Trichosanthes tricuspidata: a medicinally important plant.
Sneh lata Bhandari, Upma Dobhal, Mamta Sajwan and N.S.Bisht.
Department of Botany, H.N.B.Garhwal University Campus Pauri, Pauri (Garhwal).
Uttaranchal, India.
Medicinal plants as a group comprise approximately 8000 species and account for around
50% of all the higher flowering plants in India. There are estimated to be over 7800
manufacturing units in India. India with its diversified biodiversity has a tremendous
potential and advantage in this emerging area. In recent years the growing demand for
herbal products has led to the extinction of many important herbs. Trichosanthes
tricuspidata is a less exploited plant with immense medicinal potential. Considering its
importance more research work is needed to explore other potentials of this plant.
Traditional medicinal systems are a part of India’s culture. Today the whole world
has dramatically turned towards auyrveda and traditional health systems. The demand of
medicinal plants is increasing in both developing and developed countries as a result of
recognition of the non-narcotic, no-side effects, easy availability of herbal drugs. Mostly
the medicinal plants are collected from the wild. This uncontrolled harvesting has
resulted in the extinction of these plants.
There are numerous data on the uses of medicinal plants. Gadgil and Vartak
(1981) have reported the uses of these plants in India. Therapeutic potential of the various
herbal drugs ranges from parts of plants, through simple extracts to isolated active
constituents. In the present paper we have attempted to compile the information available
on potency of Trichosanthes tricuspidata because of its immense medicinal potential.
Botany and distribution of the plant
T. tricuspidata also known as T. palmata Roxb. or T. bracteata Lamb., T. pubera
Blume or Modeccca bracteata belongs to the family cucurbitaceae and is known by
various vernacular names. In Hindi it is known as Lal Indrayan, in English - Redball
snakegourd, in Malaya – Kalayar, in Marathi – Kaundal, in Telgu – Avuduta, in Thai –
Khe- Ka- Daeng and in Nepal – Indreni.
T. tricuspidata is a vine which is found at an elevation of 1200 to 2300 m ranges
from the Eastern Himalayas, India, southern China through south, Japan, Malaysia,
Tropical Australia. In India it is found as a large climber often attaining a height of 9-10
meter. It has a robust stem, woody below with 3-cleft tendrils. The leaves are variable,
palmately 3-5 lobed, with cordate base and lobes are ovate to oblong with serrate or
dentate margins. Male flowers are in axillary 5-10 flowered racemes with large bracts
while the female flowers are solitary. The corolla petals are wedge shaped, fringed and
white in colour. The fruits are globose red when ripe with ten orange streaks.
Medicinal uses :
The plant is considered to be medicinally important as in ayurvedic medicines the
fruits are used in the treatment of asthma, ear-ache and ozoena. In Unani system of
medicine, the fruits are used as carminative, purgative, abortifacient, lessens
inflammations, cures migraine, heat of brain, opthalmia, leprosy, epilepsy and
rheumatism etc. The seeds of indrayan are emetic and a good purgative. In Thai
traditional system of medicine, the plant is used in antifever, as a laxative, anthelmintic as
well as in migraine treatments (Kanchanapoom et. al., 2002). The roots of the plant are
used in lung diseases of cattles and for the treatment of diabetic carbuncles and headache
(Chopra et. al., 1956). Gaur (1999) has reported the use of this plant in curing bronchitis,
and the application of seed paste on hoops and mouth disease of cattles.
The vaidyas also use the fruits in treating stomatitis. The oil made from the roots
is used as a painkiller. In Bastar (India) the plant is used for curing snake poison and the
juice of the plant is applied externally for eruptions. In Nepal the roots of indreni are used
in curing bleeding in chickens.
Chemical constituents
Mohamed (1973) isolated a tetrahydroxy pentacyclic triterpene “trichotetrol”
from the root extract of this vine. From the fruits of T. tricuspidata, 14 cucurbitane
glycosides were isolated (Kanchanapoom et.al., 2002). An extract of the fruits of this
plant was found to be cytotoxic in KB cells and two new cucurbitacins were reportedtricuspidatin and 2-O -glucocucurbitacin J. (Mal le P et.al., 2002). Kaneda and Uchikoba
(1994) reported a protease from the sarcocarp of the fruits of this plant. The root contains
methyl palmitate, palmitic acid, suberic acid, α-spinasterol, stigmast-7-en-3-beta-ol, αspinasterol 3-o-beta-D-glucopyranoside, stigmast-7-en-3-beta-ol-3-O -beta-Dglucopyranoside, glyceryl 1-palmitate, glyceryl 1-stearate, bryonolic acid, cucurbitacin B,
isocucurbitacin B, 3-epi-isocucurbitacin B, 23,24-dihydrocucurbitacin D, isocucurbitacin
D and D-glucose. The roots of T. tricuspidata contains more than 6 times cucurbitacin
than the roots of T. kirilowii Maxim. Var. japonicum Kitam. (Kitajima et.al., 1989).
Kasai et.al., (1999) isolated 3 new cycloartane glycosides, named cyclotricuspidosides A,
B and C from the leaf and stem parts.
A persual of literature reviewed shows that, T.tricuspidata has been widely used
for curing asthma, migraine, fever, diabetic carbuncles etc. due to its great therapeutic
potential. A number of pharmacologically important phytochemicals like cucurbitacins,
trichotetrol etc. have been isolated from this valuable plant by different workers. These
studies help in establishing a scientific basis for therapeutic uses of this plant. It might be
worth investigating the possible use of its active components for curing other diseases.
Further efforts should be directed towards purification, chemical characterization and
commercial synthesis of the active principles of Indrayana.
Gadgil, M and Vartak, V.D., 1981. In: Glimpses of Indian ethnobotany, by S.K.Jain (Ed.),
Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., New Delhi, pp. 279.
Gaur R.D. (1999) Flora Of The District Garhwal North West Himalaya. Transmedia Publishers,
Srinagar (Garhwal), p.811.
Chopra, R.N., Nayar, S.N. and Chopra, T.C., 1956. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants, CSIR,
New Delhi, p. 247.
Kitajima, J., Mukai, A., Masuda, Y., Tanaka, Y. 1989. Studies on the constituents of
Trichosanthes root. III. Constituents of roots of Trichosanthes bracteata Voight.
Kaneda, M. and Uchikoba, T. 1989. Protease from the sarcocarp of Trichosanthes bracteata.
(Art. In Japanese) Yakugaku Zasshi, 109 (4). 265-70.
Kasai, R., Sasaki, A., Hashimoto, T., Ohtani, K. and Yamasaki, K. 1999. Cycloartane glycosides
from Trichosanthes tricuspidata. Phytochemistry. 51, 803-808.
Kanchanapoom, T Ryoji, Kasai and Kazuo Yamasaki, 2002. Cucurbitane, hexanorcucurbitane
and octanorcucurbitane glycosides from fruits of Trichosanthes tricuspidata.
Phytochemistry, 59. 215-228.
Mohamed, P.A., 1973. Isolation of “Trichotetrol”- A new tetrahydroxy pentacyclic triterpene
from Trichosanthes bracteata (Cucurbitaceae). Linn.,Voight. Syn. T. palmata (Roxb.).
Current Science, p116
Mai le, P., Guenard, D., Franck, M. Van, T.M., Gaspard, C., and Sevenet, T. 1994. New
cytotoxic cucurbitacins from the pericarps of Trichosanthes tricuspidata fruits.
Phytochemistry : 35(3). 583-6.