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Desmodium gangeticum - Shalaparni शालपर्णी

Desmodium gangeticum

Desmodium gangeticum

Botanical name: Desmodium gangeticum, Fabaceae

Other names: Vidarigandha (S), Salpan, Salwan (H), Pulladi, Orila (T)

शालपर्णी Botany: Shalaparni is an erect shrub attaining a height of between 60 and 120 cm, with a short woody stem and numerous irregularly angled branches covered in a fine grey pubescence. The leaves are simple, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute or acuminate, margins wavy and membranous, glabrous above and mottled with grayish-colored patches, pale green below with whitish appressed trichomes. The flowers are white to purple in color, borne in elongated terminal or axillary racemes, giving rise to indehiscent pods with 6-8 segments, each segment containing one seed. Shalaparni is found throughout tropical India into the lower portions of the Himalayan range, and it and related species are also found in regions of China (e.g. Desmodium styracifolium, D. pulchellum), S.E. Asia and Africa (D. adscendens). The meaning of its Sanskrit name ‘leaves like Sala’ suggests its leaf structure is similar those of the tree Shorea robusta (Kirtikar and Basu 1935, 758-9; Warrier et al 1994, 319).

Part used: Root.


     Rasa: tikta, madhura
     Virya: ushna, guru
     Karma: stambhana, chardinigrahana, jvaraghna, chedana, kasahara, svasahara, mutravirechana, vishaghna, hrdaya, rasayana, tridoshaghna (Srikanthamurthy 2001, 232; Dash 1991, 20; Kirtikar and Basu 1935, 758-9; Warrier et al 1994, 319).

Constituents: The limited amount of constituent information for Shalaparni includes the presence of alkaloids, pterocarpenoids (gangetin, gangetinin and desmodin), triterpenoid glycosides (dehydrosoyasaponin I, soyasaponin I, and soyasaponin III), and flavone and isoflavanoid glycosides (Govindarajan et al 2003; McManus et al 1993; Ghdsh and Anandakumar 1981).

Medical research:

Antiasthmatic: A crude extract of D. adscendens was found to inhibit the binding of monoiodotyrosine charybdotoxin (125I-ChTX) to receptor sites in bovine tracheal smooth muscle membranes associated with calcium-dependent potassium channels, which play an important role in regulating the tone of airway smooth muscle and the release of bronchoconstrictive substances from nerves in the lung. Researchers further studied this effect by isolating three triterpenoid glycosides from D. adscendens including dehydrosoyasaponin I (DHS-I), soyasaponin I, and soyasaponin III. DHS-I was found to be the most potent of these compounds, researchers stating that it is the most potent known potassium channel opener yet discovered (McManus et al 1993). The aqueous extract of D. adscendens was evaluated for its anti-anaphylactic properties in guinea pigs. The results demonstrate that the extract's inhibition of histamine-induced ileal contraction is largely competitive and that its effect in reducing lung histamine content is dose-dependent. The results also show that the extract causes a dose-dependent reduction in the amount of spasmogenic agents released during anaphylaxis (Addy and Dzandu 1986)

Antioxidant: Researchers studied the free radical scavenging activities of a 50% aqueous-alcohol extract of D. gangeticum against diphenyl picryl hydrazyl (DPPH), nitric oxide, ferryl-bipyridyl, and hypochlorous acid (HOCl), as well as in a model of lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenate. The results demonstrate a potent antioxidant activity against DPPH, HOCl and lipid peroxidation (Govindarajan et al 2003).

Central nervous system: The aqueous extract of D. gangeticum demonstrated moderate central nervous system depressant activity in spontaneous motor activity, hole cross, and open field tests and hole board tests, in vivo (Jabbar et al 2001). The alkaloids of D. gangeticum demonstrated anticholinesterase, smooth muscle stimulant, CNS stimulant and depressant activities (Ghosal and Bhattacharya 1972).

Paracidal: An extract of D. gangeticum was evaluated for its possible antileishmanial activity using a radiorespirometric microtest technique based on the in vitro inhibition of catabolism of 14CO2 from a battery of 14C-substrates by promastigotes. D. gangeticum was determined to be active against a visceral Leishmania isolate at a concentrations of 50 micrograms/ml or less (Iwu et al 1992).

Antiinflammatory: The pterocarpin gangetin isolated from a hexane extract of the root of D. gangeticum demonstrated significant antiinflammatorv activity in the exudative and the proliferative phases of inflammation (carragenin induced edema, cotton pellet granuloma, granuloma pouch, and formaldehyde induced arthritis), in doses of 50 and 100 mg/kg orally, in albino rats (Ghdsh and Anandakumar 1981).

Analgesia: The aqueous extract of D. gangeticum demonstrated potent anti-writhing activity in the acetic acid-induced spasm in experimental animals (Jabbar et al 2001). The pterocarpin gangetin isolated from a hexane extract of the root of D. gangeticum demonstrated significant analgesic activity in acetic acid-induced writhing and hot plate tests in albino rats (Ghdsh and Anandakumar 1981).

Toxicity: No data found.

Indications: Vomiting, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal parasites, fever, cough, asthma, tuberculosis, allergies, urinary spasm, edema, cardiac debility and cardiopathies, inflammatory joint disease, asthenia and emaciation, diabetes, epilepsy, psychosis, depression, anxiety

Contraindications: None.

Medicinal uses: Shalaparni is valued in Ayurvedic medicine for its capacity to reduce vitiations of all three doshas, and is often used in severe conditions such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis when all other treatments fail (Tillotson 2001, 200-1). To this extent it is used in many formulations to equalize the activities of the different constituents. Shalaparni is particularly valued in asthmatic conditions, which is evidenced by the experimental data, which demonstrates anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and antispasmodic properties. It is also considered an important remedy for the heart, and is a key constituent in Dashamula (‘ten roots’ formula), which has alterative and antiinflammatory properties, and Mahanarayana taila, which is used in myalgia, rheumatism and mental disorders. In the treatment of severe Vataja fever the Sharangadhara samhita recommends a decoction of equal parts Shalaparni, Bala, Guduchi, Draksha (Vitis vinifera), and Sariva (Hemedesmus indicus) (Srikanthamurthy 1984, 58). In the treatment of malabsorptive syndromes with gastrointestinal colic the Sharangadhara samhita recommends a decoction of equal parts Shalaparni, Bala, Bilva, Dhanyaka (Coriandrum sativum) and Shunthi (Zingiber officinalis) (Srikanthamurthy 1984, 64). The Chakradatta mentions the benefit of Shalaparni as an ingredient in Baladya ghrita in the treatment of fever, consumption, cough, headache and chest pain, taken with twice its quantity of milk (Sharma 2002, 143). The Chakradatta also mentions Shalaparni as a constituent of Mahapaishachika ghrita, used in the treatment of psychosis, epilepsy and seizure, and to enhance the intellect and memory in children (Sharma 2002, 188). In Vattic afflictions of the heart the Chakradatta recommends that Shalaparni be decocted in milk and taken internally (Sharma 2002, 200). Generally speaking, Shalaparni combines well with botanicals such as Arjuna and Bala in diseases of the heart. Shalaparni is said to protect the fetus in threatened miscarriage, and is applied as paste with Parusaka (Grewia asiatica) over the umbilical region, pelvis and vulva during labor to ensure an easy delivery (Sharma 2002, 587). In Chinese medicine Guang Jin Qian (D. styraciflium) is used in cholelithiasis and jaundice (Damp Heat of the Liver and Gall Bladder), and Pai Chien Cao (D. pulchellum) is used in malaria (Tillotson 2001, 200-1).


• Churna: 2-5 g b.i.d.-t.i.d. • Kvatha: 30-90 mL b.i.d.-t.i.d. • Tincture: dried root, 1:3, 45%; 2-5 mL b.i.d.-t.i.d.

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SHALAPARNI (Desmodium gangeticum)

Latin: Desmodium gangeticum

Desmodium gangeticum

Desmodium gangeticum


Sanskrit: Shalaparni

WHAT IT DOES: Shalaparni is sweet in taste and mildy warming in action. It is calming, strengthening and anti-inflammatory. It restores balance to the system when other herbs fail.



Shalaparni is a sub-tropical perennial spreading herb that grows in dry hilly areas. It is a general tonic and aphrodisiac, has a calming, sedative effect and is also used control inflammation, fever and neurological imbalances. Dr. Mana says,“this plant has unique medicinal value to regulate the function of the nervous system (Vata), venous system (Pitta) and arterial system (Kapha). These three regulatory systems balance each other to restore health. However there are several very serious diseases where herbal medicines fail to work, such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis. Shalaparni is often effective in restoring balance to the system when the other herbs fail.”

Research Highlights:

• The leaves and stem of shalaparni are used in African countries for fevers, skin diseases and anxiety states (Iwu, 1993).

• Shalaparni was one of five Nigerian herbs tested by a Walter Reed Army Institute research team for alkaloids active against serious parasitic protozoal diseases (Iwu et al., 1994). Although Dr. Iwu's group found promising results, the diseases treated by these herbs (malaria, leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis) are found primarily in poor countries, so drug companies have shown no interest in developing them. Therefore, Dr Iwu plans to encourage local companies and herbal practitioners to develop these plant extracts as phytomedicines.

• Other species of Desmodium have shown very interesting effects. TCM doctors use guang jin qian (Desmodium styraciflium) to remove heat and dampness from the liver and gall-blader, to treat stones (Hirayama et al., 1993), and for jaundice. They use pai chien cao (D. pulchellum) for fevers and malaria (reported in Huang, 1999). African D. adscendens is analgesic and supresses convulsions, seizures and mortality in mice when induced by chemical poisons (N'gouemo et al., 1996).

• Traditionally used for asthma, crude extracts of D. adscendens have also been shown to be “the most potent potassium channel openers known.” This means the plant extracts are able to both regulate the tone of the airway smooth muscle and inhibit the release of allergic and inflammatory bronchoconstrictive chemicals from nerves in the lung (McManus et al., 1993, Addy and Burka, 1988).

• In light of the potent regulatory effects reported for various Desmodium species plants, I found it fascinating that chronobiologists are studying the movements of D. gyrans leaflets. It seems the leaflets show strong up and down rhythmical movements due to swelling and shrinking of motor cells in special organs caused by ion pumping followed by depolarization (Engelmann and Antkowiak, 1998). The movements are circadian, meaning that they follow 24-hour cycles, and can be altered by electromagnetic radiation (Ellingsrud and Johnsson, 1993)

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**//Desmodium gangeticum**// (Sanskrit: अंशुमती anshumati, ध्रुवा dhruva, दीर्घमूला dirghamoola, पीवरी pivari, शालपर्णी shalaparni)is plant in the Fabaceae family.

See also

 * [[Psychedelic plants]]


 * {{cite book |last=Caldecott |first=Todd |year=2006 |title=Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life |publisher=Elsevier/Mosby |isbn=0723434107 }} Contains a detailed monograph on //Desmodium gangeticum// (Shalaparni) as well as a discussion of health benefits and usage in clinical practice. Available online at

Desmodium gangeticum

ഓരില Desmodium gangeticum lép

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