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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Traditional-ethnoherbological and medicinal properties of Sida plant

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Sida cardifolia growing in the wild

Sida is a shrubby plant which belongs to Malvaceae, a family of flowering plants. It grows in the wild in different types of habitats like overgrazed lands, roadsides; along the sides of walls of old plant etc. It has a number of species many of which are native to India, America and other countries of the world. Sida cordifolia, S.rhombifolia, S.acuta etc. are some of its popularly known species.

Prized for its medicinal properties in Ayurveda for over 5000 years, Sida plant is widely used in Indian alternative medicine philosophy since the time immemorial. Ayurvedic physicians prescribed the decoction of sida roots with ginger in intermittent fever. It is also administered in fever accompanied with rigour. Its seeds are called as Bijabanda in Ayurveda. The powdered root bark is administered with milk and sugar as treatment for urinary urgency and leucorrhoea. Seeds are also used to treat urinary infections. They have been reported to be aphrodisiac also. The plant is reported to be well tolerated in routine doses.

A portion of Sida cardifolia showing flower and fruits

Fresh extract of leaves of sida is used in dropsy and chronic renal failure in a dose of 20ml, two to three times a day. Roots boiled in milk are used in a single daily dose for maintaining health. Paste of roots is used topically for treating inflammation.

Ayurvedic findings have revealed that the plant is aphrodisiac, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and tonic. It affects the central nervous system and provides relief from anxiety. Its extract is consumed to reduce body weight. It tones the blood pressure and improves the cardiac irregularity. It is also useful in fever, fits, Ophthalmia, rheumatism, colic and nervous disorders.The extract of the whole plant is used in spermatorrhoea. Some scholars have reported that bark of the plant is effective in curing facial paralysis and sciatica. It has also been reported to improve sexual strength. Sida oils are used topically to the sore muscles and sore joints in rheumatism and arthritis. It is diaphoretic in nature and increases perspiration and helps in lowering fever.

The heart shape-leaved sida or the Sida cordifolia has three common applications in Ayurveda- mahabaladi kwath, Bala taila, and astringent. Mahabaladi kwath is prepared by mixing seeds of the plant with other ingredients, powdering and boiling the whole material and giving to the patient for relieving muscular pain. Bala taila is used for the treatment of complaints of nervous system, stomach problems and as a cardiac tonic. Crushed leaves of the plant are used as astringent for the treatment and dressing of wounds or skin injuries.

Reports from surveys conducted in different regions reveal that sida acuta had many traditional usages that varied from regions to regions. The most popular use of sida acuta is made in the treatment of fever, headache, and infectious diseases. Many laboratory screening of the extract of the plant have also been done to show the scientific rationale behind these usages and many compounds have also been isolated from the plant. It is due to its medicinal applications that it is cultivated in many parts of India. The powdered leaves of sida rhombifolia are used to relive swelling. Its fruits are used to cure headache, the mucilage of the plant is used as an emollient and the roots are used to treat rheumatism. Sida is traditionally used to treat diarrhea in Australia. In Mexico, leaves are smoked for its simulative effects. In some parts of India, sida leaves are used in tea for the same purpose. The plant is traditionally being used as an astringent, antidote for scorpion stings and snake bites. Some traditional societies use this plant for the treatment of tuberculosis, chronic dysentery, nervous, urinary and cardiac diseases etc.

Chemical constituents of the sida extract

Chemical analysis of the extract of sida plant reveals that it contains appreciable amounts of nutrients, the details of which are mentioned below –

Proteins 74,000ppm to 347,000ppm
Carbohydrate 94,000ppm to 475,000ppm
Fiber 33,000ppm to 167,000ppm
Fat 14,000ppm to 71,000ppm
Ash 16,000ppm to 81,000ppm

Besides the above, it has also been reported that roots of sida plant contain450ppm alkaloids including ephedrine, saponine, choline, pseudoephedrine, betaphenethylamine, vaccine, hipaphorine and related indole alkaloides. Kuniata and Rapp, 2001 reported that it is due to the presence of different chemicals including alkaloids that arrow leaf sida is not liked by cattle.

Medicinal Importance of Sida plant

Roots and stems of the plant contain ephedrine, an important alkaloid. Besides this, traces of sitosterol and palmic, stearic etc. have also been isolated from this plant. According to a report, main alkaloid present in sida is asparagin. Besides this fatty oil, phytosterol, mucin, potassium nitrate, resins and acids are also known to be found in the plant extract. It is also reported that sida does not contain any tannin or glycoside.

According to recent analysis, ephedrine and y-ephedrine are major alkaloids found in the aerial parts of the plant. Besides these two, some other chemical compounds that have been isolated from the aerial parts of sida are – 6-phenyl ethyl amine, carboxylated tryptomines, qunazoline, hypaphorine, vasicinol etc. Different species of this plant have been reported to contain cryptolepine also.

Sida has been reported to contain aphrodisiac, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Its extract is reported to be a tonic in nature. It affects central nervous system and provides relief from anxiety. It is also used to reduce the body weight.
The intake of the extract of sida leaves is reported to lower the blood pressure and to improve the cardiac irregularity. However, contradictory reports have also been there. It is useful in fevers, fits, Ophthalmia, rheumatism, leucorrhoea, micturition, gonorrhea, colic, nervous disorders, and general debility.

The extract of roots of sida plant is useful in healing wounds. The extract of the whole plant is reported to be beneficial in spermatorrhoea. The bark of the stem is effective in sciatica and facial paralysis. The consumption of the juice of sida is reported to improve sexual strength.
The oil extracted from sida is used topically to sore muscles, sore joints, in arthritis and rheumatism. It is reported to be a diaphoretic in nature and to increase perspiration and thus it reduces fever. According to a study, leaves of sida can be used as infusion in treating fevers and delirium. The roots of the plant are astringent and diuretic. Its infusion is useful in cystitis, haematuria, bleeding piles, chronic dysentery etc.

Food and Agriculture Organisation.2002.Cultural practices http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/publicat/FAOGUL2/B204.htm.2p.
Kuniata, L. and G.Rapp.2001.Biocontrol of Sida rhombifolia in Papua New Guinea

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