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A Bimonthly Digest on Natural Products


Volume 2

Number 6

November- December 2003





Medicinal properties of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.),

Samir Malhotra and Amrit Pal Singh      


Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens (Bartram) Small) in androgenic alopecia - An effective phytotherapy,

S. Chatterjee and S K Agrawala                              


Agronomic practices for the production of Safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum Santapau & Fernandes) in India


Aparbal Singh, SPS Khanuja and Saudan Singh                                          


Microbial, chemical composition evaluation and development of a technological process for the production of compound spices in Nigeria,

 Olalekan David Adeniyi, A S Abdulkareem, B M Idris and J O Odigure        



Green Page

Cultivation of Henna in Rajasthan, Rajendra M Lodha                               




Ayurvedic Tips


Insomnia, Dr Partap Chauhan                                                                        






Traditional healers’ practices in Tamil Nadu                                                      


Adenathera pavonia Linn. seeds are better than metallic weights              


Anthelmintic plants used by tribal                                                                 


Medicinal plants used by Vaidayas and local people of Garhwal (Uttranchal)                                                                                                      


Traditional catalyzing agent used in Kumaun Himalayan region              




Internet News


How insects are beneficial or useful to man                                      


`Saloni’– Salt from vegetable source                                                            


Garlic extract enhances natural killer cell activity                                            


Giant Jackfruit                                                                                                 


Medicinal Coriander                                                                                    






Large Cardamom and Alnus based agroforestry in Sikkim                          


RRL Bhubaneswar established herbal garden                                              


Food processing technologies and service center in Uttar Pradesh             


Durian de-husking machine                                                                             


ISAP Network                                                                                                  






National Workshop on Indian Medicinal and Aromatic Plants with special emphasis on Safed musli, the millennium crop                                         



Classified Digests














Pulp & Paper                   




In Brief                   


Readers write                 


Book Review


Key Use Index                


Annual Index                 






Medicinal properties of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.)

Samir Malhotra1 & Amrit Pal Singh2*


The medicinal plants find application in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agricultural and food industry. The efficacy of some herbal products is beyond doubt, the most recent examples being Silybum marianum (Linn.) Gaertn (silymarin), Artemisia annua Linn. (artemesinin) and Taxus baccata Linn. (taxol). Randomized, controlled trials have proved the efficacy of some established remedies, for instance Zingiber officinale Rosc. commonly known as ginger. After extensive pharmacological studies, it has been concluded that ginger has significant anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic and chemo-protective effects. The article summarises the various scientific studies and tries to analyze the current status of research in the pharmacological activities of ginger.




Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) in androgenic alopecia
An effective phytotherapy

S Chatterjee* & S K Agrawala


Androgenic alopecia (male type baldness) is a common problem without having any satisfactory solution. Serenoa repens (Saw palmetto) is an exotic herb, berries of which are used increasingly in the prevention and treatment of androgenic alopecia with definite success. The active principle of the berries has been found to be phytosterols conjugated with certain esterified fatty acids. They act in synergy to prevent androgenic alopecia through diverse mechanisms. It is reported to be devoid of any adverse side effects unlike synthetic 5a-reductase inhibitors commonly used for prevention and management of androgenic alopecia.


Agronomic practices for the production of Safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum Santapau & Fernandes) in India

Aparbal Singh, SPS Khanuja* and Saudan Singh




Dried tubers of safed musli are of great pharmaceutical due to its aphrodisiac and sex tonic properties. In view of its increasing demand and depleting wild resources, there is a need to take up systematic cultivation of safed musli. Cultivation safed musli can done in warm and humid areas that receive 50-150cm annual precipitation. Well drained upland soils that are rich in organic matter with pH below 8.0 should be preferred for cultivation. Planting of musli should be done on raised beds during June-July, using 600-700 kg/ha planting material. Application of 25t FYM and 25 kg each of N, P2O5 and K2O and 25kg/ha micronutrient is recommended before planting. For maximizing land use efficiency and productivity, intercropping of rainy season crops such as pigeon pea, cowpea, green gram and black gram and winter season crops such as tomato, mustard, pea, lentil and aswagandha may done. Safed musli does not require irrigation if there are regular rains. March and April months are ideal for harvesting. About 50-70% lengthy and thick tubers are removed for peeling and drying and remaining tubers along with disc are stored for planting new crop. Depending upon soil, climatic conditions and management practices, 40-50q/ha fresh tubers may be obtained for processing, which on peeling and drying remain 500-600 kg. At an average input cost, tuber yield and selling price, gross and net returns of Rs. 5.0 to 6.0 and Rs. 2.5 to 3.0 lakhs/ha, respectively, may be obtained. Integrated nutrient and iron management and intercropping studies should deserve priority in future agronomic researches.



Microbial, chemical composition evaluation and
development of a technological process for the production of compound spices in Nigeria

Olalekan David Adeniyi*, A S Abdulkareem, B M Idris and J O Odigure


Spices are vegetable products derived from fruits, seeds, roots and tree barks. They are important mainly as additives to food because of the presence of essential oil having anti-microbial and fungicidal properties. These properties have been used to some degree as the basis for food preservation and as medicinal products for certain types of diseases in Nigeria. This paper takes a look at the microbial load and chemical compositions of some of the compound spices found in Nigeria. Results reveal that some compound spices are highly contaminated with microorganisms. Isolates from sample B were identified as Salmonella, Bacillus and Escherichia coli bacteria while those from sample A contained Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus. The fungi isolates were Aspergillus niger, A. flavus and Microsporum caris. The bio-load of the spices ranged from 1.64 x 105 to 2.09 x 107 cells per gram of spice. Salmonella species and Bacillus sp. were the most common microorganisms. It is recommended that higher sanitary conditions be employed during the processing, handling and storing of the spices. This paper proposes a technological process route for the production of more hygienic spices.



Classified Digests


Prosopis gum – bioadhesive agent for delivery of drugs


Bioadhesive delivery of drugs has recently gained prominence as a means of drug administration. Researchers at Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Kyoto, Japan studied the antidiabetic properties of Prosopis gum alone and as a bioadhesive base for the delivery of Metformin. It has been observed that prospis gum possesses antidiabetic properties alone and resulted in synergistic effects when used in combination with Metformin in a bioadhesive formulation. The gum should be harnessed for its antidiabetic properties or used to formulate Metformin at preferably reduced doses. The reduced dose of the drug may eleminate some of its side effects that are dose dependent (Abikwu et al, Biol Pharm Bull, 2003, 26, 662-666).





Potent insect growth inhibitors from Bitter Gourd
and Winged Bean seeds


Proteinase inhibitors (PIs) from the seeds of Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia Linn.) were identified as strong inhibitors of Helicoverpa armigera gut proteinases (HGP). Biochemical investigations showed that bitter gourd PIs (BGPIs) inhibited more than 80% HGP activity. BGPIs inhibited HGP activity of larvae fed on different host plants, on artificial diet with or without added PIs and proteinases excreted in fecal matter. Degradation of BGPI-1 by HGP showed direct correlation with accumulation of BGPI-2-like peptide, which remained stable and active against high concentrations of HGP up to 3 h. Chemical inhibitors of serine proteinases offered partial protection to BGPI-1 from degradation by HGP, suggesting that trypsin and chymotrypsin like proteinases are involved in degradation of BGPI-1. In larval feeding studies, BGPIs were found to retard growth and development of two lepidopteran pests namely Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura. This is the first report showing that BGPIs mediated inhibition of insect gut proteinases directly affects fertility and fecundity of both H. armigera and S. litura. The results advocate use of BGPIs to introduce insect resistance in otherwise susceptible plants.


Dry mature seeds of Winged Bean, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (Linn.) DC. (WB) contain several proteinase inhibitors. A total of seven inhibitors (WBTI-1 to 7) were purified by heat treatment and gel filtration followed by elution from preparative native gels. Seven major TIs isolated from Winged bean seed were individually assessed for their potential to inhibit the gut proteinases (HGP) of Helicoverpa armigera. WBTI-1 (28 kD) was identified as a potent inhibitor of HGP relative to trypsin and among the other WBTIs; it inhibited 94% of HGP activity while at the same concentration it inhibited only 22% of trypsin activity (Telang et al, Phytochemistry, 2003, 63, 643-652; Giri et al, ibid, 2003, 63, 523-532).




Antioxidative polyphenols from Walnuts

Walnuts (Hindi-Akhrot), the seeds of Juglans regia Linn., are a highly nutritious food. They are also used as a traditional remedy for treating cough, stomachache, and cancer in Asia and Europe. Walnut is rich in oil composed of unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic and oleic acid, which are susceptible to oxidation. Although the content of small alpha, Greek-tocopherol, an antioxidant, in Walnut is lower than in other nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, etc., walnut is readily preserved. This implies that the nut contains antioxidants inhibiting lipid auto-oxidation. Although the presence of ellagic acid suggests the occurrence of its bound forms, ellagitannins, there are no reports on the tannin constituents of walnut. Researchers at Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama University, Tsushima, Okayama, Japan studied the antioxidative tannins and related polyphenols in foods and nuts. They isolated 16 polyphenolic constituents, including three new hydrolyzable tannins, glansrins A, B, and C along with adenosine and adenine from commercial walnuts. The 14 walnut polyphenols had superoxide dismutase (SOD)-like activity with EC50 21.4-190 small mu, GreekM and a remarkable radical scavenging effect against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) (EC50 0.34–4.72 small mu, GreekM). This indicates that ellagitannin polyphenols may act as effective antioxidants (Fukuda et al, Phytochemistry, 2003, 63, 795-801).



In Brief


Half pearls production from tropical abalone became a reality


Abalones, Haliotis varia (Linn.) are one among the few molluscs known for producing gem quality pearls and highly priced meat. The nacre of abalone shell is often multihued in tunes of silver, orange, pink, green, blue and lavender. The abalone pearls are superior to pearls produced from fresh water mussels and comparable to best marine pearls. Production of pearls from cultured abalones is of recent origin. CMFRI achieved initial success in the half pearl production from abalones during 1998-99 at its regional center, Mandapam. Due to sustained efforts a comprehensive method was developed and pearl production became a reality (Victor et al, Mar Fish Inf Serv, T & E Ser. No. 170, 2001, 9-10).






Traditional healers’ practices in Tamil Nadu


Selvi of Tamil Nadu’s Sivagangai district is one of 6500 women spread across 6,200 villages of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra trained to convert plants in the backyard into medicine. Resource persons like Selvi are reviving traditional folk knowledge of local herbs to make preparations that can cure simple ailments. Through them other village women learn to identify 15 species of medicinal plants, grow them in their homes and use them to treat common cold, cough, diarrhoea, headaches, fever, joint pains and wounds.


For a snake-bite, a traditional healer (Vaidyar) based at Palacode of Dharmapuri district give the powder made from the Kalamegha (Andrographis paniculata Wall. ex Nees) plant and mixed with hot water to the affected person. Within few minutes the affected patient will open eyes. The Kalamegha could stop the poison from paralysing nervous system.


For malaria prevention a decoction prepared out of Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), Amrita, Giloe [Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers ex Hook. f. & Thoms.], Andrographis paniculata Wall. ex Nees, black pepper and dry ginger is taken daily. Not a single case of malaria has been reported so far this year from these villages.


            Mrs.Amaravathi Chinniah from Chadurvedamangalam village of Sivaganga Practices give fresh extracts of a herb for dental related illness at periodic intervals. Three to four applications of herbal extract forms a permanent use to dental disease.


            Kasthuri from Perungudi village in Madurai district says every family there spends Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000 a year on treatments hence five petal red or white Hibiscus plant is a must in all herbal gardens. The women feel that it holds the answer to most of their medical problems. It is for menstrual pain, irregular menses and excessive bleeding as well as for leucorrhea. The herbal patch also gives them hair oil, face packs, shampoo and acne cures.


Contributed by: Dr.C. Sekhar, Agriculture Economics,

Tamil Nadu Agriculture University,

Coimbatore – 641 003;