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Crataeva magna (Lour.) DC

Crateva magna (Varuna tree) is a small tree often found along streams. It bears red small tomatosized berries. In Sanskrit language the word Varuna means “that which is earnestly desired by people”. Situvrksa (tree that fetters diseases) and Marutapaha (that which cures diseases arising from the destabilization of vata) are the other Sanskrit names of the plant. The dried bark is used in Ayurveda for treating urinary stones and tumors (Prabhakar and Kumar 1990; Warrier et al. 2007b).

Deshpande et al. (1982) carried out a number of studies to evaluate the role of the stem-bark in the management of urinary calculi, prostatic hypertrophy, neurogenic bladder and chronic urinary tract infections. Cystometric studies were carried out on patients with prostatic hypertrophy and atonic bladder by means of a simple water cystometer. Decoction of the stem-bark (50 ml) twice a day was tested on 30 cases of prostatic hypertrophy with hypotonic bladder. The treatment provided marked relief of symptoms like incontinence, pain and retention of urine. The cystometric study showed increased bladder tone leading to an increase in the expulsive force of urination. The decoction improved the bladder tone in several cases of hypotonia and atonia which persist after prostatectomy. The drug also provided beneficial effects to neurogenic bladder. These effects were observable after three months of therapy (Deshpande et al. 1982).

After administration of the drug for a month it was observed that the excretion of urinary calcium was reduced to a great extent, while the excretion of sodium and magnesium increased significantly. On plotting the electrolyte values on a triangular graph, a shifting of values towards the non-lithogenic zone was observed. The drug is thus found to alter the relative proportions of calcium, magnesium and sodium which participate in calculus formation (Deshpande et al 1982).

Administration of 50 ml of bark-decoction twice a day to 46 patients with urinary stone caused a significant anti-urolithiatic action. Over a period of between 1 and 47 weeks, 28 patients were able to pass the stone, while 18 experienced symptomatic relief. The spontaneous passing of stones following C. magna therapy may be facilitated by the tonic contractile action of the drug on smooth muscle (Deshpande et al. 1982).

The lithotriptic action of the stem-bark decoction was re-examined by Singh et al. (1991), who administered the potion to patients suffering from calcium oxalate stones. After treatment for 12 weeks, a significant reduction in pain and dysuria was noted. There was also some reduction in the size of the stones (Singh et al. 1991).

Curcuma longa L.

C. longa or turmeric is a flowering plant belonging to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is an important plant in Ayurveda. The Ayurveda lexicon Abhidanamanjari calls turmeric Gauri (of white complexion), Haridra (the yellow one), Rajani (night), Pita (yellow), Pinda (lump), Kancani (gold), Strlvallabha (liked by ladies) and Varnavati (improver of complexion) (Warrier et al. 2007b).

The protective and curative effects of C. longa powder on CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats were investigated by Beji et al. (2019). Turmeric was administered before or after treatment with CC14. Results showed that the activities of aspartate aminotransaminase, alanine aminotransami- nase and the levels of bilirubin and serum lipids were increased after CC14 treatment. Total protein, albumin levels and antioxidant enzyme activities were decreased. Turmeric administration, before or after CC14 treatment, significantly decreased the activities of marker enzymes and lipid levels in blood. Concomitantly, total protein and albumin contents were restored to nearly normal levels after turmeric administration. These effects were accompanied with an increase of antioxidant enzymes activities.

The hepatoprotective property of C. longa was further studied by Karamalakova et al. (2019) in a bleomycin-induced chronic hepatotoxicity model. Hepatic toxicity was induced by intraperitoneal injection of mice once daily with bleomycin for four weeks. C. longa extract was administered once a day for four weeks. The extract significantly protected the liver by decreasing plasma bilirubin, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase and lipid peroxidation levels. Bleomycin administration produced oxidative stress, leading to dysfunction in the antioxidant system and significant increase in R.O.S. production. C. longa extract provided significant hepatic protection by improving superoxide dis- mutase, catalase and malondialdehyde levels, and decreasing R.O.S., reducing membrane lipid peroxidation. Therefore, C. longa extract is a good therapeutic agent to treat chronic hepatotoxicity.

Cyperus rotundus L.

C. rotundus is a perennial plant, often growing in wastelands and in crop fields. The root system of a young Cyperus plant initially forms white, fleshy rhizomes in chains. Some rhizomes grow upward in the soil and form a bulb-like structure from which new shoots and roots grow. Some of these rhizomes grow horizontally or downward and form dark reddish-brown tubers or chains of tubers. In Ayurveda it is valued in the treatment of fevers and digestive disorders (Warrier et al. 2007b).

Tubers of C. rotundas contain an essential oil. Forty-three components were identified in the essential oil of tubers collected from South Africa, a-cyperone (11.0%), myrtenol (7.9%), caryophyl- lene oxide (5.4%) and (3-pinene (5.3%) were major compounds in the oil (Lawal and Oyedeji 2009). C. rotundus essential oil was found to be significantly active against Gram-positive microorganisms (Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus species), moderately active against Sarcina lutea, Bacillus subtilis and the acid-fast Mycobacterium phlei (El-Gohary 2004). At 100% concentration the oil C. rotundus showed good activity against Escherichia coll. Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and less activity against Micrococcus luteus and Klebsiella sp. At low concentration the oil was also effective against S. aureus (Bisht et al. 2011).

The methanol extract of tubers of C. rotundus (250 and 500 mg/kg body weight) administered orally produced significant anti-diarrheal activity in castor oil-induced diarrhea in mice. When tested at 250 mg/kg, the petroleum ether fraction and residual methanol fraction were found to retain the activity, the latter being more active, compared to the control (Uddin et al. 2006).

Daswani et al. (2011) studied the anti-diarrheal activity of the decoction of C. rotundus tubers using representative assays of diarrheal pathogenesis. Antibacterial, antigiardial and antirotaviral activities were also studied. Effects on adherence of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and invasion of enteroinvasive E. coli and Shigella flexneri to HEp-2 cells were evaluated to measure the effect on colonization. Effect on enterotoxins such as enterotoxigenic E. coli, heat-labile toxin, heat-stable toxin and cholera toxin was also assessed. The decoction showed antigiardial activity, reduced bacterial adherence to and invasion of HEp-2 cells and affected production of cholera toxin and action of heat-labile toxin. The decoction of C. rotundus seems to exert the anti-diarrheal action by mechanisms other than direct killing of the pathogen.

Desmodium gangeticum (L.) DC

Known as Saliparni, Sthird, Trparni and Vidarigandha, Desmodium gangeticum is common on lower hills and plains throughout India (Figure 5.2) (Warrier et al. 2007d).

Kurian et al. (2005) tested the aqueous extract of D. gangeticum in isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarcted rats for hypocholesterolemic and antioxidant effects. After inducing myocardial infarction by isoproterenol, the aqueous extract of D. gangeticum root was orally administered daily for a period of 30 days. The activities of creatinine phosphokinase, lactate dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase increased in myocardial tissue, hepatic tissue and serum after induction of myocardial infarction. Pretreatment of the infarcted rats with the plant extract prevented the increase of these enzymes. The hypocholesterolemic effect of D. gangeticum was assessed by the concentration of total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and through the activities of the enzymes HMG CoA reductase and lecithin cholesterol acyl transferase in the myocardial tissue. Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances decreased and activities of glutathione reductase and catalase improved in the myocardial tissue of the treated rats, indicating the free radical scavenging activity of the extract.

The effect of methanol extract of D. gangeticum on lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in mitochondria and tissue homogenates of normal, ischemic and ischemia-reperfused rats was studied by Kurian et al. (2008). Myocardial lipid peroxidation products in cardiac tissue homogenates and mitochondrial fractions were significantly increased during ischemia reperfusion. Antioxidant enzymes in the myocardial tissue homogenate and mitochondria showed significant decrease during ischemia reperfusion, followed by decreased activity of mitochondrial respiratory enzymes. Daily oral feeding of rats with methanol extract of D. gangeticum for 30 days produced a significant effect on the activity of mitochondrial and antioxidant enzymes. The extract inhibited lipid peroxidation, and also scavenged hydroxyl and superoxide radicals. The results of this study showed that D. gangeticum possesses the ability to scavenge free radicals generated during ischemia and ischemia reperfusion, thereby preserving the mitochondrial respiratory enzymes that offer cardioprotection. Aqueous extract of D. gangeticum is reported to improve the antioxidant status of the heart and

D. gangeticum. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty

FIGURE 5.2 D. gangeticum. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty.

attenuate the degree of lipid peroxidation after ischemia reperfusion (Kurian and Paddikkala 2009). The aqueous root extract is also known to protect the mitochondrial and sarcoplasmic ATPase in the myocardium, resulting in improvement of cardiac function after ischemia reperfusion injury (Kurian and Padikkala 2010).

Evolvulus alsinoides (L.) L.

Evolvulus alsinoides is a small, hairy, procumbent, diffuse herb with small woody root stock. It bears light blue flowers. It is known by various names, such as Visnukrdnta, NTlapuspa and Aparajita (Warrier et al. 2007c). Purohit et al. (1996) studied the anti-ulcer activity of E. alsinoides using the modified method of Shay et al. (1945). Alcohol extract of the herb was administered orally to ulcer-induced rats for five days. There was a significant decrease in free acidity and volume of gastric content of extract-treated rats when compared with controls. There was also a highly significant increase in the pH of the gastric content. The extract caused reduction in the intensity of gastric ulceration, evidenced by reduced ulcer index in the extract-treated group. The chloroform and ethyl acetate extracts of the herb possess significant anti-inflammatory activity when tested for their ability to reduce carrageenan and formalin-induced paw edema (Reddy and Rao 2013).

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