Home Herbal Monograph

It is called 'Shivadurme', the tree of Shiva, and is one of the sacred trees of the Hindus. Leaves are offered in prayers to Shiva and Parvathi since ancient times. It has its own place in indigenous systems of medicine. The fruit is the subject of several solar-phallic myths. Hindu physicians regard the unripe or half-ripe fruit as astringent, digestive and stomachic and prescribe it to treat diarrhea and dysentery. The thick sherbet of the ripe fruit has a reputation among Europeans as an agreeable laxative. It is also given for piles; and as a remedy for diarrhea. The root bark is used as a remedy in hypochondriasis, melancholia and palpitation of the heart. Fresh leaf juice used as a laxative and febrifuge is used in asthmatic complaints and jaundice. The Chinese used the leaves and young fruits to adulterate opium. In Bengal it is used for dysentery. The juice of bark is a remedy for poverty of seminal fluid.

It is found in India, Burma, and Sri Lanka, often planted in the vicinity of Shiva temples. It grows wild all over the sub-Himalayan forests, central India and its west coast and in dry hilly places ascending to 4,000 ft. high.

Morphology Description (Habit)
It is a medium to large sized deciduous, glabrous and armed tree with axillary and 2.5 cm long spines. Leaves alternate, 3-5 foliate, leaflets are ovate to lanceolate, crenate, acuminate, membranous and petiololed. Flowers in short axillary panicles, large and scented. Calyx pubescent and four lobed. Petals 4, white and gland dotted. Stamens many. Ovary ovoid, cells 10-20, ovules many, fruit globose, grey or yellowish, rind woody. Seeds many, oblong, compressed, embedded in reddish yellow coloured sweet pulp.

Principal Constituents

Aegelin, formerly identified as sterol but clarified as a neutral alkaloid, rutacine, g- sitosterol, aegelemine and aegeline were identified from the leaves1. Marmin, marmesin, umbelliferine, skimmianine were identified from the bark and roots2. A major constituent of the fruit is the mucilage and marmelosin (0.5 %) a coumarin, in addition to the minor constituents like reducing sugar, essential oils, ascorbic acid and various minerals.

Alcoholic and aqueous extracts of the leaves have similar effect as digoxin in amplitude and contractions of the frog's heart. Alcoholic extract of the roots and fruits showed hypoglycaemic activity in albino rats and fruit extract has antiviral activity against Ranikhet disease virus. Marmelosin has anthelmintic activity against ankylistomiasis3.

The roots are astringent, bitter and febrifuge. They are useful in diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, stomachalgia, cardiopalmus, seminal weakness, vomiting, intermittent fever and swellings. The leaves are useful as laxative, febrifuge and expectorant, also in ophthalmia, deafness, inflammations, catarrh, diabetes and asthmatic complaints. The fruits are useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, stomachalgia, and good for heart and brain.

  1. Chem Indust 50, 1632, 1955; Bull Calcutta School Trop Med. 4, 167, 1958; Sci and Cult 33, 279, 1967; J Org. Chem 24, 687,1959.
  2. Tetrahedron Lett. 5, 471, 1967; J Chem Soc, 222, 1959; J Indian Chem Soc. 37, 334, 1960.
  3. Indian J Med Res 56, 327, 1968; Indian J Exptl Biol 6, 232, 1968; I J Pharmac 1,6, 1969.