An update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition-boosting Ayurvedic medicine.

Herbal Drug Technology Laboratory, Department of Pharmacy, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine 11/2009; 7(11):1001-22. DOI: 10.3736/jcim20091101
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Shankhpushpi is an Ayurvedic drug used for its action on the central nervous system, especially for boosting memory and improving intellect. Quantum of information gained from Ayurvedic and other Sanskrit literature revealed the existence of four different plant species under the name of Shankhpushpi, which is used in various Ayurvedic prescriptions described in ancient texts, singly or in combination with other herbs. The sources comprise of entire herbs with following botanicals viz., Convulvulus pluricaulis Choisy. (Convulvulaceae), Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. (Convulvulaceae), Clitoria ternatea Linn. (Papilionaceae) and Canscora decussata Schult. (Gentianaceae). A review on the available scientific information in terms of pharmacognostical characteristics, chemical constituents, pharmacological activities, preclinical and clinical applications of controversial sources of Shankhpushpi is prepared with a view to review scientific work undertaken on Shankhpushpi. It may provide parameters of differentiation and permit appreciation of variability of drug action by use of different botanical sources.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Shankhapushpi is one of the highly regarded Medhya Rasayana (nootropic herb) widely used in Ayurveda since antiquity with multi fold benefits, specifically to improve memory and intellect by their Prabhava (specific action) namely Medhya (Nootropic). It is used as both mono therapy or in combination. Controversy prevails owing to different botanical source and geographical variation. Though pharmacognostical standardization of shankhapushpi is available, difference of opinion in its usage is still in existence. There is a need to develop standardization protocols to identify and validate the botanical source of shankhapushpi used in the preparation of poly herbal compound preparations. Methods: Medhya Rasayana (MR) tablet, a poly herbal preparation containing shankhapushpi was compared to Clitoria ternatea and Evolvulus alsinoides – two controversial source of shankhapushpi of south India. For this purpose, methods employed are Microscopic characterization, HPTLC fingerprint profile and similarity index. Results: Comparative microscopic characterisations along with HPTLC finger prints were developed. The finger print of Evolvulus species was found more super imposable with that of Medhya Rasayana than Clitoria ternatea. Conclusions: The methods employed may be used as standard to validate shankhapushpi in poly herbal formulations. 1. Introduction Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine is the first recorded medical science widely practiced in India since ancient times. The increasing acceptance of this holistic science owing to its effectiveness and safety in the global scenario has created great need to standardize herbal medicines. There are many herbs labelled as controversial either due to different botanical source or due to use of substitutes and sometimes adulterants too. Thus such herbal drugs need validation to meet up to the standards of the reliable quality control protocols. Shankhapushpi is one such important nootropic herbs widely used in Ayurveda with multi-fold benefits, specifically to improve Medha (memory, intellect and other higher mental faculties) by its Prabhava (specific action) [1] . This drug finds its application as medicine right from the neonatal period to boost Medha till management of ailments like Unmada (Psychosis), Apasmara (Seizure disorders) and other neuro-psychiatric conditions. The herb is largely used either as a mono-therapy or in poly-herbal and herbo-mineral formulations. Few important formulations that involve Shankhapushpi as an ingredient are Brahmi ghrita [2-3] Astanga ghrita [4] Brahma rasayana, [5] Agastya haritaki rasayana, [6] Naladadi ghrita [7] Manasa mitra vati,
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