Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 721-42, 2010.
Ethno-Medicinal Profile of Different Plant Parts of Calotropis procera (Ait.) R. Br.
Raginee Verma, G.P. Satsangi and J.N. Shrivastava
Microbiology Lab., Department of Botany, DEI, Dayalbagh, Agra, India
Issued: July 01, 2010
The present paper reviews the literature on recent ethno medicinal uses of every plant part of Calotropis procera (1968-2009) and its medicinal properties used for the treatment of various ailments as in the case of many types of fevers, rheumatism, indigestion, cough, cold, eczema, asthma, elephantiasis, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, etc. The review includes accounts of medicinal values of all parts of the plant that have been used in folk medicine as a remedy. The name and parts of the plant studied, the spectrum of activity, and methods used are discussed in this review paper.
Key words: Calotropis procera; traditional medicines; ethno-medicinal use.
The herbal medicines occupy distinct position right from the primitive period to present day. The ethnobotanical pharmacology is as old as man himself. These medicines have less side effects and man can get the herbs easily from nature. India being a tropical country is blessed with vast natural resources and ancient knowledge for its judicious utilization. However, in order to make these remedies acceptable to modern medicine, there is a need to scientifically evaluate them, to identify the active principles and to understand the mechanism of action (Ashok Vaidya, 1998). Calotorpis procera in India holds a pride of place largely because of its other uses and economic values. The genus Calotropis R.Br. (Asclepiadaceous) is distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa (The wealth of India, 1959). It is represented in India by two species viz. C. procera and C. gigantean.
Calotropis procera (Ait.) R. Br., a wild growing plant of family Asclepiadaceae, is well known for its medicinal properties. Different parts of this plant have been reported to exhibit anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties. It is found in most parts of the world in dry, sandy and alkaline soils and warm climate and is more common in south western and central India and western Himalayas. It is found in waste lands and grows as a weed in agricultural lands. In ancient Ayurvedic medicines the plant Calotropis procera was known as Rakta arka.
Morphologically the plant is erect, tall, large, much branched and perennial shrub or small tree that grows on a height of 5.4m, with milky latex throughout. Bark is soft and corky, branches stout, leaves sub sessile, opposite, decussate, broadly ovate, oblong, elliptic or obovate, acute, thick, glaceous, green coloured with fine cottony pubescent hair on young. Flowers in umbellate cymes and tomentose on young. Seeds broadly ovate, acute, flattened, minutely tomentose, brown coloured and silky.
Most of the research papers, research articles and review papers were consulted and compiled. The useful material regarding the information of ethno medicinal aspects of C. procera were collected from time to time and summarized in present paper. This paper recovers the traditional medicinal values of each and every part of the selected the plant (C. procera).
A number of research papers, articles and review papers treat the ethno medicinal aspects of this plant. Table 1, 2 and Fig. 1 showing the percentage of ethnomedicinal uses of different plant parts of C. procera.
Table 1. Ethno medicinal uses of different plant parts of C. procera.
Table 2. Percentage of ethno medicinal uses of different plant parts of C. procera against total number of uses.
Fig.1. Graphical presentation of ethno medicinal uses of different plant parts of C. procera.
Fig.2. Graphical presentation of ethno medicinal uses of different plant parts of C. procera.
This ethno-medico-botanical study on the plant Calotropis procera has revealed the enormous diversity of its medicinal uses and popular use of the plant C. procera for a wide range of common ailments like fevers, rheumatism, indigestion, cough, cold, eczema, asthma, elephantiasis, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Either the whole plant or a plant part used singly or mixed with other plant materials to enhance the efficacy.
Plant based drugs have been in use against various diseases since the time immemorial. The primitive man used herbs as therapeutic agents and medicament, which they were able to procure easily. The nature has provided plant wealth for all living creature, which possess medicinal virtues (Bhatti et al, 1998). Medicinal plants are an important source of drugs in traditional system of medicine (Sher and Hussain, 1998a). They are valuable natural resources and regarded as potentially safe drugs. In addition, they are playing an important role in alleviating human suffering by contributing herbal medicines in primary health care system of rural and remote areas where more than 70% of population depends on folklore and traditional system of medicines. The reason for their popularity is due to high cost of allopathic medicines and side effects.
Medicinal plants have been used since prehistoric period for the cure of various diseases. Since these are in common use by the local people and are of great importance thats why a lot of people are engaged in the trade of important medicinal herbs throughout the world (Elisabetsky, 1990). Especially, people living in villages have been using indigenous plants as medicines since ages because this knowledge transfers from generation to generation and is based on life long experiences. Besides, the villages are far away from cities and mostly lack proper health facilities (Shinwari and khan, 2000).
This field is well established and a lot of work has been done worldwide. Radhakrishman et al (1998) reported ethnobotanical information on Ulteria salicifolia, a monotypic species endemic to south Western Ghats of peninsular India and gave its taxonomic identity, distribution pattern and affinity to an allied genus for the first time. Beyra et al (2004) carried out an ethnobotanical survey from Camaguey, Cuba and reported 111 plant species belonging to 96 genera and 55 families from the study area. These species are used in the treatment of 173 local health problems in the study area. Bondya & Sharma (2004) conducted a survey of medicinal plants used in diabetes in Jharkhand and collected 11 plant species with remarkable uses. Buckingham (1991) reported that there are total of 2,50,000 species of flowering plants in the world, much less than animal species (5-10 million) however, plants contribute to our lives more than animals mainly due to their extra ordinary array of diverse classes of biochemicals with a variety of biological activities. Ji et al (2004) reported the medico-ethnobotany of Nujiang, Northwest Yunnan, and China. They described 52 medicinal plant species belonging to 32 families used for the treatment of various human ailments. Among them, 11 species were reported as rare and 16 were commercially utilized.
The indigenous traditional knowledge of herbal plants of communities where it has been transmitted orally for many years is fast disappearing from the face of world due to transformation of traditional culture. The people, who are native to the area in which the plants occur, use around 90% of the medicinal species (Baquar, 1989). This is indicative of the vast repository of knowledge of plant medicine that is still available for global use, provided of course that it does not get lost before it can be tapped or documented. Traditional and indigenous medical knowledge of plants, both oral and codified, are undoubtedly eroding (Mujtaba and Khan, 2007). In the present scenario, traditional knowledge system in our country is fast eroding and there is an urgent need to inventoried, record all ethno-botanical and cultural information among the diverse ethnic communities before the traditional cultures are completely lost. Therefore, documentation of information on ethno-medicinal uses will help in conserving the knowledge. A comprehensive database of the plants used for various purposes could be saved for the forthcoming generations.
This information about medicinal values of C. procera has paramount importance in life and how these ethno herbal data have key role in life. Moreover, it can be initiative for further phytochemical and pharmacological investigations about the medicinal use of the plant, which may be a step ahead towards the new drug development.
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