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Shankapushpi - o principal tônico cerebral e outros usos



Shankapushpi - Convulvulus pluricaulis - é uma erva extraordinária para o tratamento e prevenção de problemas neurológicos degenerativos e outros problemas como insônia, problemas cognitivos e cansaço mental. Coloco aqui um artigo de revisão publicado no Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine Volume 4, Issue 3, March 2014, Pages 245-252, de autoria de Parul Agarwa Bhawna Sharma Amreen Fatima Sanjay KumarJain. É muito interessante e instrutivo, mostrando o valor dessa preciosa planta medicinal. No Suddha Sabha Yoga Ashram estamos plantando um excelente área de Shankapushpi, que pode ser encontrado na Farmacia Kalayasa Aushadi 


An update on Ayurvedic herb Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy

Author links open overlay panelParulAgarwaBhawnaSharmaAmreenFatimaSanjay KumarJain

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Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy (C. pluricaulis) is a perennial herb that seems like morning glory. All parts of the herb are known to possess therapeutic benefits. The plant is used locally in Indian and Chinese medicine to cure various diseases. It is used in Ayurvedic formulation for chronic cough, sleeplessness, epilepsy, hallucinations, anxiety etc. Based on the comprehensive review of plant profile, pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, pharmacological and toxicological data on the C. pluricaulis, there will be more opportunities for the future research and development on the herb C. pluricaulis. Information on the C. pluricaulis was collected via electronic search (using Pub Med, SciFinder, Google Scholar and Web of Science) and library search for articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, information also was obtained from some local books on ethnopharmacology. This paper covers the literature, primarily pharmacological, from 1985 to the end of 2012. The C. pluricaulis is an important indigenous medicine, which has a long medicinal application for liver disease, epileptic disease, microbial disease, cytotoxic and viral diseases, central nervous system (CNS) disease in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and other indigenous medical systems. The isolated metabolites and crude extract have exhibited a wide of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological effect, including CNS depression, anxiolytic, tranquillizing, antidepressant, antistress, neurodegenerative, antiamnesic, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antiulcer, anticatatonic, and cardiovascular activity. A chemical study of this plant was then initiated, which led to the isolation of carbohydrats, proteins, alkaloids, fatty acids, steroids, coumarins, flavanoids, and glycosides as active chemicals that bring about its biological effects. A series of pharmacognostical studies of this plant show that it is a herb, its stem and leaves are hairy, more over it has two types of stomata, anisocytic and paracytic. A herb, C. pluricaulis has emerged as a good source of the traditional medicine for the treatment of liver disease, epileptic disease, microbial disease, cytotoxic and viral diseases, and CNS disease. Pharmacological results have validated the use of this species in traditional medicine. All the parts of the herb are known to possess therapeutic benefits. Expansion of research materials would provide more opportunities for the discovery of new bioactive principles from C. pluricaulis.

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Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy






1. Introduction

In the last few years, there has been an exponential growth in the field of herbal medicine, and these drugs are gaining popularity both in developing and developed countries because of their natural origin and less side effects[1]. Early humans recognized their dependence on nature for a healthy life, and since that time humanity has depended on the diversity of plant resources for food, clothing, shelter, and medicine to cure myriads of ailments[2]. Shankhpushpi of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia of India consists of the whole plant of Convulvulus pluricaulis Choisy (Convolvulaceae) syn (C. pluricaulis) and Convulvulus microphyllusSieb. ex Spreng (C. microphyllus)[3]. Plants other than C. pluricaulis use the name Shankhpushpi in different parts of the country. These include Evolvulus alsinoidesLinn, Clitoria ternatea Linn and Canscora decussata Schult.

Indian Council of Medical Research has given quality standards for C. pluricaulisdrug in its publication[4]. Although these plants proved their scientific potential in central nervous system depression, anxiolytic, tranquillizing, antidepressant, antistress, neurodegenerative, antiamnesic, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antiulcer, anticatatonic, and cardiovascular activity. These are reported to contain several types of alkaloids, flavanoids, and coumarins as active chemicals that bring about its biological effects[5].

The plant has been found to be effective in reducing different types of stress including psychological, chemical and traumatic. The ethanolic and methanolic extracts of the whole plant reduced spontaneous motor activity, potentiated pentobarbitone hypnosis and morphine analgesia, reduced fighting response, abolished the conditioned avoidance response, antagonized convulsive seizures and tremorine induced tremors in mice. The juice of whole plant prevents excessive menstruation. The fine paste made by grinding the plant is helpful to cure abscess. Ethanolic extract of whole plant when administred to cholesterol fed gerbils, reduced serum cholesterol, Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids significantly after 90 d. The root extract of this plant regulated hyperthyroidism in female mice. The juice of fresh whole plant of C. pluricaulispossessed anti-ulcerogenic effect and is comparable to sucralfate. Ethanolic extract of the entire plant exerted a negative inotropic action on amphibian and mammalian myocardium. It also exerted spasmolytic activity on smooth muscles[6].


1.1. Plant profile and synonyms

igure 1 shows the profile of this plant, and the synonyms of this plant include C. pluricaulis and C. microphyllus[7].

Figure 1. C. pluricalis.

1.2. Scientific classification

The scientific classification of C. pluricaulis is demonstrated as follows[8]:













1.3. Vernacular names

The vernacular names of C. pluricaulis is described as follows:





Hindi:Shankhapushpi, Aparajit




Tamil:Sanghupushpam, kakkurattai



1.4. Description

C. pluricaulis is a perennial herb that seems like morning glory. Its branches are spread on the ground and can be more than 30 cm long. The flowers are blue in color (5 mm) and the leaves, which are elliptic in shape (2 mm), are located at alternate positions with branches or flowers. Known as Aloe weed in English, the herb is commonly found in India, especially in the state of Bihar[9].


1.5. Chemical constituents

The chemical constituents of C. pluricaulis are shown in Table 1[5].

Table 1. Chemical constituents of C. pluricaulis.

ClassChemical constituents

CarbohydratsD-glucose, maltose, rhamnose, sucrose, starch and other carbohydrats

Proteins and amino acidsProteins and amino acids

AlkaloidsShankhapushpine, convolamine, convoline, convolidine, convolvine, confoline, convosine

Fatty acids/volatile acids/fixed oilVolatile oils, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, hydrocarbons,myristic acids, palmitic acids and linoleic acids

Phenolic/glycosides/triterpenoids/steroidsScopoletin, β-sitosterol, ceryl alcohols, 20-oxodotriacontanol, tetratriacontanoic acids, flavonoid-kampferol, steroids-phytosterols


1.6. Medicinal importance of C. pluricaulis

C. pluricaulis is of various medicinal uses. It is used for treatment of hypertension, neurodegenerative diseases, ulcers, high blood pressure, epilepsy, vomiting, diabetes, sun stroke and bleeding. In addition, it can also be used to improve memory and decrease cholesterol[10].

1.7. Traditional uses

Many previous studies have reported the traditional uses of C. pluricaulis. This plant is reported to be a prominent memory improving drug, a psychostimulant and tranquilize, and reduce mental tension. There is a pertinent reference in Ayurvedic literature about the use of the drug as brain tonic in hypotensive syndromes. The pharmacological studies of the herb have shown varying degree of its hypotensive and tranquilizing effects. Clinical studies have exhibited demonstrable beneficial effects of C. pluricaulis on the patients of anxiety neurosis. The herb induces a feeling of calm and peace, good sleep and a relief in anxiety, stresses, mental fatigue, producing a significant reduction in the level of anxiety, neuroticism arising due to various levels of stresses. The herb appears to produce its action by modulation of neurochemistry of the brain. The plant improves the balance and vitiation in kapha-vata-pitta doshas, and the herb is astringent and bitter[11].


2. Macroscopic characters

Preliminary macroscopical characters of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves) are given in Table 2[12].

Table 2. Preliminary macroscopical characters of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves).

C. pluricaulisCharacters

Stem structuresLengthSeveral prostrate stems (10-30 cm)

SurfaceClothed with silky hairs

Internodes10-12 mm


Leaf structuresDimensionLength=1.12 cm; breadth=0.1 cm

AttachmentLeaf stalk absent



Leaf lamina shapeLinear

Leaf marginEntire

Leaf apexAcute

Leaf baseDecurrent

Leaf textureWhole (brittle)



Leaf surfaceHairy

3. Microscopic characters

Preliminary microscopical characters of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves) are given in Table 3[13].

Table 3. Preliminary microscopical characters of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves).

C. pluricaulisCharacters

Stem structuresOutline in transverse sectionTerete, wings absent


Present, conical, unicellular

GlandularPresent, stalk unicellular, head multicellular




Pericyclic fibersPresent

Phloem fibersPresent

PithCells pitted in older stem

Leaf structuresOutline in transverse sectionConcave-convex

CollenchymaPresent beneath upper epidermis

Calcium oxalatePlenty, along veins




StomataBoth anisocytic and paracytic types on either side

Stomata numberUpper surface202-216-238

Lower surface188-223-251

Stomatal indexUpper surface16.9-18.0-17.2

Lower surface14.8-16.3-17.2

Vein-islet number7.5-8.0-9.0

Extractive valueWater soluble18.21

Alcohol soluble16.14


4. Pharmacological activities

Preliminary pharmacological activities of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves) are given in Table 4[14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29].

Table 4. Preliminary pharmacological activities of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves).

ActivityPlant part/extractDose/modelStandard DrugResult

Antioxidant activityWhole part/chloroform84%, 83%, 48%/DPPH modelAscorbic acidThe C. pluricaulis extract possesses significant anticonvulsant activity when tested in vitro.

Antioxidant activityWhole part/methanolic41 pg/mL/DPPH modelAscorbic acidThe C. pluricaulis extract demonstrated significant free radical scavenging effect.

Anticonvulsant activityWhole part/methanolic500, 1000 mg/kg/MES modelPhenytoinThe C. pluricaulis extract at this dose didn't abolish the hind limb extension, but reduced the mean recovery time from convulsion.

Antidepressant activityWhole part/ethanolic50, 100 mg/kg/TST and FST modelImipramine or fluoxetineThe result showed that only chloroform fraction in this doses significantly reduced the immobility time in both FST & TST.

Anxiolytic activityAerial part/ethanolic200 mg/kg/EPM modelDiazepamThe result showed that ethyl acetate fractions at this dose reduced the neuromuscular co-ordination indicative of the muscle relaxant activity.

Anxiolytic activityFlower part/ethanolictoo, 200, 400 mg/kg/EPM modelDiazepamThe result demonstrated that the flower extract of plant exerted anxiolytic effect in mice on EPM.

Learning behavior and memory enhancement activityWhole part/ethanolic100 mg/kg/passive avoidance paradigms and active avoidance testPiracetamThe C. pluricaulis extract exhibited potent memory enhancing effects.

Learning behavior and memory enhancement activityRoot part/ethanolic200 mg/kg/passive avoidance paradigms and active avoidance testPiracetamThe result shown that higher retension was observed with plant extract as compared with standard drug.

Anti thyroid activityRoot part/ethanolic0.4 mg/kg/radioimmumoas say techniqueMethimazoleThe result indicated that C. pluricaulis extract inducing inhibition in thyroid function was primarily mediated through T4 to T3 conversion.

Antiulcer activityWhole part/ethanolic375, 750 mg/kg/gastric ulcer modelSucralfateThe result was found due to augmentation of mucosal defensive factors like mucin secretion rather than acid pepsin.

Antiobsessive activityWhole part/methanolic200, 400 mg/kg/rota rod, hole board testFluoxetine, diagepamThe result shown that C. pluricaulis extract can modulate serotonin or dopaminergic levels.

Neuroprotec tive activityWhole part/aqueous150 mg/kg/EPM, MWM modelRivastigmine tartrateThe result shown that when scopolamine is induced, the C. pluricaulis extract may exert its potent enhancing activity through anti-AChE and antioxidant action.

Neuroprotec tive activityWhole part/aqueous150 mg/kg/EPM, MWM modelRivastigmine tartrateThe result shown that when aluminium chloride is induced, the C. pluricaulis extractpossesses neuroprotective potential, thus validating its use in alleviating toxic effects of aluminium.

Hepatoprotective activityLeaves part/ethanolic200, 400, 600 mg/kg/thioacetamide induced liver damage in ratsSilymarineThe result shown that C. pluricaulis extract possesses significant hepatoprotective property in thioacetamide induced liver toxicity in rat model.

Anti-bacterial activityWhole part/methanolicEscherichia coli ATCC 8739, Staphylococcus aureus 6538/Cup plate ModelTetracyclineThe result shown that C. pluricaulis extract is more active against Escherichia coli in comparision to Staphylococcus aureus.

Antiviral activityWhole part/aqueous150 mg/kg/scopolamine induced increased tau and amloid precursor proteinRivastigmineThe result shown that C. pluricaulis extract reduced the increased protein and mRNA levels of tau and AßPP levels followed by reduction in Aß levels compared with scopolamine treated group.

Nootropic activityWhole part/ethanolic250, 500 mg/kg/Cook and Weiil ley's pole climbing modelPiracetamThe result shown that C. pluricaulis extract is less effective than other species of Shankhpuspi (Evolvulus alsinoides).


DPPH: l,l-diphenyl-2-picryl- hydrazyl, MES: maximal electro shock, TST: tail suspension test, FST: forced swim test, EPM: elevated plus maze, MWM: moms water maze, CNS: central nervous system, AßPP: amyloid precursor protein.


5. Phytochemistry

The preliminary phytochemical screening carried out on ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves) revealed the presence of phytoconstituents such as alkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, carbohydrates, proteins, sterols, gum and mucilagescompounds. Diverse pharmacological properties and structurally novel compounds have been found for the alkaloids, flavanoids, glycosides, and steroids in C. pluricaulis suggesting that these compounds may be the major contributors for the traditional therapeutical effects of C. pluricaulis. Other compounds such as proteins, gum and mucilages have been also reported in C. pluricaulis.

5.1. Physical analysis

The physical analysis of C. pluricaulis are given in Table 5[30].

Table 5. Physical analysis of C. pluricaulis.


Foreign matter analysis(1.1350±0.1407)% w/w

Loss on drying(11.8500+0.7188)% w/w

Total ash(7.1300±0.3371)% w/w

Acid insoluble ash(3.9500±0.3905)% w/w

Water soluble ash(1.9500+0.1528)% w/w

Swelling indexAbsent

Foaming indexLess than 100

Phosphate 1% solution7.22

Phosphate 10% solution7.53

Extractive valueHot extraction (w/w)

Petroleum ether(0.8000±0.0288)%







5.2. Phytochemical test

The preliminary phytochemical test of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves) are given in Table 6[31, 32].

Table 6. Preliminary phytochemical test of ethanolic extracts of C. pluricaulis (leaves).

Phytochemical testsResults

Test for alkaloids+

Test for glycosides+

Test for carbohydrates+

Test for saponins-

Test for fats and oils-

Test for flavonoids+

Test for tannis and phenolic compounds-

Test for protein+

Test for gums and mucilage+

Test for steroids+


+: presence of compound; -: absence of compound.


5.3. Phytochemical structures

The phytochemical structures present in C. pluricaulis are given in Table 7[33, 34].

Table 7. Phytochemical structures present in C. pluricaulis.

Chemical name D-glucose is also known as dextrose or grape sugar. It is a simple monosaccharide found in the plants

Maltose Maltose is also known as maltobiose or malt sugar, a disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined with α bond

Rhamnose Rhamnose is a naturally occurring deoxy sugar

SucroseSucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose

Convolvine Convolvine is an alkaloid, present in the leaves and stem of this species

StarchStarch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined by glycosidic bonds


Myristic acid Myristic acid also called tetradecanoic acid, is a common saturated fatty acids

Palmitic acid Palmitic acid also called hexadecanoic acid, is the most common fatty acid found in animals, plant and microorganism

Scopoletin Scopoletin is a coumarin found in root of plants in the genus scopolia

Linoleic acid Linoleic acid belongs to one of the two families of esential fatty acids; it is an unsaturated n-6 fatty acid

Kampferol Kampferol is a natural flavonol, a type of flavonoid; kaempferol have a wide range of pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, antiosteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic activities

β-sitosterol β-sitosterol is one of several phytosterols (plant sterols) with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol. It is used in treating hypercholesterolemia

Cetyl alcohol Cetyl alcohol, also known as 1- hexadecanol and palmityl alcohol, is a fatty alcohol


6. Current Ayurvedic formulation

Many medicines are currently available in India, in which after mixing numerous plant extracts or powders with two or three Medhya plants including C. pluricaulisAyurvedic formulation is developed[35]. Some preparations have been subjected to clinical trials. Examples include:


6.1. Remem (Zydus Industries, India)

The syrup and tablets include the following 10 species: Centella asiatica (C. asiatica), Celastrus paniculatus (C. paniculatus), C. pluricaulis, Asparagus racemosus (A. racemosus), Acorus calamus (A. calamus), Embelia ribes (E. ribes), Tinospora cordifolia, Achyrantes aspera, Terminalia chebula and Saussurea lappa[35].


6.2. Tirukati

Tirukati includes 13 species: Bacopa monnieri, C. pluricaulis, C. asiatica, A. racemosus, Valeriana wallichii, Rueraria tuberosa, Saussurea lappa, E. ribes, Tinospora cordifolia, Operculina turpethum, Pavonia odorata, Caryophyllus aromaticus and Foeniculum vulgare[35].


6.3. Ayumemo (Welexlabs, India)

Ayumemo consists of 5 species: C. asiatica, C. pluricaulis, C. paniculatus, Withania somnifera, and A. racemosus[35].


6.4. Abana (The Himalaya Drug and Co, India)

The syrup and tablets include 19 species: C. asiatica, C. pluricaulis, C. paniculatus, Balsamodedron mukul, Ocimum sanctum, Nardostachys jatamansi, Piper longum, Carum copticum, Zingiber officinalis, Cyperus rotundus, A. calamus, E. ribes, Syzygium aromaticum, Santalum album, Elettaria cardamomum, Foeniculum vulgare, Rosa damascena, Cinnamomum cassia and Crocus sativus[35].


6.5. Tejras (Sandu Brothers, India)

The syrup consists of the following 12 species: C. asiatica, C. pluricaulis, C. paniculatus, Eclipta alba, Cynodon dactylon, A. racemosus, Withania somnifera, Nardostachys jatamansi, A. calamus, Zingiber officinalis and Vetiveria zizanoides[35].


6.6. Shankhapushpi (Unjha Pharmacy, India)

The syrup includes 6 species: C. pluricaulis, C. asiatica, Nardostachys jatamansi, Nepeia hindostana, Nepeia elliptica and Onosma brateatum[35].


7. Toxicity

The LD50 of the whole extract of C. microphyllus by oral administration was found to be 1250 (1000-1400) mg/kg. Mice treated with the extract showed a sedative effect at doses greater than 200 mg/kg and reflected a moderate to marked decrease in locomotor activity which lasted 1-2 h. The decrease in motor activity due to spontaneous motor activity was observed during the study. At a higher dose (more than 1 g/kg) animals died due to respiratory distress[36].


8. Conclusion

The present review discusses the plant profile, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, phytochemistry of the herb, C. pluricauli. Glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloids, carbohydrates, steroids, proteins, gums and mucilage compounds are commonly present in this species. Pharmacological studies carried out on crude extracts and pure metabolites provided pragmatic documents for its traditional uses, and have revealed this herb to be a valuable source for medicinally important molecules.

Conflict of interest statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.


The authors are thankful to the authorities of Bundelkhand University Jhansi for providing support to the study and other necessary facility like internet surfing, library and other technical support to write a review article.



This is a review paper on the benefits of C. pluricaulis as an alternative medicine for many diseases. The pharmacological effects exhibited by this plant have been elaborated in depth with citations from studies that have been conducted using this Ayurvedic plant.

Research frontiers

There is no lab experiment being done in this manuscript since it is a review paper. However, the author cited latest and recent publications on works done in this particular field, in which bring the readers to the recent analytical approach for pharmacological potential of this plant.

Related reports

The author cited different papers in his manuscript to support the therapeutic potential of C. pluricaulis in traditional medicine. Past studies mostly presented the pharmacological activities of this plant done in vitro and in vivo.

Innovations and breakthroughs

This review paper is one of its own in which it summarizes any research that have been conducted on C. pluricaulis specifically in medicinal field. It is a good source of literature survey for researchers who intended to do studies in this particular field, and use this plant.


This paper could be applied by most Ayurvedic practitioners in their medication activities to treat patients with different types of diseases.

Peer review

This paper is a good review paper on Ayurvedic and pharmacological activities of C. pluricaulis. Citations used are also a good resources for reviewing and very informative to all the Ayurvedic and traditional practitioners.



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Foundation Project: Supported by Institute of Pharmacy, Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, U.P, India (Grant No. BU/PHARM/2013/1003).

Peer reviewer

Prof. Vanessa Steenkamp, Department of Pharmacology, P.O. Box 2034, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. E-mail:

Shashi Alok, Assistant Professor, Institute of Pharmacy, Bundelkhand University, Jhansi (U.P.), India.

Tel: +91 9450036362



This paper is a good review paper on Ayurvedic and pharmacological activities of C. pluricaulis. Citations used are also a good resources for reviewing and very informative to all the Ayurvedic and traditional practitioners.

Details on Page 251

Available online 28 Mar 2014


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