities.

Singh and Handa, 1999 have reported that methanolic extracts of the seeds of the plant show hepatoprotective activity against paracetamol and thioacetamide intoxication in rats. Shalajan et al., 2005 have showed that the slurry of the whole plant was hepatoprotective against CCl4 induced liver dysfunction in rats. Later in 2007 they also showed that the slurry, aqueous extract and ethanol extract of the whole plant powder were hepatoprotective against galactosamine induced hepatotoxicity. Thus it can be inferred that the extract of the whole plant of A. longifolia is hepatoprotective and can further be examined for synthesizing hepatoprotective and anti- diabetic medications.

Patra et al.009a; 2009b have reported that chloroform and alcoholic extracts of A. longifolia have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-pyretic activities. Earlier, Patra et al., 2008 have reported that petroleum ether, chloroform, alcohol, and aqueous extract of leaves of the plant produced significant anthelmintic activity and both the alcoholic and chloroform extracts of the plant showed significant anti-bacterial activity. Thus, it is inferred that the extract of A. longifolia can be used as anti- inflammatory and analgesic agent.

Mazumdar et al., 1996 have reported that petroleum ether extract of root of A. longifolia caused significant increase in WBC count. Pawar et al.2006a;2006b have reported that petroleum ether and chloroform extract of leaves showed hematopoietic activity by increasing the erythrocyte count, leucocyte count, and hemoglobin level significantly. Thus, it can be concluded that the extract of the plant A. longifolia can be administered for hematopoietic activities and further researches are needed to synthesize medications for such activities from the extract of the plant.

Mazumdar et al., 1997 found that administration of extract of the plant repressed the rapid increase of body wight of tumor bearing mice. Ahmad et al., 2001 studied the effect of application of methanol extract of seeds of A. longifolia and found that it inhibits hematocarcinogenesis in Wistar rats. The petroleum ether extract of A. longifolia roots exhibited antitumor activity in Ehrlich ascites carcinoma and sarcoma- 180 bearing rats. It has been reported that the administration of extract of this plant suppresses the tumor fluid volume significantly.

Chauhan et al., 2009, 2010 studied the impact of administration of seed extract of A. longifolia on sexual behavior of rats in dose dependent manner. It was found to improve the histo-architecture of testes and increase the concentration of sperm count in epididymis and also increase the testosterone level. These findings confirm that the extract of seeds of A. longifolia can be administered for enhancing the sexual power and activity in humans.

Phytochemicals found in different parts of A. longifolia
A number of studies confirm the phytochemical content of A. longifolia. It contains various phytochemicals in varying amounts in its different parts. The entire plant has been reported to contain lupeol, stigmasterol, an isoflavon glycoside, an alkaloid and small quantities of uncharacterized bases. The oil extracted out from its seeds contains about 23 % of linoleic acid, 10% of oleic acid, 12% of stearic acid, 6% of palmitic acid and small quantity of myristic acid.Sondhi and Agarwal,1995 isolated a number of minerals from the plant using Flame photometer, Atomic Absorption Spectrometer and Inductively coupled plasma. They found that the plant contained Mn, Mg, Zn, Ca, Fe, Ni, Cr, Na, K, Al, and Sr. Chowdhary and Bandhyopadhyay, 1998 confirmed the presence of Fe, Cu, and CO in the plant extract.Quasim and Dutta, and 1967 studied the root contents of the plant and found that it contained stigmasterol. The aerial parts of the plant contain lupeol, stigmasterol, and butelin. Seeds of the plant are reported to contain fatty acids as principal constituents. Mishra et al.2001, isolated two aliphatic easters from the aerial part of the plant.

Thus, from various researches done so far it has been confirmed that the plant A. longifolia contains Apignin-7-0-glucoside, 7-0- glucoside, histidine, lysine, phenylalanine, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, xylos, uronic acid, polysaccharides, xylan, protease, lupeol, betulin, phytosterol, ascorbic acid, nicotinic acid etc.


References

-          Agrawal HSK, Kulkarni S 2003. Efficacy and safety of speman  in patients with oligospermia: An open clinical study. Indian J Clinical Practice 14: 29-31.
-          Ahmed S, Rahman A, Mathur M, Athar M, Sultana S 2001. Antitumor promoting activity of  Asteracantha longifolia against experimental hepatocarcinogenesis in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 39: 19-28.
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Key words: Rasayan, Astercantha longifolia, medicinal, ethno-herbological, streptozotocin, Hepatoprotective


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