Argyreia Speciosa in Ayurvedic Medicine

Family: Convolvulaceae

Vernacular names

  • Sanskrit, Vridha daraka
  • Hindi, Samudra Shokha
  • English, Elephant creeper
  • Bengali, Bijarka
  • Nepalese, Samudra phool
  • Sinhalese, Vriddadaru
  • Unani, Samudar sokh
  • Tamil, Kadarpalai.

Habitat — Throughout India except in dry, western regions up to 1000 ft elevation, often cultivated.

Parts used — Root and seeds.

Morphological characteristics — Leaves ovate or cordate, up to 12 in. long, glabrous above, white tomentose beneath, long stalked. Flowers in cymes; bracts large, thin, veined, pubescent outside, glabrous inside, calyx white, tomentose outside; corolla funnel shaped, silky pubescent outside, tube somewhat inflated, rose-purple, about 2 in. long. Root cylindrical, 1 to 1.5 cm thick; brown, smooth, round wood is scant, flexible, and smooth, latex oozes at cuts. Seeds are enclosed in a stone, pale yellow-brown globose apiculate, indehiscent berry 1.2 to 2 cm in diameter containing four erect, curved embryos with corrugated cotyledons or two seeds embedded in a meaty pulp.

Ayurvedic description — Rasa — katu, tikta, kasaya; Guna — laghu, snigdha; Veerya — ushna; Vipak — madhur.

Action and uses—Kapha vatsamak, branpachan,daran, sodhan, ropan, naribalya, dipan, pachan, ampachan, anulomon, rachan, hiridya sothahar, surkrjanan, pramehangan, balya, rasayan.

Chemical constituents — The plant contains tannin and amber-colored resin, soluble in ether, benzole; partly soluble in alkalis; and fatty oil.103

The seeds have shown the presence of alkaloids, viz., chanoclavine, ergine, ergonovine, and isoergine by various workers.10

Pharmacological action — Alterative, aphrodisiac, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, tonic, and emollient.

Medicinal properties and uses — Powder of the root is given with “ghee” as an alterative; in elephantiasis the powder is given with rice water. In inflammation of the joints it is given with milk and a little castor oil. A paste of the roots made with rice water is applied over rheumatic swelling and rubbed over the body to reduce obesity. The whole plant is reported to have antiseptic properties.1 The leaves are antiphlogistic; they are applied over skin diseases and wounds;109 the silky side of the leaf is applied over tumors, boils, sores, and carbuncles;, as an irritant to promote maturation and suppuration.50 The leaves are also used for extracting guinea worms. A drop of the leaf juice is used in otitis.

Doses — Powder — 1 to 3 gr; seed powder — 0.5 to 1.5 gr; decoction of the root — 14 to 28 ml.