Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 141-147. 2007.



Lakman-yurvedic Drug of Controversial Origin



Dr. Amrit Pal Singh, PGDMB; BAMS; MD (Alternative Medicine)


Herbal Consultant, Ind-Swift Ltd, Chandigarh

Address for correspondence:

Dr. Amrit Pal Singh,

House No: 2101 Phase-7,

Mohali-160062, India




Issued 19 July 2008





Lakman is an important medicinal plant of yurveda, the ancient system of healing. Lakman is type of kantkri, a medicinal plant widely used in yurveda in the treatment of respiratory diseases. Lakman has been described as white variety of kantkr, making it possible representative of Natural Order Solanaceae. Kantkr is ingredient of damla, the yurvedic anti-inflammatory. The drug is of high interest as it has been mentioned as possible treatment of female infertility. Bhvamira, an ancient yurvedic physician, however mentions kantkr for promoting conception in females.


Lakman in ancient texts


Bhvprakash Nighantu


Synonyms: Svet, kudr, candrahsa, ketradutik, garbhad, candrm, candr, candapup and priyankari.


Actions: Pungent, laxative, appetizer, light and hot in potency.


Therapeutics: Cough, asthma, fever, chronic rhinitis, myalgia, worm infestation and heart ailments. It pacifies vta and kapha.


In the text on Bhvprakash Nighantu, compiled by Dr Vishwanath Drivedi, however there is no mention that lakman is useful for treating infertility among women. The author has mentioned same properties for both varieties of kantkri.




Raj Nighantu


Synonyms: Sitkantarik, svet, ketradut, sitsimh, sitksudr, ksudravrtrkin, sit, klinn, katuvrtrk, ksetraj, kapatesvar, nisnehaphal, rm, sitkant, mahuadi, gardabhi, candrik, cndr, candapup, priyankari, nkul, durlabh and rsn.


Actions: Pungent, laxative, appetizer, light and hot in potency. It pacifies vta and kapha.


Therapeutics: Loss of appetite and eye-ailments.


Use in alchemy: Lakman is useful for regulation of prada.




Dhanwantri Nighantu


The author has described lakman as variety of brahat.


Synonyms: Kshetradut, sitsnihi, kuvartik, sushvet, kantkr, durlabha and mahusadi.


Actions and therapeutics: Bitter, pacifies Vta and Kapha and cures indigestion and cough.


Medicinal plants of Solanaceae in yurveda:


Several medicinal plants of Natural Order Solanaceae found application in yurvedic formulations. Kantkr (Solanum xanthocarpum Schrad et Wendl., Solanum surattense Burm.f., Solanum virginianum L.), kkmac (Solanum nigrum L.), brahat (Solanum indicum L.) and Solanum trilobatum L. are some important plants.


Kantkri (Solanum xanthocarpum Schrad et Wendl.)


Syn: Solanum surattense Burm.f., Solanum virginianum L.


English name: Yellow-berried-night shade


yurvedic names: Dhvani, duspara, duspradarisin, kantarik, kantkin, kudra, nidigdhik and vyghr.


Distribution: India, Ceylon and Pakistan.


Botany: It is prickly, much-branched herb, usually spreadig or diffuse; young branches are densly covered with minute star-sahped hair, pricles are yeloow, shining about 1.5 cm long. Leaves are upto 10 cm long, their midribs and other leaves with sharp, yellow prickles. Flowers are purple, about 2 cm long, few togehtehr in small brancjes, opposite to leaves. Fruit are 1.5-2.0 cm, round yellow or pale with green veins.


Chemical composition: It contains alkaloids (scopolamine, solanidine and solasonine), -sitosterol and steroid saponin (disogenin).


Actions: It acts as antitussive, bronchodilator, bitter, carminative and anodyne.


Therapeutics: Solanum xanthocarpum is primarily used in the treatment of chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. Given with honey, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), datura (Datura metal), and black pepper it can be effective in cases of bronchial asthma. Expressed juice of the berries is used in sore throat. Flowers and fruits are used to resolve burning sensation of the feet. Levees are used to relieve pain locally.


Formulations: Kantkryavleha and vyghriharitak are important medicinal preparations of kantkri.


Pre-clinical studies: Animal investigations have demonstrated anti-nociceptive, antispermatogenic and hypotensive activities of Kantkri. Fruits and shoots have been reported to be antibacterial.


Clinical studies: Clinical efficacy of Solanum xanthocarpum was studied in bronchial asthma in a pilot study. Solanum xanthocarpum demonstrated anti-asthmatic effect in terms of various parameters of pulmonary function. However, the effect was less when compared to standard bronchodilators.

Possible representatives of lakman


Ipomoea muricata (L.) Jacq. and Cynoglossum lanceolatum Forssk. have been discussed as possible representatives for ancient vedic drug lakman.


Ipomoea muricata (L.) Jacq.


Syn: Calonyction muricatum (L.) G. Don, Ipomoea turbinata Lag., Canvolvulus muricatus L., Ipomoea muricata Jacq., Convolvulus colubrinus Blanco


Common name: Purple moonflower. The seeds of Ipomoea muricata are largely imported into Bombay, from Persia, under the name of tukm-i-nil.

Distribution: Native to Eastern India and Bangladesh.

Family: Convolvulaceae.

Botany: Perennial vining climber to 30 feet. It is a rare climber, sporting unusual aerial rootless and white, funnel-shaped blossoms in the second year.

Chemical composition: Work done in Philippines has demonstrated presence of indolizidine alkaloids in the seeds. Two resin glycosides and muricatins VII and VIII have been isolated from the seeds

Actions: According to Vedic myth and Hindu practice, the plant is an aphrodisiac and mystically used in tantric lovemaking. Salve rubbed into the forehead [third eye].

Therapeutics: The juice of this plant is employed to destroy bedbugs, and the seeds are said to be identical in their medicinal properties with those of the official plant. Ipomoea muricata (L.) Jacq, locally known as 'Tonkin', has been used for generations by the Dominicans in the Philippines for medicinal purposes. The seeds, stems and leaves are said to be effective in treating several types of skin ailments such as chronic and gangrenous wounds, cuts and blisters due to burns.

Pre-clinical studies: Analgesic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antifungal compounds were also identified.

Cynoglossum lanceolatum Forssk.


Dr Mishra in his work on rare yurvedic drugs has indicated Cynoglossum lanceolatum as possible candidate for lakman.


Common name: Purple moonflower. The seeds of Ipomoea muricata are largely imported into Bombay, from Persia, under the name of tukm-i-nil.

Distribution: Common throughout parts of Africa and Asia. It is distributed in Madagascar also.

Family: Boraginaceae.

Botany: Annual or biennial herb, the taproot 1-8 mm in diam.; stems erect, to c. 1 m tall, with sparse to moderate, appressed to spreading pubescence. Basal leaves in an evident rosette or smaller plants apparently immediately erect and lacking a basal rosette. Inflorescences terminal, once to several times dichotomously branched cymes, the branches strigillose; flowers on pedicels 1-7 mm long, bisexual; sepals narrowly ovate. Fruits 4.5-5.5 mm broad; nutlets ovoid, 2-3 mm broad.

Chemical composition: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: cynaustralin (C15H28ClNO4) and cynaustine.


Solanum ferox L.


Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) has mentioned Solanum ferox as possible candidate for lakman.


Syn: Solanum lasiocarpum Dunal, Solanum zeilanicum Blanco


Common name: Tarambulo (Philippines).

Distribution: Philippines, North east India, Malaya and South China.

Family: Solanaceae.

Botany: Solanum ferox is a small weed, suberect, prickly, hairy herb 0.5 to 1.5 meters in height the leaves are ovate, 15 to 20 cm long, 12 to 23 cm wide, lobed at the margins, and densely covered with stiff wooly hairs above and woolly hairs and prickly spines on the nerves beneath; the lobes are triangular, and 2.5 to 4 cm deep. The flowers are borne on lateral racemes. Fruit is yellow, rounded, 2.5 to 3.5 cm in diameter, densely covered with needle like hairs, and man-seeded.

Chemical composition: Seeds contain fatty acids.

Therapeutics: In Philippines, leaves of the plant are used as cataplasma for indolent swellings. Decoction is used in syphilis. Seeds are useful in toothache.



Proper identification of ancient drug lakman is a debatable topic. The drug has been mentioned as cure for female infertility in ancient texts. Further, it is considered to be type of kantkr. Disogenin has been reported from various Solanum species like Solanum xanthocarpum Schrad et Wendl. and Solanum khasianum C.B.Clarke. Fruits of thsese species are in high demand for production of progesterones of natural origin. These are prized drugs for curing conditions like infertility and habitual abortions (Mmatches with the ancient claim)


Solanum khasianum has white flowers. Ancient texts have not mentoined detailed morphology of lakman, but presence of white flowers and pricels have been mentoined. Work on Solanum khasianum as possible representative of lakman is warranted.


In our view; morphology of Ipomoea muricata (L.) Jacq. and Cynoglossum lanceolatum Forssk. does not resemble with that of lakman described in ancient texts. Ipomoea muricata is a climber and Cynoglossum lanceolatum is an herb without spines.




Chhote, L., Chunekar, K.C. (1985) - Study of lakman in Samhitas, Sachitra Ayurved 37, 10, 601-605.


Garg, S.K., Gupta, D.R. (2006). Chemical Examination of the Seed Fat of Solanum ferox L. Fette, Seifen, Anstrichimittel. 68(6):449-450.


Govindan, S.; Viswanathan, S.; Vijayasekaran, V. and Alagappan, R. (1999). Journal of Ethno pharmacology. 66(2):205-10.


Heble, M. R., Narayanaswami,S. (1968). Diosgenin and -Sitosterol: Isolation from Solanum xanthocarpum Tissue Cultures. Science 161(3846): 1145


Karnick, C.R. (1976b) - On the correct identity of the plants termed as lakman "; a comparative, botanical, chemical, pharmacological, and Ayurvedic confirmation, National Medical Gazette 15, 1-9.


Mafel, C. (1999). Ysrael. Tonkin herbal drug: a multidisciplinary approach to development. Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation. 29(3-4): 247-251.


Mali, P. C., M. Chaturvedi, et al. (1996). Journal of Phytological Research. 9(1): 13-17.


Sharma, N., Sharma, A.K., Zafar, R. (1990). Indole alkaloids in the callus culture of Ipomoea muricata Linn. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 52(2): 111-2.


Singh, A.P. (2005). Dravyaguna Vijnana. Gupta, A. Chaukhambha Orientalia, New Delhi.


Singh, A.P. (2007). Bhavapraksha Nighantu. Gupta, A. Chaukhambha Orientalia, New Delhi.


Singh, A.P. (2007). Dhanwantri Nighantu. Gupta, A. Chaukhambha Orientalia, New Delhi.


Singh, A.P. (2007). Raj Nighantu Gupta, A. Chaukhambha Orientalia, New Delhi.


Verma, R (1975) - Lakman. Dhanvantri 49.2/3, 320-323.


Yadev, C.L., Chunekar, K.C. (1984) - The Wonder yurvedic lakman for progeny. A historical appraisal. IJHS 19, 3,272-278.


Ysrael, M.C., Waterman, P., Nonato, M.G. (1997)- Identification of phenylpropanoids, phenylpropanoid glucosides and a phenylethanol diglucoside from Ipomoea muricata Jacq. Convolvulaceae. Acta-Manilana (Philippines). 45: 13-20.


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