The term amrita refers to a heavenly elixir which was reputed to protect the celestial people from senescence and keep them eternally young.
The plant grows throughout India from Kumaon to Kanyakumari.
Large, glabrous twiner with terete stem with long filiform, fleshy, aerial roots. The stem has a loose greyish bark when mature. The leaves are simple, alternate, long petioled and possess a characteristic heart shape, giving the name cordifolia to the plant. Flowers are green, unisexual, in dioecious spikes. The fruits are ovoid, glossy, red drupes, containing curved seeds.
Stem, root and leaves.
A decoction of leaves is used for the treatment of gout. The root is a powerful emetic and is used for visceral obstructions. Water extract is used in leprosy. It is used as a bactericide, emetic, tonic, stimulant, diuretic, aphrodisiac, sedative, stomachic and in asthma, erysipelas, fever, gout, int1ammation, jaundice, leprosy, rheumatism, sores, tuberculosis, tumours, liver disorders and malaria.
Columbin, chasmanthin, palmarin, tinosporone, tinosporic acid, tinosporol, tinosporaside, cordifolisides A, B, C, 0 and E, cordioside, syringin and cordiol have all been isolated from the plant.
Berberine and related alkaloids have been reported, although this has been disputed.
Antiallergic activity: An aqueous extract of T. cordifolia decreased bronchospasm in guinea pigs, decreased capillary permeability in mice and reduced the number of disrupted mast cells in rats.
Anticancer activity: A formulation containing Tinospora cordifolia, Asparagus racemosus, Withania somnifera and Picrorrhiza kurroa markedly inhibited the suppression of chemotactic activity and production of interleukin-l and tumour necrosis factor induced by the carcinogen ochratoxin in mouse macrophages.
Antineoplastic activity: Aqueous, methanolic and dichloromethane extracts of T. cordifolia showed dose-dependent increases in lethality to HeLa cells in vitro. The most potent activity was found in the dichloromethane extract.
Antioxidant activity: An extract of T. cordifolia reduced the toxicity induced by free radicals and inhibited lipid peroxidation and the generation of superoxide and hydroxyl radicals in vitro. It reduced the toxic side effects of cyclophosphamide in mice, as shown by the total white blood cell count, bone marrow cellularity and esterase-positive cells. It also partially reduced elevated lipid peroxides in serum and liver, as well as alkaline phosphatase and glutamine pyruvate transaminase.
Antistress activity: An ethanolic extract of the roots of T. cordifolia normalised stress?induced biochemical changes in norepinephrine, dopamine, 5?hydroxytryptamine and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid levels in experimental rat models.
Antiulcer activity: An ethanolic extract of the roots of T. cordifolia, in combination with Centella asiatica, afforded significant protective action against restraint stress-induced ulcer formation. The activity was comparable to diazepam in rats.
Immunomodulatory activity: Syringin and cordiol, isolated from T. cordifolia, inhibited the in vitro immunohaemolysis of antibody?coated sheep erythrocytes by guinea pig serum. This was found to be due to inhibition of C3-convertase in the classic complement pathway. Humoral and cell?mediated immunity were also dose dependently enhanced and an increase in IgG antibody in serum was observed. Cordioside, cordiofolioside and cordiol also activated macrophages significantly. In order to elucidate the mode of action, colony?forming units of the granulocyte-macrophage series (CFU-GM) in mouse serum were treated with T. cordifolia. The extract induced a significant O.Ol) increase in the number of CFU?GM, indicating that activation of macrophages by T. cordifolia had occurred, leading to an increase in leucocytosis and enhanced neutrophil functions.lo The protective effects were also studied in Escherichia coli-induced peritonitis and compared with gentamicin. Pretreatment of mice with T cordifolia or gentamicin reduced the mortality rate ofthose injected with 1x108 E. coli, from 100% in the control to 17.8% and 11.1 % respectively. This was associated with a significantly improved bacterial clearance and improved phagocytic and intracellular bactericidal capacities of neutrophils in the T cordifolia-treated groups. Gentamicin cleared bacteria rapidly, although polymorph phagocytosis remained depressed. In obstructive jaundice, phagocytic and microbicidal activity of polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) tend to be lower than normal. In a model of cholestasis using rats, a depression in the activity of PMN and peritoneal macrophages was observed and the rats showed an increased susceptibility to E. coli infection. Treating the animals with a water extract of T cordifolia improved cellular immune functions and mortality following E. coli infection was significantly reduced. The study showed that cholestasis resulted in immunosuppression and suggests a role for immunomodulation in the management of obstructive jaundice.
Hepatoprotective activity: A study in goats showed an improvement in clinical and haematobiochemical parameters of the liver, suggesting a protective action for T cordifolia.
Hypoglycaemic activity: The aqueous, alcoholic and chloroform extracts of the leaves of T cordifolia exerted a significant hypoglycaemic effect in normal and alloxan?treated rabbits at doses of 50, 100,150 and 200 mg/kg body weight. Oral administration of an aqueous root extract to alloxan diabetic rats caused a significant reduction in blood glucose and brain lipids, an increase in body weight, haemoglobin and hepatic hexokinase levels, and a lowering of hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase, serum acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase and lactate dehydrogenase.
Safe with appropriate clinical guidance. However, excessive doses of berberine inhibit vitamin B assimilation and can cause nausea. The maximum tolerated doses of 50% ethanolic extracts of the stem and whole plant were 250 and 500 mg/kg in adult rats.
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