Popular Medicinal Plants of Ayurveda

Allium sativum


Family :- Liliaceae

Botanical name :- Allium sativum Linn.

Synonyms :- Poor man’s Treacle, Clove Garlic.

Habitat :- Central Asia is considered to be the region of origin; introduced to the Mediterranean; cultivated worldwide.

Morphology :

Medicinal Parts : The medicinal parts are the whole fresh bulb, the dried bulb, and the oil of garlic.

Flower and Fruit : The long-pedicled flowers have a cyme with few florets. The numerous bulbils shed simultaneously. The flowers usually remain in bud from and often do not produce any seed. The petals are reddish or greenish white and longer than the stamens. The anters of the middle stamens are spread at the base and have fan-shaped tips.

Leaves, Stem and Root :- Allium sativum is a perennial. The plant is 25 to 70 cm high with an erect, regid or crook-like stem, which is leafy to the middle. The leaves are flat, 4 to 25 mm, broad-linear, rough or smooth-edged, with a wedge-shaped tip. The sheath is beaked and longer than the inflorescence. The garlic bulb is usually a compound bulb; secondary bulbs are ovate. The bulb skin is silky white or green.

Production :- Bulbous garlic consists of fresh or carefully dried bulbs which consist of the main bulb with several secondary bulbs (cloves). Garlic may be harvested in September and October when the leaves and bulbs are dry.

Chemical Constituents :

The essential oil obtained from the bulb contains allicin, diallyl disulfide, allyl propyldisulfide and other sulfur compounds.

Rasa (taste) – Madhur (sweet), Lavan (salty), Kashaya (astringent), Tickt (bitter) and katu (pungent)
Gunna – Tikshan (sharp), guru (heavy) and snigdh (slimy)
Virya (potency) – Ushan (hot)
Prabhav (action) – Brain Tonic

Actions and Pharmacology
Compounds :-
Alliins (alkylcysteine sulfoxides): in particular allylallin (ally-L-(+)-systeine sulfoxide) and its gamma-glutamyl conjugates, that in the course of cutting up either the freshly-harvested bulbs or those that have been already dried and then re-moistened, are transformed into the so-called alliaceous oils: for example, into allicin (diallyl-disulphide-mono-S-oxide), cycloalliin, cinyl dithiins and diallyl-di- and trisulphides.

Fructosans (polysaccharides)


Effects :-
The anti-bacterial, anti-mycotic, and lipid-lowering effects of garlic are proven. The drug also inhibits platelet aggregation, prolongs bleeding and clotting time, and enhances fibrinolytic activity.

Indication and Usage :-
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Common Cold
  • Cough/bronchitis
  • Fevers and Colds
  • Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  • Tendency to infection
Garlic is used as a supportive to dietetic measures for elevated lipid levels in blood. The drug is also used as a preventative measure for age-related vascular changes. In folk medicine, garlic is utilized internally for arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, colds, cough, whooping cough, and bronchitis. Garlic is also used for gastrointestinal ailments, particularly for digestive disorders with bloating and convulsive pain. Other used include: menstrual pains, treatment of diabetes, and as a tonic for diverse illnesses and debilities; externally for corns, warts, calluses, otitis, muscle pain, neuralgia, arthritis, and sciatica.

Precautions and adverse reactions :-
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. The intake of large quantities can lead to stomach complaints. Frequent contact with the drug leads on rare occasion to allergic reactions (hand eczema).


Mode of Administration :- The minced bulb and preparations are for internal use and external treatment. Garlic oil in the form of maceration or as a result of steam distillation is widely available.

Preparation :- Garlic oil maceration- bulbs are homogenized and stirred in fatty oil (1:1) for 48 hours, and filtered.

Solid garlic extract :- and extraction of the chopped bulbs with ethanol or methanol is allowed to evaporate.

Aqueous extract :- fresh bulbs are macerated in cold water (1:1).

Fermented garlic :- the minced drug is soaked over a long duration in a water-ethanol mixture, volatile agents escape and the garlic becomes odorless. Steam distillations and tinctures are also possible.

Daily Dosage :- The average daily dose is 4 gm of fresh garlic or 8mg of essential oil. One fresh garlic clove, 1 to 2 times daily. Storage :- Garlic should be hung in plaits in a dry place.


1. Anonym, Knoblauch: Blockade der Cholesterinsynthese in der Leber. In : DAZ 134(450:4468. 1994.
2. Apitz-Castro R et al., (1983) Thromb Res 32:155.
3. Augusti KT, Benaim ME, (1974) Clin Chim Acta 60:121.
4. Augusti KT, Mathew PT, (1974) Experientia 30:468.
5. Block E et al., (1984) J Am Chem Soc 106:8295.
6. Brahmachar MD, Augusti KT, (1962) J Pharm Pharmacol 14:254 and 617.
7. Chaudhuri BN et al., (1984) Biomed Biochim Acta 41:1045.
8. Ide N et al., Aged garlic extract and its constituents inhibit Cu++-induced oxidative modification of low density lipoproteins. In PM 63(3):263-264. 1997.
9. Imai J et al., Antioxidant and radical scavenging effects of aged garlic extracts and its constituents. In: PM 60(5):417. 1994.
10. Jain AK, Can garlic reduce level of serum

Alkanna tinctoria


Family : Boraginaceae
Botanical name : Alkanna tinctoria (TAUSCH.))
Synonyms: Anchusa, Dyer’s Bugloss, Spanish Bugloss, Alkanet root

Habitat : The plant is indigenous to southeastern Europe and some parts of Turkey and Hungary; cultivated in other parts or Europe, Britain, and northern Africa.

Morphology : Medicinal Parts : The medicinal part is the root of the plant (the dried roots and rhizomes).

Flower and Fruit : The calyx is 4 to 5 mm in the flower, 5 to 6 mm in the fruit and is glandular. The corolla is blue and glabrous outside. The funnel is as long as or slightly longer than the calyx. The limb is 6 to 7 mm in diameter. There are 5 stamens and the anthers are fused with the corolla tube. The nutlets are 2 mm in diameter, irregularly reticulate and tuberculate.

Leaves, Stem and Roo t: Alkanna is a short-bristled, perennial half-rosette shrub. The stems are 10 to 20 cm, procumbent or ascending and glandular. The basal leaves are 6 to 15 cm by 0.7 to 1.5 cm, linear-lanceolate; the lower ones are cauline, oblong-linear and cordate at base. The neck of the root is covered with the remains of leaves and the stems. The root is spindle-shaped, curved, up to 25 cm long and 1.5 cm thick, with purplish root bark.

Production : Alkanna rhizomesare the dried roots and rhizomes of Alkann tinctoria Tausch.

Actions and Pharmacology

Naphthazarine Derivatives : Including the ester of the (-)-Alkannin (Stained Red)
Pyrolizidine Alkaloids

Effects :

Antimicrobial action : In the agar diffusion test, Alkanna root extracts and alkannin esters impaired the growth of staplylococcus aureus and staphylococcus epidermis; however alkannin worked only against candida albicans.

Healing action for wounds : in a double-blind study, 72 patients suffering from ulcers of the leg (Ulcus Cruris) caused by varicose veins, were treated with Histoplastin. After 5 to 6 weeks daily administration, 80% of the patient’s ulcers had healed or were considerably reduced in size. The results are difficult to access, as details concerning the patients, the treatment pattern and control group are unavailable.

Indications and Usage

Used by the ancient Greeks to heal wounds; also for skin diseases and diarrhea. Efficacy has not been adequately proven.

Precautions and Adverse reactions Hepatotoxicity and carcinogenity are expected, due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids with 1, 23-unsaturated necic parent substances in its makeup. Alkanna should not be taken internally for this reason.

Mode of Administration : Seldom used as a drug. Taking internally is not to be recommended in any way, due to its toxic characteristics and its uncertain efficacy. Alkannin and extracts of the root are used externally in pharmacy.

Preparations : Extractum Alcannae: almost black, green glistening mass (no extraction information).

Histoplastin Red ointment : the ointment approved in Greece, contains 76.5g loosely defined ethereal oily alkanna root extract with lipophil ointment base (beeswax, mastic rubber and olive oil q.s. ad 100g).


1. Majlathova L (1971) Nahrung 15:505.
2. Papageorgiou VP (1980) Planta Med 38(3):193-203.
3. Papageorgiou VP, PM 31:390-394. 1997.
4. Papageorgiou VP, Digenis GA, PM 39:81-84, 1980.
5. Rober E, Pyrrolizidinhaltige Arzneipflanzen. In: DAZ 132(45):2427-2435. 1992.
6. Rober E et al., PH 23:2125-2126. 1984.
7. Wiedenfield H et al., (1985) Arch Pharm 318(4):294.

Further information in:
1. Hansel R, Keller K, Rimpler H, Schneider G (Hrsg.), Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5. Aufl., Bde 4-6 (Drogen), Springer Verlag Berlin, Heidelberg, New Rork, 1992-1994.
2. Wichtl M (Hrsg.), Teedrogen, 4. Aufl., Wiss. Verlagsges. Stuttgart 1997.