Home Herbal Monograph Horse Radish, Drumstick

It grows wild in the sub-Himalayan tract, from Chenab eastwards to Sarda and is cultivated all over the plains of India.

Morphology Description (Habit)

M.pterygosperma is a small or medium-sized tree. The bark is thick, soft, corky and deeply fissured; the leaves, usually tri-pinnate; the leaflets, elliptic; the flowers, white, fragrant in large panicles; the pods, pendulous, greenish, triangular and ribbed with trigonous, winged seeds.

Principal Constituents

The roots contain an active antibiotic principle, pterygospermin. The root bark contains two alkaloids (total alkaloids, 0.1%), viz. moringine which is identical with benzylamine and moringinine belonging to the sympathomimetic group of bases. It also contains traces of an essential oil with a pungent smell, phytosterol, waxes and resins. An alkaloid, named spirochin, has been isolated from the roots1. Hypotensive principles niazinin A, niazinin B, niazimicin, and niaziminin A and B were obtained from ethanolic extracts of the fresh leaves. These compounds are mustard-oil glycosides and are very rare in nature.They are rare examples of naturally occurring thiocarbamates2.


Aqueous extract of M.pterygosperma was given orally at a dose of 200mg/kg to different groups of rats for 6,12,18 and 24 days. Parallel controls were run with each group which received gum acacia suspension as vehicle. Throughout the experimentation the vaginal smear of each rat was examined daily at a regular interval of 24 hr. At the end of the experiment the entire record of different stages of the oestrous cycle of each rat was analyzed. It was found that the dose of 200mg/kg disturbed the normal regular estrous cycle in all the animals, however, the response was duration dependent3.

Aqueous extracts of the roots and of the root bark of M.oleifera were effective in preventing implantation. The anti-implantation activity of M.oleifera root was consistent regardless of its time and place of collection4. The aqueous extract of stem bark of [M.pterygosperma] was investigated for its effect on various pharmacological parameters. It also produced a dose dependent hypotensive effect on dog blood pressure. It failed to elicit any effect on isolated guinea -pig ileum, rat stomach fundus or frog rectus abdominis muscle5.

The methanol fraction of [M.oleifera] leaf extract (at 100 mg/kg and 150mg/kg) was found to possess significant protective actions in acetylsalicylic acid, serotonin and indomethacin induced gastric lesions in experimental rats. A significant enhancement of the healing process in acetic acid-induced chronic gastric lesions was also observed with the extract-treated animals6.

Pterygospermin (in concentrations of 0.5-3 µg./cc.) inhibits the growth of many gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria including Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Aerobacter aurogenes, Salmonella typhosa, S. enteritides, S. paratyphosus Shigella dysenteriae, Mycobacterium phlei and M. tuberculosis var. hominis. In higher concentrations (7-10 µg./cc.), it is active aganist fungi. It is stable in the presence of blood and gastric juice but breaks down in the presence of pancreatic juice. Its effect is counteracted by thiamine and glutamic acid but reinforced by pyridoxine. It is toxic to experimental animals, but in low concentrations protects mice against staphylococcal infections. In view of its activity against moulds and fungi and its negligible effect on seed germination, pterygospermin may find application in the preservation of fruits and vegetable and in seed treatment7.


In cardiovascular profile at lower concentrations (1-10mg) it produced a dose dependent positive inotropic effect and at higher concentrations (0.1-1micro g) a dose dependent negative inotropic effect on the isolated frog heart.


Biological activity studies have confirmed the anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and diuretic activities of the seeds. The seeds are used as antibacterial, anticholeric and anti-viral agents.

  1. Chopra et. al., Indian J. med. Res. 1932-33, 20, 533; Ghosh et. al., ibid., 1934-35, 22, 785; Chakravarti, Bull. Calcutta Sch. trop. Med., 1957, 5, 123; Chatterjee & Maitra, Sci. & Cult., 1951-52, 17, 43.
  2. Caceres, J Ethnopharmacol, 1992, 36, 233; Chem Abstr, 1993, 119, 529.
  3. Shukla, S.,et. al., Ind. J. Pharm. Sci., 1987, 49(6), 218-219.
  4. Shukla, S., et. al., Int. J. Crude Drug Res., 1988, v. 26(1). 29-32.
  5. Limaye, D.A., et. al., Phytotherapy Research, 1995, v. 9(1), 37-40.
  6. Pal, S.K., et. al., Phytotherapy Research, 1995, v. 9(6), 463-465.
  7. Rao et. al., Nature, Lond., 1946, 158, 745; Rao & Natarajan, Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1949, 29B, 148; Kurup & Rao, J. Indian Inst. Sci., 1952, 34A, 148; Kurup, Indian J. Pharm., 1952, 34A, 219; Rao & Kurup, Indian J. Pharm., 1953; 15, 315; Kurup & Rao, Indian J med. Res., 1954, 42, 85, 101; Gopalakrishna et. al., ibid., 1954, 42, 97.