Home Herbal Monograph Yellow Berried Nightshade

This plant formed one of the important plants in Hindu medicine. It was one of the ten roots, the Dhasamoola. It was described as pungent, bitter, digestive, diuretic, alterative, astringent and anthelmintic. It was used in fever, cough, flatulence, costiveness and heart disease. In practice the drug was generally combined with other expectorants, demulcents and aromatics. Fumigation with the vapour of the burning seeds of this plant was in high repute to cure toothache. When smoked like tobacco, the natives believed that the smoke killed the insects, which they assumed caused the pain. In Bengal the plant was used as a diuretic in dropsy. The root paste was utilised by the Mukundara tribals of Rajasthan for the treatment of hernia.


Found in Southeast Asia, Malaya and tropical Australia. Very commonly found throughout India in plains from seashore to hills up to 1000 m high.

Morphology Description (Habit)

It is a very prickly perennial herb somewhat with woody base. Stem branched much and younger ones clothed with dense, stellate and tomentose hairs. Prickles are compressed straight, glabrous and shining, often 1-3 cm long. Leaves ovate or elliptic, sinuate or subpinnatifid, obtuse or subacute, stellately hairy on both sides, armed on the midrib and often on the nerves with long yellow sharp prickles. Petiole is long, stellately hairy and prickly. Flowers are in cymes or some times reduced as solitary. Calyx tube is short, globose and lobes linear-lanceolate, acute, densely hairy and prickly. Corolla purple, lobes deltoid, acute, and hairy outside. Anther filament is long, glabrous and anthers open by a pore. Ovary is ovoid and glabrous. Berry yellow, green-blotched and sorrounded by enlarged calyx. Seeds are glabrous.

Principal Constituents

Steroidal alkaloid solasodine is the principal alkaloid. Alcoholic extracts of the plant contain fatty and resinous substances. Solasonine is present in fruits. The glycoalkaloid content of fruits collected from plants growing in Jammu & Kashmir is reported to be 3.5 per cent (total alkaloids: 1.1%). The plant samples collected from Calcutta contained solasodine of 0.0287%. The presence of diosgenin in the plant has been reported1. Seeds yield 19.3 % of a greenish yellow, semi-drying oil with a characteristic odour. The unsaponifiable matter of fruits contains two sterols, one of which is carpesterol2.


Pharmacological studies on this herb have shown that aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the plant possess hypotensive effect, which is partly inhibited by atropine. The more persistent secondary fall in the blood pressure and broncho-constriction are inhibited by the antihistamine drugs. Both glycoalkaloid and fatty acid fractions of the extract cause liberation of histamine from chopped lung-tissue. The beneficial effect of the drug on bronchial asthma may be attributed to the depletion of histamine from bronchial and lung-tissue3. Solasodine is teratogenic in rats and guinea-pigs.


There is no adverse effect was reported on use of this herb as drug.


Stem, flowers and fruits are bitter and carminative. It is employed in cough, asthma and pains in chest, being used in the form of a decoction. They are prescribed for relief in burning sensation in the feet accompanied by vesicular watery eruptions. Leaves are applied locally to relieve pain. The juice of berries is used in sore throat. Like roots, seeds are also administered as an expectorant in asthma and cough. The plant is credited with diuretic properties and is used to cure dropsy. Its juice is mixed with whey and ginger and given in fevers. The juice of the leaves, mixed with black pepper, is prescribed in rheumatism. An Ayurvedic compound Arkadhi, with this herb is useful in dengue fever, acute bronchitis and fevers accompanied by chest-affections. The macerated plant in coconut oil is given to cattle at the time of calf delivery. A decoction of roots or crushed fruits with mine salt is given to cattle for stomachache or constipation. It forms a constituent of herbal cough remedy koflet (Himalaya) and is reported to promote expectoration4.

  1. Pendse, Indian J. med. Res., 1932, 20, 663; Gupta et. al., ibid. 1967, 55, 723; Chaudhary et. al., Curr. Sci., 1958, 27, 409; Chopra & Handa, loc. cit. Briggs et. al., J. chem. Soc. 1961, 4645.
  2. Gupta & Dutt, J. Indian chem. Soc., 1936 13, 613; Eckey, 740.
  3. Gupta et. al., Indian J. med. Res., 1967, 55, 723; Gupta & Gupta, Indian J. med. Sci., 1967 21 , 795; Dhar et. al., Indian J. exp. Biol., 1968, 6, 232; Joshi & Magar, J. sci. industr. Res., 1952, 11B, 261.
  4. Dagar & Chagtai, J Econ Taxon Bot, 1991, 15, 603; Bhasin, Probe, 1991, 31, 23; Gupta et al, Int J Pharmacogn, 1993, 31, 15; Banik et. al., Sci & Cult, 1990, 56, 214.