Pharmaceutical interest

Antimicrobial properties: In regard to the antiseptic properties mentioned above, a number of experiments conducted in vitro and in vivo demonstrate that Achyranthes aspera L. is antimicrobial on account of at least 3 groups of probably syner-gistic series secondary metabolites: terpenes, alkaloids and phenolic compounds. The essential oil extracted from the shoots inhibits moderately the proliferation of Aspergillus carneus (minimum inhibiting concentration = 3000ppm; Misra TN et al., 1992). The seeds of Achyranthes aspera L contain a number of oleanolic triterpenoid saponins which inhibit the proliferation of Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Salmonella thy-phimurium (Sushil K et al., 1997). Aporphinoid alkaloids from the stems inhibit the proliferation of Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Shigella dysenteriae (Rahman RH etal., 1996). A decoction of Achyranthes aspera L. is effective (30 mL twice daily) in the treatment of subacute and mild type reactions in leprous patients (Ojha D etal., 1966).

Steroidal properties: One might set up the hypothesis that the anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties of Achyranthes aspera L. involve a corticosteroid-based mechanism of action. In physiological conditions, cor-ticosteroids are transferred to their cell

Achyranthes Aspera Vikaspedia
Fig. 62. Achyranthes aspera L.

Uses: In Indonesia, a paste of Achyranthes aspera L. mixed with the bark of Alyxia stellata (Roem.) et Schult. and the fruits of Foeniculum vulgare Gaertn. is applied to the body to treat convulsion. A decoction of this mixture is drunk to stop dysentery. Achyranthes aspera L is used to promote urination and it is an astringent remedy. In Malaysia, Achyranthes aspera L. is used to resolve inflamed parts, lower blood pressure and to counteract infection of the urinary tract. In the Solomon Islands, a paste made from the powdered leaves is applied to boils and the roots are used to treat swollen legs. In Vietnam, roasted leaves are used externally to heal burns and an infusion of the roots is ingested to mitigate colic. In India, a decoction of Achyranthes aspera L. (1 in 15; dose 30 mL to 60 mL) is drunk to promote urination and the seeds are eaten to treat piles. The white variety of Achyranthes aspera L. is said to be more efficient against piles, ascite and dysentery whereas the red variety is preferred for ulcers.

targets, in plasma, bound to a corticosteroid-binding globulin. Unbound or free corticosteroids enter the target-cells and bind to a cytoplasmic corticosteroid receptor. The dimer corticosteroid-receptor enters then the nucleus and binds to a DNA binding receptor and stimulates therefore the synthesis of specific proteins with physiological properties. A number of plant triterpenoids and steroids share with human steroid a cyclopentanoperhydrophenanthrene skeleton and are thereby able to interfere with the manifold physiological activities of steroidal hormones, hence exhibiting anti-inflammatory, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, estrogen antagonist, and abortifacient properties (Pakrashi A et al., 1977; Wadhwa V et al, 1986; Figs. 63-64). Normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits fed with Achyranthes aspera L. or aqueous and methanolic extracts, develop a dose-dependent hypoglycaemia at doses of 2 g/Kg, 3 g/Kg, and4g/Kg (AkhtarMS etal., 1991).The anti-inflammatory property of Achyranthes aspera L. could be on account of an inhibition of phospholipase A2 activity through lipocortine, the synthesis of which is physiologically monitored by corticosteroids. The diuretic property of Achyranthes aspera L. may be attributed to an inhibition of the corticosteroid-induced synthesis of Na+-pumps of the distal nephron and collecting duct-cells. Finally, the hypoglycemic property of Achyranthes aspera L may be on account of an inhibition of the liver corticoid-induced glucose synthesis, and in peripheral tissues, corticosteroid-induced decrease of glucose intake.

Stigmasterol

Cortisone

Stigmasterol

Cortisone

'COOH

Oleanolic acid

'COOH

Oleanolic acid

Fig. 63. Note the similitude of chemical structure of plant steroids (stigmasterol), cortisone and plant triterpenes (oleanolic acid).

Hypoglycemia First Trimester
Fig. 64. Oleanolic acid (T) binds to corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG), corticosteroid receptor (CR) or DNA-binding domain (DBD). Anti-inflammatory effect: stimulation of the synthesis of lipocortine (L) and therefore inhibition of phospholipase A2 (P).

Antitumor properties: A methanolic extract of Achyranthes aspera L. inhibits the early expression by Raji cells of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) antigen induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) and displays an anticarcino-genic property in vivo (Chakraborty A et al., 2002). What is the active principle involved here?

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