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Indian sarsaparilla
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Hemidesmus
Species: H. indicus
Binomial name
Hemidesmus indicus
(L.) R.Br.
  • Periploca indica

Hemidesmus indicus, Indian sarsaparilla ( Sanskrit: क्षीरिणी Kshirini, कराला Karala,اُشبا punjabi), is a species of plant that is found in South Asia. It is a slender, laticiferous, twining, sometimes prostrate or semi-erect shrub. Roots are woody and aromatic. The stem is numerous, slender, terete, thickened at the nodes. The leaves are opposite, short-petioled, very variable, elliptic-oblong to linear-lanceolate. The flowers are greenish outside, purplish inside, crowded in sub-sessile axillary cymes. It is occurs over the greater part of India, from the upper Gangetic plain eastwards to Assam and in some places in central, western and South India.

The root is a substitute for sarsaparilla (the dried root of the tropical species of Smilax, Smilacaceae; in India Smilax aspera L., and Smilax ovalifolia Roxb.). It should be distinguished from American Sarsaparilla Smilax aristolochaefolia Mill and Jamaican Sarsaparilla Smilax ornata Hook.f. (Puri 2003)

Traditional uses[edit]

H. indicus is used to make beverages and also used in traditional medicine. In Ayurveda it goes by the name of ananthamoola or Anantmula. It is also called the False Sarsaparilla. It is administered in the form of powder, infusion or decoction as syrup. It is one of the Rasayana plants of Ayurveda. [1] It is sometimes confused with another Ayurvedic herb called white sariva. Studies have proven its anti-diabetic effect both in vitro and in vivo.[2] [3]

Chemical constituents[edit]

The roots of H. indicus contain hexatriacontane, lupeol, its octacosanoate, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, its acetate and sitosterol. It also contains new coumarino-lignoid-hemidesminine, hemidesmin I and hemidesmin II50, six pentacyclic triterpenes including two oleanenes, and three ursenes. The stem contains calogenin acetylcalogenin-3-0-β-D-digitoxopyrannosyl-0-β-D-digitoxopyronsyl-0-β-D-digitoxopyranoside. It also afforded 3-keto-lup-12-en-21 28-olide along with lupanone, lupeol-3-β-acetate, hexadecanoic acid, 4-methoxy-3-methoxybenzalaldehyde and 3-methoxy-4-5methoxybenzalaldehydglycosides-indicine and hemidine. The leaves contain tannins, flavonoids, hyperoside, rutin and coumarino. Leucoderma lignoids such as hemidesminine, hemidesmin I and hemidesmin II are rare group of naturally occurring compounds present in leaves.


  1. ^ Kottakkal, [edited by] Vaidyaratnam P S Varier's Arya Vaidya Sala, (1996). Indian medicinal plants : a compendium of 500 species. Vol.3 (1. publ. ed.). Madras: Orient Longman. ISBN 9788125003021. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Rastogi, Archit; Mahalingam Gayathri, Munusami Punnagai (September 2013). "An in Vitro investigation into the Mechanism of Anti-Diabetic activity of selected Medicinal Plants". International Journal of Drug Development & Research 5 (3): 221. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Mahalingam, Gayathri; Krishnan Kannabiran (March 2008). "Hypoglycemic activity of Hemidesmus indicus R. Br. on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats". International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries 28 (1): 6. doi:10.4103/0973-3930.41979. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemidesmus_indicus — Please support Wikipedia.
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