/ Herpestis monnieria (Linn.)
H.B. & K. Scrophulariaceae
Commonly growing in marshy places throughout India, ascending to an altitude of 1,320 m.
A small, creeping herb, its stems are obtuse-angular; the leaves are short-petioled, cuneate to obovate; the capsules are ovoid. It can be easily grown in damp areas and can be propagated using seeds or vegetatively.
The herb contains the alkaloids brahmine, herpestine, and a mixture of three bases. It also contains the saponins, monnierin ; hersaponin, bacoside A and bacoside B. Other constituents present in the plant are D-mannitol, betulic acid, ß- sitosterol, stigmasterol and its esters, heptacosane, octacosane, nonacosane, triacontane, hentriacontane, dotriacontane, nicotine, 3-formyl-4-hydroxy-2H-pyran, luteolin and its 7-glucoside. The presence of a-alamine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid and serine is also reported1.
The saponin, hersaponin, is reported to possess cardiotonic, sedative and spasmodic properties. It produced a mild inhibitory effect on the respiration of rat brain tissue which was partially reduced by LSD-25 and potentiated by 5-HT. It was also found, as in the case of reserpine, to deplete nor-adrenaline and 5-HT content of the rat brain. An alcoholic extract of the plant, in a dose of 50mg/kg, produced a tranquilizing effect on albino rats and dogs but the action was weaker than that produced by chlorpromazine. An ethanolic extract (50%) of the plant exhibited anticancer activity against the Walker carcinosarcoma 256 in rats. The administration of an aqueous suspension of an alcoholic extract (40mg/kg, p.o.) for three or more days is reported to improve the performance of rats in various learning situations2.
The entire plant constitutes the well-known drug Brahmi. It is astringent, bitter and cooling, and, is reported to improve the intellect. It is used in indigenous systems of medicine for the treatment of asthma, hoarseness, insanity, epilepsy and as a potent nerve tonic, cardiotonic and diuretic. A clinical report showed that this drug is an anti-anxiety agent having adaptogenic effect. It exhibits a barbiturate hypnosis-potentiating effect in albino rats. The leaves are also useful as a diuretic and aperient.
- Chopra et. al., ibid, 1967, 5, 84; Chatterjii et. al., ibid, 1963, 1, 212; 1965, 3, 24; Sastry et. al., Indian J Pharm, 1959, 21, 303; Kulshreshtha & Rastogi, Phytochemistry, 1973, 12, 2074; Chandel et. al., ibid, 1977, 16, 141; Kawai & Shibata, ibid, 1978, 17, 287; Schulte et. al., ibid, 1972, 11, 2649; Brown & Chakravarti, Bull Calcutta Sch trop Med, 1963, 11, 57
- Malhotra & Das, Indian J med Res, 1959, 47, 294; Dhalla et. al., ibid, 1961, 49, 781; Ganguly & Malhotra, ibid, 1967, 55, 473; Malhotra et. al., J Pharm Pharmacol, 1961,13, 447; Aithal & Sirsi, Indian J Pharm, 1961, 23, 2; Bhakuni et. al., Indian J exp Biol, 1969, 7, 261; Singh & Dhawan, J Ethnopharmacol, 1982, 5, 205