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Glycyrrhiza glabra L.

Known as Yastimadhu (sweet wood) in Sanskrit, this is a tall, perennial, under-shrub. Its dried, underground stems and roots are sweet and used in Ayurveda for a variety of purposes. The licorice of commerce is the dried underground stems and roots (Figure 5.3). Its Sanskrit synonyms are Madhukam, Madhudrava, Madhuyasti and Yastimadhfikam (Warrier et al. 2007c).

Roots of G. glabra. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty

FIGURE 5.3 Roots of G. glabra. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty.

Several reports are available on the wound-healing property of G. glabra. Zaki et al. (2005) studied the healing effect of licorice extract on open skin wounds in adult New Zealand rabbits. Full-thickness wounds (15x15 mm) were made on the shaven areas of the rabbits. Creams incorporating 5%, 10% and 15% (w/w) of hydroalcohol extract were prepared and applied twice daily. Dexpanthenol ointment was used as the standard control. Healing was assessed by reduction in wound area. Results of this study proved that 10% licorice cream was a potent healing agent, showing results better than dexpanthenol cream.

Recently Zangeneh et al. (2019) investigated the wound-healing potential of ointment prepared with G. glabra aqueous extract. After creating the cutaneous wounds, the animals were randomly divided into four groups and treated with 3% G. glabra aqueous extract ointment, Eucerin ointment or 3% tetracycline ointment. At days 10, 20 and 30, G. glabra aqueous extract ointment could significantly decrease the level of the wound area and enhance the level of wound contraction. The content of fibrocyte, hexuronic acid and hydroxyproline was increased in comparison with the basal ointment and control groups. The study demonstrated that the aqueous extract of G. glabra accelerated wound-healing activity in experimental models.

Recurrent aphthous ulcers are among the most common oral mucosal diseases found in children and adults (Messier et al. 2012). These ulcers have varied etiology that includes bacterial infection by Streptococcus sanguinis, genetics, autoimmune causes and folic acid deficiency. Recurrent aphthous ulcers are treated by relieving pain, promoting healing and preventing secondary infection (Zunt 2001).

Investigators have recently focused their attention on the effect of licorice on pain control and reduction of the healing time of aphthous ulcers. Burgess et al. (2008) reported that Canker Melts GX patches which contain licorice extract alter the course of the aphthous ulcers by reduction of lesion duration, size and pain, thereby speeding the healing process. In a randomized, doubleblind clinical trial involving 23 subjects, Martin et al. (2008) observed an improvement in ulcer size and pain using a dissolving oral patch containing licorice extract for up to 8 days, compared to the use of a placebo patch. According to the results of a recent study licorice bioadhesive can be effective in the reduction of pain, the inflammatory halo and the necrotic center of aphthous ulcers (Moghadamnia et al. 2009).

Hygrophila auriculata (K. Schum.) Heine

H. auriculata is an herbaceous, medicinal plant growing in marshy places. In Ayurveda it is known as Kokilaksa, on account of the similarity of the color of the flower to the eyes of the Indian cuckoo (Figure 5.4). It is used in the treatment of several diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (Warrier et al. 2007c).

The first report on the successful treatment of Vatasonita, using Hygrophila spinosa was published 133 years ago in the British Medical Journal (Jayesingha 1887). Six patients admitted to the Civil Hospital, Kurunagala, Ceylon were treated with infusion of the herb and four of them were successfully cured of their dropsy. A typical case report reads thus:

Case vi.-Adrian, aged 30; male; civil condition, single; race, Singalese; birthplace, Myombo. This was a Singalese man. native of Myombo, but living from his younger days at Polgahawella as a cultivator; admitted into hospital on February 7th, 1887, suffering with extensive general dropsy depending on anemia. His condition on admission was the following: face pale and bloated, conjunctivae and tongue pale and bloodless, heart-sounds normal, abdomen distended with fluid, appetite fair, bowels regular, urine scanty, feet oedematous. He was put upon thymol, santonin and extract of opium, but he did not pass any anchylostoma duodenale; then he was put upon squilla and tinct. digitalis, and subsequently on iron, and finding no improvement, he was treated with small doses of liq. arsenicalis, and as there was no diminution in dropsy, he was put upon inf. asteracantha from March 20th. and continued till the end of the month. During that period he passed from 80 to 104 ounces of urine a day. He was discharged from the hospital cured of his dropsy on April 9th, 1887.

(Jayesingha 1887)

Patra et al. (2009) investigated the anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities of the petroleum ether, chloroform, alcoholic and aqueous extracts of the leaf of H. spinosa. Anti-inflammatory activity of the extracts was studied in rats, using carrageenan-induced paw edema. Antipyretic activity was evaluated on the basis of the effects on Brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia in rats. Chloroform and alcoholic extracts of leaves of H. spinosa produced significant anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities in a dose-dependent manner. However, petroleum ether and aqueous extracts did not show significant anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities. These two extracts also reduced elevated

body temperature in rats at 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight doses throughout the observation period of 6 hours.

The herb shows significant diuretic activity, as reported by Hussain et al. (2009). The alcohol extract of H. auriculata at doses of 200 mg/kg caused a significant increase in the total urine volume and concentrations of Na+, K+ and Cl in the urine in the rats. This finding supports its traditional use.

Ipomoea mauritiana Jacq

I. mauritiana grows in the moist regions of tropical India. It is known as KsTraviddri, Payasvini and BhUmikUsmanda. The tubers are galactagogue, cholagogue and demulcent (Warrier et al. 2007c). Mahajan et al. (2015) carried out an investigation to validate the folkloric claim of the aphrodisiac potential of I. digitata, using neem oil-induced sterile male albino rats. Experimental animals were made sterile by feeding emulsified neem oil for 15 days. Thereafter, they were administered orally with two doses of I. digitata root powder (250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg body weight) suspended in water twice daily for 40 days. Changes in organ weight, sperm density, sperm motility, serum levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and histological changes were measured to evaluate the effect of treatment. Significant increase in sperm density and sperm motility, along with increase in the weight of testes and epididymis were observed in rats made infertile with neem oil and treated with I. digitata root powder at both dose levels. Both the doses produced a concomitant increase in the serum levels of testosterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Testes of albino rats treated with /. digitata showed presence of spermatozoa and sperm bundle, confirming the restoration of spermatogenesis.

A major characteristic of defective human spermatozoa is the presence of large amounts of DNA damage, which is largely oxidative and is closely associated with defects in spermiogenesis. Spermiogenesis is disrupted by oxidative stress, leading to the production of defective gametes with poorly remodeled chromatin that are particularly susceptible to free radical attack. To worsen the situation, these defective cells have a tendency to undergo an unusual form of apoptosis associated with high amounts of superoxide generation by the sperm mitochondria. This leads to significant oxidative DNA damage that eventually culminates in the DNA fragmentation found in infertile patients (Aitken and Curry 2011). Studies have shown that the tuberous root of I. digitata possesses considerable antioxidant activity (Alagumanivasagam et al. 2010, 2011). It is plausible that the free radical scavenging activity of I. digitata may be responsible for its aphrodisiac properties.


It is a middle-sized, graceful tree with corky grey bark and easily breakable branches (Figure 5.5). The root, bark, leaf and seeds are used. Sigru, Sobhanjana, Svitaddru and STghraphald are some of its Sanskrit names (Warrier et al. 2007d).

Fouad et al. (2019) attempted to isolate the bacteria from abscesses in camels and evaluated the antibacterial activity of M. oleifera extracts. Abscess in camels is one of the most important bacterial infections, causing anemia and emaciation. The disk diffusion method and minimum inhibitory concentration were used for the evaluation of the antibacterial activity of M. oleifera extracts against isolated bacteria from camel abscesses. The following bacteria were isolated from the abscesses: Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, Corynebacterium ulcerans, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Micrococcus spp., Proteus vulgaris, Citrobacter spp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The ethanol extracts of M. oleifera showed pronounced antibacterial activity against all the tested organisms. This shows that M. oleifera can be used for controlling pyogenic bacteria.

M. oleifera root bark also possesses antibacterial activity, as reported by Dewangan et al. (2010). The antibacterial activity of different extracts of root bark was tested against Staphylococcus aureus,

M. oleifera with fruits. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty

FIGURE 5.5 M. oleifera with fruits. Reproduced with permission from Dr D. Suresh Baburaj, Ooty.

Escherichia coli, Salmonella gallinarum and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms showed variable sensitivity to different extracts of M. oleifera root bark prepared using methanol, acetone, ethyl acetate, chloroform and water. While ethyl acetate and acetone extracts showed maximum antibacterial activity, the aqueous extract had minimum activity against the test organisms.

Methanol extract of the root of M. oleifera was screened by Ezeamuzie et al. (1996) for antiinflammatory effect using the rat paw edema and the rat 6-day air pouch inflammatory models. Orally administered extract inhibited carrageenan-induced rat paw edema in a dose-dependent manner. On the 6-day air pouch acute inflammation induced with carrageenan, the extract was much more potent. When delayed (chronic) inflammation was induced in the 6-day air pouch model using Freund’s complete adjuvant, the extract was still effective, though less than in acute inflammation. The results suggest that the root of M. oleifera contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may be useful in the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory conditions

The immunomodulatory potential of M. oleifera stem bark in lipopolysaccharide-induced human monocytic cell line THP-1 was evaluated by Vasanth et al. (2015). Lipopolysaccharide-induced THP-1 cell showed significant increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, IL-6 and IL-lp), nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species. Pretreatment with M. oleifera stem bark showed marked inhibition of production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, IL-6 and IL-lp) in lipopolysaccharide-induced THP-1 cells. There was also significant inhibition of nitric oxide and R.O.S. generation, which is a critical step mediating immune response.

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