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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Medicinal importance of Madar (Calotropis sp.)

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Madar : Calotropis gigantia
Madar or mandar is a neglected medicinal weed. It is taxonomically known as Calotropis belonging to the family Asclepiadaceae. In English it is commonly known as milk weed or swallow-wort. It is a common wasteland plant which gains not much recognition from animals and human beings. Animals usually do not eat it and insects too seem to have some fear from it though its flowers are seen to attract a variety of nectar loving insects. Its names in different languages are –arka, alarka, mandara and surya patta in Sanskrit; madar, and ak in Hindi;Khok in Persian;akado in Gujrati; ruvi, akdo and akra in Maharashtriyan; mandaram, eke, jiledu and arkamu in Telugu; badabadam,yercum and erukku in Tamil; erikka in Malayalam; ekkemale in Kannad; byclospa in Sindhi; and arbor-a-soie in French.

Principal constituents of the leaf extract of Calotropis sp.

The extract of Calotropis leaves has been reported to contain a chemical known as mandarin, which is the principal active constituent. It contains resin and three glycosides namely calotropin, uscharin, and calotoxin. These glycosides have been reported to be highly toxic in nature. The latex contains a very toxic bacteriolytic enzyme calactine which acts as a defense mechanism against grasshoppers and other insects. The extract of Calotropis gigantia is reported to contain giganteol, isogeganteol, and b-sitosterol etc. chemical compounds.

Medicinal Properties

•The whole plant (Panchang) when dried and consumed is reported to act as a good tonic, anthelmintic, and an expectorant.

•Different parts of Calotropis procera and Calotropis procera are commonly used in preparation of various important Ayurvedic, Unani and Homoeopathic medicines.

•In traditional Indian practice the dried roots of Calotropis are powdered and used effectively to cure bronchitis, asthma, leprosy, eczema, and even elephantiasis.

•Hindu physicians used the secretion of the root bark of Calotropis in the treatment of skin diseases, enlargement of abdominal viscera, intestinal worms, cough, ascites, anascara etc.

•In the Ethno botanical practice in some Indian and African communities the milky juice of the plant is regarded as a drastic purgative and caustic. Flowers are used to improve digestion, catarrh and increase appetite. The leaf-ash is used with whey for treating abdominal cases.

•In traditional practice the root bark with latex is smoked for cough.

•In traditional practice when medical science was not so well developed, and in some tribal communities even now, the juice of Calotropis is used for the purpose of infanticide and is sometimes taken by women to induce abortion.

•The extract of the plant is used in the preparation of various homoeopathic medicines also.

•The processed extract of the leaves of the plant is used in the treatment of vertigo, hair loss, tooth aches, intermittent fevers, swelling of joints, and paralysis. In traditional practice, the leaves of the plant are heated in oil and attached over a joint of the body to relieve swelling and pain. However it is recommended that the application of extract or the latex of this plant should be made in the supervision of a knowledgeable Ayurvedic medicinal practitioner only.

Other Properties
It has been reported that Calotropis leaves can be successfully used alternatively for biomethanation (Current Science, vol.92, No. 4, 25 Feb.2007). The milky juice of the plant has been traditionally used by tanners to remove hair from hides.

Toxic Properties
•The extract of the root bark if consumed in higher dose may causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

•Accidental entry of the latex of this plant into eye causes congestion with tear and local anesthesia, followed by deeper effects due to absorption.

•Calotropin, found in the plant extract is reported to be 15 to 20 times more toxic than strychnine (Perry, Medicinal Plants of East and South East Asia).

•The latex of the Calotropis plant had been in traditional use as arrow poison by some traditional tribal communities of India and Africa.

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