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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2009, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (11): 1001-1022.doi: 10.3736/jcim20091101

• Review •     Next Articles

An update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition-boosting Ayurvedic medicine

Neeraj Kumar Sethiyaa,Alok Nahatab,Shri Hari Miahraa,Vinod Kumar Dixitb   

  1. a Herbal Drug Technology Labaratory, Department of Pharmacy, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, India
    b Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar 470003 (MP) , India
  • Received:2009-07-13 Accepted:2009-09-23 Online:2009-11-20 Published:2009-11-15
  • Contact: Neeraj Kumar Sethiya E-mail:nscognosy2006@gmail.com

Shankhpushpi is an Ayurvedic drug used for its action on the central nervous system, especially for boosting memory and improving intellect. Quantum of information gained from Ayurvedic and other Sanskrit literature revealed the existence of four different plant species under the name of Shankhpushpi, which is used in various Ayurvedic prescriptions described in ancient texts, singly or in combination with other herbs. The sources comprise of entire herbs with following botanicals viz., Convulvulus pluricaulis Choisy. (Convulvulaceae), Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. (Convulvulaceae), Clitoria ternatea Linn. (Papilionaceae) and Canscora decussata Schult. (Gentianaceae). A review on the available scientific information in terms of pharmacognostical characteristics, chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, preclinical and clinical applications of controversial sources of Shankhpushpi is prepared with a view to review scientific work undertaken on Shankhpushpi. It may provide parameters of differentiation and permit appreciation of variability of drug action by use of different botanical sources.

Key words: Convulvulus pluricaulis , Evolvulus alsinoides ,  Clitorea ternatea, Canscora decussata , medicine, Ayurvedic, cognition disorders

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Taxonomic hierarchy E. alsinoides C. pluricaulis C. ternatea C. decussata
Kingdom Plantae Plantae Plantae Plantae
Sub-kingdom Tracheobionta Tracheobionta Tracheobionta Tracheobionta
Super-division Spermatophyta Spermatophyta Spermatophyta Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta Magnoliophyta Magnoliophyta Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida Magnoliopsida Magnoliopsida Magnoliopsida
Sub-class Asteridae Asteridae Rosidae Asteridae
Order Solanales Solanales Fabales Gentianales
Family Convolvulaceae Convolvulaceae Fabaceae Gentianaceae
Genus Evolvulus Convulvulus Clitorea Canscora
Species alsinoides pluricaulis ternatea decussata

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Evaluated characteristics E. alsinoides C. pluricaulis C. ternatea C. decussata
Habit Diffuse, perennial herb Prostrate, perennial
herbs
Ornamental perennial
climber
Erect, branching,
annual herb
Stem structure
Length 8–10 branches, from
central stock (35–40 cm)
Several prostrate
stems (10–30 cm)
20–45 cm, splintery,
fibrous
20–60 cm, opposite
decussate branches
Surface Pubescent Clothed with silky hairs Smooth Glabrous
Internodes 7–10 mm 10–12 mm 6–13 cm Usually 3.5–4.5 cm, up to 6.2 cm
Taste Tasteless Tasteless Bitter Bitter
Outline in T.S. Terete, wings absent Terete, wings absent Terete, wings absent Annular with four wings
Cuticle Ridged Striated Ridged Ridged
Trichomes covering Present,unequally
biarmed
Present, conical, unicellular Present, with two basal cells, multicellular Absent
Glandular Present, stalk unicellular, head multicellular (8–
10 cells in 2–4 tiers)
Present, stalk unicellular,
head multicellular
(four cells)
Present, stalk multicellular, head unicellular Absent
Chlorenchyma Present Present Present Absent
Collenchyma Present Present Present Absent
Endodermis Indistinct Indistinct Indistinct Distinct
Pericyclic fibers Present Present Present Absent
Phloem fibers Absent Present in old stem only Present Absent
Pith Core hollow Often an angular hollow, cells pitted in older stem Pitted with slopting end Intact, cells pitted when mature
Leaf structure
Phyllotaxy Alternate Alternate Opposite Opposite decussate
Shape Elliptic-oblong Linear, lower Oblanc-
eolate,upper elliptic
Imparipinnate, ovate or oblong Oblong, lanceolate
Size (8–12) mm×
(5–7) mm
(12–38) mm×
(5–10) mm
(2–5) cm×
(1–2) cm
(25–38) mm×
(8–15) mm
Apex Mucronate Obtuse-muronate Mucronate Acute
Surface Pubescent Hairy Hairy Glabrous
Midrib
Outline in T.S. Plano-convex, dorsal
bulge prominent
Concavo-convex Concavo-convex,
dorsiventral
Concavo-convex, dorsal
bulge irregularly lobed
Collenchyma Present on either side Present beneath
upper epidermis
Absent on either side
Calcium oxalate Present as rosette Plenty, along veins Prismatic crystal along
veins
Absent
Lamina Isobilateral, palisade in
2 layers on either side
Isobilateral, palisade in 3
and 2 layers beneath upper and lower epidermis respectively
Dorsiventral, palisade in either side Dorsiventral, palisade in 1 layer
Cuticle Striated Striated Striated, weavy Ridged
Trichomes Present, similar as in stem Present, similar as in stem Present, similar as in stem Absent
Stomata Both anisocytic and paracytic types on either side Both anisocytic and
paracytic types on
either side
Subcoriaceous, rubiaceous
stomata with wavy cells
present on both side
Anisocytic; upper
epidermis has a few
stomata
Quantitative analysis
Stomatal number
Upper surface 280–328–405 202–216–238 291–342–411 Very few
Lower surface 270–336–424 184–212–248 188–223–251 52–72–108
Stomatal index
Upper surface 14.5–15.5–16.5 17.0–18.0–19.9 16.9–18.0–19.1 Very few
Lower surface 15.7–17.0–18.7 13.8–15.8–16.9 14.8–16.3–17.2 16.9–21.0–24.6
Vein-islet number 18.0–19.0–20.0 21.0–23.0–25.0 7.5–8.0–9.0 1–2.5–3.25
Extractive value (w/w, %)
Water soluble 19.80 17.08 18.21 10.00
Alcohol soluble 18.20 14.04 16.14 13.92

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Phytochemistry E. alsinoides C. pluricaulis
Carbohydrates D-glucose, maltose, rhamnose, sucrose, starch and other carbohydrate[43,44,45].
Proteins and amino acids Ergot alkaloids[49, 50]. Proteins and amino acids [44, 45].
Alkaloids Betaine, shankhapushpine and evolvine[54,55,56,57]. Tropane alkaloids[58]. Only convolamine has been identified, but other alkaloids (convoline, convolidine, convolvine, confoline, convosine, etc.) were found in other species from this family[59,60,61,62,63,64,65,66]. The plant contains alkaloid shankhapushpine (C17H25NO2), melting point from 162 ℃ to 164 ℃[62].
Fatty acids/Volatile oil/Fixed oil Fresh plant contains volatile oil. It also contains a yellow neutral fat, an organic acid and saline substances. An unidentified compound has been isolated[13].
Stearic, oleic, linoleic acid with magnesium phosphate. Palmitic, 8-methyldecanoic and heptadecanoic acids have been reported[57, 69].
Volatile oil[62], fatty acids, fatty alcohols & hydrocarbons, myristic acid (30.9%), palmitic acid (66.8 %) and linoleic acid (2.3%), straight chain hydrocarbon, hextriacontane[70, 71].
Phenolics/Glycosides/
Triterpenoid/Steroids
Scopoletin, scopolin, umbelliferone, 2-methyl-1, 2, 3, 4-butanetetrol, ferulic acid esters with alcohols C14-C17. 2,3,4-trihydroxy-3-methylbutyl 3-[3-hydroxy-4-(2,3,4-trihydroxy-2-methylbutoxy) pheny-l]-2 propionate and 1, 3-di-O-caffeoyl quinic acid methyl ester, caffeic acid, 6-methoxy-7-O-β-glucopyranoside coumarin, 2-C-methyl erythritol, kaempferol-7-O-β-glucopyranoside, kaempferol-3-O-β glucopyranoside and quecetine-3-O-β-glucopyranoside were reported from n-BuOH soluble fraction from the ethanol extract of E.alsinoides[76, 77]. Penttriacontane, triacontane and β-sitosterol are found in petroleum ether extract[57]. Flavonols, flavonoids, saponins, the alkanes, phenolics, and tannins[54-56, 78-80]. EA-1, a phytochemical marker has been isolated by preparative TLC and characterized by IR, FAB-MS, NMR and elemental analysis techniques[81]. Estimation of scopoletin by spectrofluriometry[82]. Deshpande & Srivastava (1969) carried out a chemical examination of the whole plant of C. pluricaulis and reported the presence of scopoletin, β-sitosterol and ceryl alcohol[70]. Chloroform fraction of this contains 20-oxodotriacontanol, tetratriacontanoic acid and 29-oxodotriacontanol, flavonoid-kampferol, steroids-phytosterols, β-sitosterol[62]. CP-1, a phytochemical marker has been isolated and characterized by HPTLC technique[81]. Estimation of scopoletin by HPTL in Cp and its formulation[82,83]. Estimation of scopoletin by spectrofluriometry[84].
Plant growth regulator Phytohormones[16]

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Phytochemistry C. ternatea C. decussata
Carbohydrates Water-soluble mucilage, delphinidin 3, 3, 5-triglucoside[46]. Oligosaccharides or flutulene[47]. Mucilage contains anhydrog-acatan, anhydropentosan and methyl-pentosan[48].
Proteins and amino acids Amino acids and amides[51], characterization of amino acid[52]. Protein finotin and three unidentified trypsin inhibitors[53].
Alkaloids An alkaloid[48, 67]. Alkaloid[68].
Fatty acids/Volatile oil/Fixed oil Palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids[72,73,74,75]. The seeds yield a greenish-yellow fixed oil[52].
Phytochemistry C. ternatea C. decussata
Phenolics/Glycosides/
Triterpenoid/Steroids
P-hydroxycinnamic acid, flavonol-3-glycoside, ethyl-α-D-galactopyranoside, adenosine, 3, 5, 7, 4-tetrahydroxyflavone, 3-rhamnoglucoside, a polypeptide, hexacosanol, β-sitosterol, γ-sitosterol and an anthoxanthin glucoside[85,86,87,88]. Terntains (blue anthocyanins)[89]. The six major anthocyanins ternatins were isolated and the structures were characterized as malonylated delphinidin 3, 3', 5'-triglucosides having 3', 5'- side chains with alternative D-glucose and p-coumaric acids unit[90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97,98]. Flavanol glycosides, kaempferol, quercetin, lactones aparajitin and clitorin[99,100,101,102,103,104,105], delphinidin[106], acylated anthocyanins[94], flavonoids, malonylated flavonol glycosides[105, 106]. Yadava & Verma (2003) isolated antimicrobial flavonol glycoside[107]. Banerjee and Chakravarti (1963-1964) reported the isolation and identification of pentacyclic triterpenoid, taraxerol and taraxerone from the roots[108, 109]. Content of taraxerol in root of CT was determined through HPTLC[110]. Xanthone[56, 68, 111, 112], (-)-loliolides[113], 1, 3, 5-tri and 1, 3, 5, 6, 7-penta oxygenated xanthones[114], 1-hydroxy-3, 7, 8 -trimethoxy, 1, 8-dihydroxy-3,7-dimethoxy, 1, 7-dihydroxy-3, 8-dimethoxy and 1,7,8-trihydroxy-3-methoxy xanthones [115]. Ghosal (1971) isolated known and new triterpines[68], lanostane triterpenoids[116]. Simultaneous estimation of mangiferin and scopoletin by spectrofluriometry[117].
Plant growth regulator Indole acetic acid, kinetin, ABA and gibberelic acid[118, 119].

Figure 1

Chemical structures of antistress components isolated from E. alsinoides"

Figure 2

Chemical structures of antistress components isolated from C. pluricaulis"

Figure 3

Chemical structures of antistress components isolated from C. ternatea"

Figure 4

Structures of different xanthones isolated from C. decussata"

Figure 5

Structures of different lanostane triterpenoids isolated from C.decussata"

Figure 6

Structures of different loliolides isolated from C.decussata"

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arts/Extract/Compound used E. alsinoides C. pluricaulis C. ternatea C.decussata
Toxicological studies
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[121] [122, 123] [124-126] [127]
Learning and memory enhancing, enhancement of acetylcholine content
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[128-131] [122, 123, 132] [120, 124, 133-138] Not reported
Nootropic activity/Anxiolytic activity/Tranquillizing property/Antidepressant activity/Antistress activity/
Neurodegenerative/Antiamensic/CNS
Roots and aerial parts/Alcoholic extract/
Methanolic extract
[56, 77, 130, 139-143] [27, 61, 144-152] [125, 153, 154] [127]
Anticonvulsant activity
Roots and aerial parts/Alcoholic extract/
Methanolic extract
Not reported [150, 155] [125, 154] [127, 156, 157]
Monoamine oxidase-inhibiting activity
Mangiferin Not reported Not reported Not reported [158]
Antioxidant activity
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous
extract/Alcoholic extract
[141, 159] [160] [160] Not reported
Hypolipidemic
Roots and aerial parts/Alcoholic extract Not reported [161] Not reported Not reported
Immunomodulatory
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[162] [163] [164] [165]
Blood platelet aggregation inhibiting and vascular smooth muscle relaxant
Flowers/Anthocynins Not reported Not reported [166] Not reported
Antipyretic activity/Anti-inflammatory activity/Analgesic activity
Roots and aerial parts/Alcoholic extract/
Methanolic extract
[162, 167] [150] [125, 126, 168] [127, 169, 170]
Antimicrobial activity/Insecticidal activity/Antifungal/Antibacterial/Anthelmintic
Aerial parts/Extract Seeds/Finotin/
Flavanol glycoside
[56, 79, 171-176] [177, 178] [53, 107, 179] Not reported
Antidiabetic activity
Flowers/Ethanolic extract Not reported [180 [181] Not reported
Antiulcer and anticatatonic activity
Alcoholic extract [172] [182] Not reported Not reported
Diuretic activity
Roots/Alcoholic extract Not reported Not reported [183] [127]
Local anesthetic effect
Aerial parts/Alcoholic extract Not reported Not reported [125] Not reported
Spermicidal actvity
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
Not reported Not reported Not reported [184, 185]
Hepatoprotective and gastroprotective
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[186] Not reported Not reported [168, 187]
Cardiovascular activity
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[55, 56] [188, 189] Not reported [127]
Antituberculosis
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
Not reported Not reported Not reported [190, 191]
Skin care
Roots and aerial parts/Aqueous extract/
Alcoholic extract
[192, 193] Not reported Not reported Not reported
Drug interaction
Interaction between phenytoin and
Shankhpushpi
Not reported [194] Not reported Not reported
Activity of polyherbal formulation/Clinical studies
BR-16A (Mentat)/Thyrocap/Ayushman-8 [195-209] [210-212] [213] [214]
Review on various pharmacological aspects
Complete [16, 56, 215] [56] [56, 120] [56]
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