Health Benefits of Hemidesmus indicus

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Indian sarsaparilla Quick Facts
Name: Indian sarsaparilla
Scientific Name: Hemidesmus indicus
Anantmool also known as Hemidesmus indicus belongs to Periplocaceae family and also called Periploca indica. It is used in folk medicine and a vital ingredient in Ayurvedic and unani preparations. This climbing vine plant is found in Upper Gangetic plain, eastwards to Bengal, Sundarbans and from Central provinces to South India and Travancore. Roots are aromatic and woody. Stem is slender, numerous, terete and is thickened at nodes. Leaves are short-petioled, opposite, variable, elliptic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. Flowers are greenish outside and purplish inside which is crowded in sub-sessile axillary cymes.

The root of Hemidesmus indicus is sweet, demulcent and cooling. It is used as an aphrodisiac, diuretic and tonic. The root bark is used to treat leucoderma, syphilis, rheumatism, hemicrania and several kidney and liver disorders. In folk medicine, the powdered root is combined with cow’s milk which treats scanty and highly colored urine.

The medicinal properties it possesses are chemopreventive activity, anti-cancerous activity, immuno-modulatory activity, healing power, antioxidant properties, anti-diarrheal activity, diuretic activity, anti-leprotic activity and anti-venom activity. It occurs over the larger part of India from upper Gangetic plain eastwards to Assam and in Central, western and South India.

Health Benefits of Hemidesmus indicus

  1. Anti-cancerous activity

Hemidesmus indicus possess anticancer potentials against breast cancer cells. Rhizomes methanolic extract is effective against breast cancer. It is also used in treating colon cancer. The root extract shows significant cytotoxic activity against Ehrlich Ascites Tumor as well. The components of intracellular signaling pathways that are involved in cell viability, proliferation and alter protein expression which leads to tumor cell death. It is a chemopreventive agent in skin.

2. Wound healing  activity

The leaves have wound healing properties and have a crucial role in treating chronic wounds and in cancer and diabetic patients. About 5% and 10% of H. indicus alcoholic extract is formulated as ointment which increases the rate of wound contraction.

  1. Treat ulcer

Hemidesmus indicus possess antiulcer activity and acts by mucoprotective action and also inhibit prostaglandins. When compared to drugs such as rantidine and omeperazole, H. indicus have less mucoprotective activity.

  1. Nootropic effect

The root extract of H. indicus promote learning power as well as memory in mice. It is used as a memory restorative agent for treating dementia in Alzheimer’s disease and also other neurodegenerative diseases.

  1. Hepatoprotective activity

50% of ethanolic extract of H. indicus prevent rifampicin and isoniazid coaxed hepatotoxicity.  After oral administration, biochemical parameters such as serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase, alkaline phosphatase and serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase are found to be in normal range.

  1. Lowers inflammation

The ethyl acetate extract of root shows anti-inflammatory activities in subacute and acute inflammation. An oral administration of root extracts displays antinociceptive activity and block both neurogenic and inflammatory pains.

  1. Anti-hypergycemic properties

Treatment with H. indicus root extract showed reduction in glycogen content in muscle tissues with improvement in diabetic rats. In diabetic condition, the presence of excess glucose react with hemoglobin for forming glycosylated hemoglobin. So glycosylated hemoglobin level is directly proportional to the level of blood glucose.

Traditional uses

  • For tooth problems or toothache, crush leaves and put it between the teeth.
  • Take 4 gm of each anantmool root and leaves of Malabar nut with milk twice a day to relieve gastric and asthma problems.
  • To treat baldness or enhance hair growth, take the powder of anantmool root with water thrice a day.
  • For abdominal pain, use the grinded 2-3 gm of anantmool root in water.
  • Take 1 gm of fried anantmool powder in ghee with 5 gm sugar to treat burning sensation.
  • Intake 3 gm of anantmool root powder with honey thrice a day to lower the joint pain and stiffness.
  • Take a hot infusion of anantmool root mixed with milk and sugar candy for healthy and fair childbirth.

Culinary uses

  • The pickled ones are served with rice dishes in Tamil Nadu.
  • In South India, root extracts are used in syrup with sugar and lemon.






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