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SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON ELAEOCARPUS GANITRUS (RUDRAKSHA) FOR ITS MEDICINAL IMPORTANCE

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  • Shobhit Institute of Engineering and Technology Meerut
  • Shobhit Institute of Engineering and Technology, Meerut

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Rudraksha (Elaeocarpusganitrus) owes an important status both in Ayurveda as well as in Hindu mythology for its curative and spiritual benefits, respectively. Physical wearing of Rudraksha has been cited for its pharmacological actions against vast range of medical ailments including anxiety, lack of concentration, insomnia, depression, hypertension, palpitation, infertility, rheumatism and asthma. The present review aims to investigate the scientific evidences available in literature for their biochemical and compositional properties, in-vitro and in-vivo activities, as well as clinical analysis.It clearly identifies the need to carry out in-depth research in the multiple domains such as physical, pharmacological, and clinical studies in order to understand and disseminate the medical benefits of Rudraksha for the welfare of mankind. The present work sums the current state of knowledge concerning the ethno pharmacology, physical properties chemical composition, pharmacology and toxicology of E. ganitrus.
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Pb. Univ. Res. J (Sci.) Vol. 68, 2018, pp 1-6
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON ELAEOCARPUS GANITRUS
(RUDRAKSHA) FOR ITS MEDICINAL IMPORTANCE
Durg V. Rai*, Shiva Sharma and Manisha Rastogi
Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Biological Engineering and Sciences,
Shobhit University, NH-58, Modipuram, Meerut-250110, India.
ABSTRACT
Rudraksha (Elaeocarpusganitrus) owes an important status both in Ayurveda as well as in Hindu mythology for its curative and spiritual
benefits, respectively. Physical wearing of Rudraksha has been cited for its pharmacological actions against vast range of medical ailments
including anxiety, lack of concentration, insomnia, depression, hypertension, palpitation, infertility, rheumatism and asthma. The present
review aims to investigate the scientific evidences available in literature for their biochemical and compositional properties, in-vitro and in-
vivo activities, as well as clinical analysis.It clearly identifies the need to carry out in-depth research in the multiple domains such as
physical, pharmacological, and clinical studies in order to understand and disseminate the medical benefits of Rudraksha for the welfare of
mankind. The present work sums the current state of knowledge concerning the ethno pharmacology, physical properties chemical
composition, pharmacology and toxicology of E. ganitrus.
Keywords: Rudraksha, Biochemical, Physical, Mineralogical, Clinical Trials.
INTRODUCTION
Rudraksha or Elaeocarpusganitrus roxb. (Syn. E.
sphaericus Gaertn; Family Elaeocarpaceae) fruits are
popular from ancient times for their mythological,
aesthetic and medicinal importance Joshi et al.
(2014). Elaeocarpusganitrusroxb.trees grow to ~20 m
and are found from the Gangetic plain in the foothills of
the Himalayas to China, South and Southeast Asia, parts
of Australia, and Guam and Hawaii.Rudraksha trees are
commonly found in mountain and hilly areas of Nepal,
Indonesia Javaand Sumatra. Dried Rudrakasha bead is
obtained from the ripe fruit of Elaeocarpus ganitrus
roxb.. Microscopic studies revealed the presence of a
hard endocarp with lignified isodiametric sclereids,
seeds with membranous seed coat, which enclosed a
dense cellular endosperm comprising of calcium oxalate
druses (Singh 2010).
Rudraksha fruits are generally categorized based upon
the number of segments or grooves or popularly mukhis
present over the fruit beads Tilak et al. (2017).
Figure 1 shows various stages related toRudraksha
bead.Rudraksha beads (size ~ 25 mm) have between 1
and 21 lines (mukhi). Most of rudrakshas have four, five
or six lines. Rudraksha beads are white, red, brown
(most common) yellow, and black.
Rudraksha seeds are covered with a blue outer husk
when fully ripe and are also known as blueberry beads.
The blue color is not derived from pigment but is
structural(Lee, 1991).
(a) (b)
(c) (d)
Figure 1: (a) Inflorescence on Rudraksha tree, (b)
Fruit on Rudraksha tree, (c) Ripen fruit and (d) Dried
Rudraksha bead (six mukhi).
*Corresponding Author: durgvrai@gmail.com
MS Received: October 8, 2018, Accepted: December 21, 2018
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Pharmacologically, Rudraksha beads have been reported
for their therapeutic potential against several disorders
like stress, anxiety, depression, palpitation, nerve pain,
epilepsy, migraine, lack of concentration, asthma,
hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and liver diseases Jain et
al. (2014). Further, in our traditional system of medicine,
Rudraksha beads have been reported to exert multiple
pharmacological actions when applied in several forms
such as physical wearing of Rudraksha rosary, oral
intake of Rudraksha dipped water or Rudraksha powder.
Moreover, it has also been mentioned that the specificity
in their therapeutic properties differs based upon the type
of grooves or Mukhis Shah et al. (2010); Tripathi et al.
(2016-a); Dadhich et al. (2014); Sharma et al. (2015);
Tilak et al. (2017); Jain et al. (2014); Tripathi et al.
(2016-b).
One of the major mechanisms of action of Rudraksha
beads through which it influences the systemic
physiology is its electromagnetic property. It has been
repeatedly mentioned in the published literature that
Rudraksha beads pose inductive, resistive, dielectric,
paramagnetic and diamagnetic properties due to which
variable signals were emitted by different
mukhiRudraksha thereby attributing positive beneficial
effect on overall systemic physiology Ravishankar et al.
(2007). However, scientific evidences regarding the
electromagnetic properties of Rudraksha beads are
almost nil. Single evidence regarding the bioelectric
energy of Rudraksha was found where the authors
reported that 108 beads Rudraksha rosary stabilized the
flocculation of current applied on two medicinal plants
Tripathy et al. (2016-a). Further, it has been
hypothesized that the composition of Rudraksha beads
may influence its electromagnetic property and
therefore, play key role in its therapeutic benefits.
Previous studies revealed presence of several bioactive
phytoconstituents including alkaloids, flavonoids,
tannins, steroids, triterpenoids, carbohydrates and
cardiac glycosides as the major components. In-addition,
other studies also reported presence of isoelaeocarpicine,
elaeocapine, isoelaeocarpine and quercetin, gallic,
ellagic acids and rudrakine as biomarker components in
Rudraksha bead.
The current review aims to assess the available scientific
evidences of Rudraksha bead with special reference to
their biochemical and compositional properties,
electromagnetic property, in-vitro and in-vivo activities,
and clinical studies.
BIOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS
Several reports related to biochemical constituents in
Rudraksha bead are availablein literature Jain et al.
(2014). These revealed presence of glycosides, alkaloids,
minerals, vitamins, steroids, flavanoid, gallic acid,
ellagic acid andquercetin in Rudraksha. Hardainiyan et
al. (2015) evaluated the ethanolic fruit extract of
Rudraksha and reported the presence of alkaloids,
glycosides, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, saponins,
carbohydrates and fixed oils, but protein and amino
acids were absent in this extract. Tripathi et al.
(2016-c), screened the presence of phytochemical in
hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, acetone and
methanol extracts of Rudraksha. Results showed the
presence of alkaloids, glycoside, phytosterols,
carbohydrate, tannin, flavanoid, amino acid, saponin,
and terpenoids. In another study Tripathi et al.
(2016-d), performed spectroscopic analysis on the
methanol seed extract of E. ganitrus. Analysis was
performed using FTIR and UV-VIS for the
phytochemical analysis. Results showed the presence
of phenolic compound and flavanoid at 318nm and
245nm, respectively, in UV-VIS whereas in whereas
FTIR spectra was obtained at the peak at 3363.97cm-
1 for OH group. Das (2017),reported the presence of
many significant phytochemicals like saponins,
tannins, cardiac glycosides, flavanoidsand steroids in
aqueous, ethanolic and methanolic extract of
Rudraksha. Singh et al. (2016; 2018) studied the
overall mechanical and compressive strength of
Rudraksha bead and revealed good compressive
strength in both the vertical and horizontal planes.
ELECTROMAGNETIC ANALYSIS
Electromagnetic properties in Rudrakshahave been
reported by several reviewers Joshi et al. (2014);
Jain et al. (2014); Arivu et al. (2017); Hardainiyan et
al. (2015),where Rudraksha was mentioned as a
famous electromagnetic bead helpful in curing
several chronic disorders. Tripathy et al. (2016-
b)stated the healing mechanism of Rudraksha due to
its electromagnetic property. The study reported that
the electromagnetic properties of Rudrakshabeads
activate body’s energy wheel, which in turn
influences the bioelectrical properties of human body
and heals various chronic diseases like blood
pressure, heart rate, diabetes, gynaecological
problem, neurological disorders, mental problem,
insomnia and rheumatism. In another report Tripathy
et al. (2016-a) mentioned that rotation of Rudraksha
between two copper coins is an evidence of its
electromagnetic property. The activity needs to be
confirmed with reasoning. Further, it explains the
electromagnetic and piezoelectric properties of
Rudraksha and their mechanism of action in
treatment. The authors stated that wearing of
Rudraksha works on electromagnetism and controls
bioelectric energy of human body, which in turn is
responsible for mind-body coordination and its
induced health benefits. Moreover, the authors
reported that chanting using Rudraksha mala has its
natural piezoelectric effects that would generate a
charge in response to applied mechanical stress and
work similar to acupressure therapy. In-addition,
diamagnetic and paramagnetic characteristics of the
Rudraksha further help in balancing the impaired
functioning by restoring the subatomic and
bioenergetics homeostasis. Prajapati et al. (2016)
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reported the electromagnetic characteristics of
Rudraksha on dracaena plant. Authors divided each plant
into two zones,i.e., Positive region (stem) and Negative
region (plant leave). To record the parameters Cu
electrodes were connected to the plant leaves and Zn
electrode to plant stem. Variations in the electrical
potential of the plant were observed from 1.1 to 0.8 mV
without Rudraksha, which got stabilized to 0.8 mV after
wearing of Rudraksha. Based upon the study outcomes,
the authors reported the presence of capacitive, resistive
and inductive properties in Rudraksha. Tilak et al.
(2017), reviewed the potential benefits of physical
wearing of Rudraksha due to its electromagnetic
properties. Authors reported that physical wearing of
Rudraksha exerted implausible power control over
electromagnetic impulses brain and focus human brain
on a single target. The study stated that
electromagnetism of Rudraksha affects grey and white
matter in brain, thereby influencing our sixth sense.
Sharma et al. (2018) reported thequantitative electrical
properties of Rudraksha bead and the possible
biochemical and mineralogical components responsible
for its bioelectrical property. Results of this study
indicate the presence of 27 important minerals with
variable electrical properties.
IN VITRO ANALYSIS
The antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-cancerous, and
immunomodulatory activities of different solvent
mediated Rudraksha extracts have been studied.
Chemically the extracts showed the presence of
phytosterols, fats, alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates,
proteins and tannins (Singh 2010). Kumar et. al. (2014)
isolated several bioactive compound from the different
parts of the plant and were analysed pharmacologically.
E. ganitrus was reported to exhibit antimicrobial,
antiulcerogenic and antioxidant activity. Dharmalingam
et al. (2017) studied antimicrobial activities of hexane,
chloroform, ethylacetate and aqueous alcohol extracts of
Rudraksha against gram-positive and gram-negative
bacteria. The microbial load such as total bacterial count
and fungal count (Enterobacteria, Escherichia coli,
Salmonella species, Staphylococcus aureus and
Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and antibacterial activity were
measured using serial dilution method and Kirby bauer
method, respectively, for selective pathogens. The study
results demonstrated potent antibacterial activity of all E.
ganitrus extract against gram-positive and gram-
negative bacteria. Jayashree et al. (2016), evaluated the
antimicrobial activities for acetone, methanol and water
extracts of Rudraksha (leaf, stem, bark and Rudraksha
bead) against four bacterial species (Shigellasonnei,
Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella
pneumonia) and a fungal species (Candida albicans)
using the agar well diffusion method. Results showed
that plant extracts exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition
of microorganisms, especially the acetone and methanol
extracts of leaf and stem bark displayed maximum
antibacterial activity against all the bacterial species
studied. Dalei et al.(2016) investigated antimicrobial
activity of methanol, and acetone extracts of pulp
and bead of E. ganitrus. The extracts exhibited
antimicrobial activities with zones of inhibition
ranging from 9.5 mm to 21.0mm and 10.5 mm to 22
mm for methanol and acetone extracts respectively.
All extracts exhibited appreciable activity against the
fungal species. Tripathy et al. (2016-c) studied
antibacterial potential of Rudraksha against two
gram positive and five gram negative bacteria at
three concentration (220, 330, 550 μg/Disc) through
disc diffusion method. Results showed zone of
inhibition in the range of 6 to 12 mm with highest
zone of inhibition at 12mm for Escherichia Coli at
550 μg/Disc. These findings demonstrated
antibacterial activity of E.ganitrusextract. Das et al.
(2015) evaluated antioxidant activities of Rudraksha
where comparable results were obtained with
standard ascorbic acid. In DPPH antioxidant analysis
while standard Ascorbic acid showedEC50 value at
25.53 μg/ml, methanolic extract of E. serratus
showed EC50 at 75.47 μg/ml.
IN VIVO ANALYSIS
Barveet al. (2014) examined antihypertensive effect
of E. ganitrus on male Wistar rats. To perform the
analysis, powdered seeds were extracted by
maceration using water in copper (E1) and glass
vessel (E2) and analyzed for antihypertensive
activity in cadmium chloride (1 mg/kg
intraperitoneally; for a period of 15 days) induced
rats. E1 was administered at dose of 5, 10, and 15
mg/kg and E2 at dose of 10, 20, and 30 mg/kg. E1
and E2 did not show any toxicity at dose of 5 g/kg in
rats. It was found that 15 mg/kg of E1 and 30 mg/kg
of E2 decreases the blood pressure by ~30 mmHg in
hypertensive rats. Overall results showed effective
antihypertensive activity using water extract of
Rudraksha.
Dadhich et al. (2014) evaluated antidepressant
effects of Rudraksha Bead extract (75% ethanol) in
albino mice. Study was carried out on Group I
(Untreated Control received vehicle (Distilled
water)), Group II (Control (Fluoxetine) 20 mg/kg
body weight) and Group III (Control (Imipramine)
15 mg/kg) administrated orally with distilled water.
Group IV, V, VI and VII were administered orally
with different doses (20, 40, 60 and 80 mg/kg body
weight) of E. ganitrusfruit extract (EGFE).
Antidepressant effect of EGFE was assessed by
forced swim test. EGFE (20 and 40mg/kg)
significantly decreased the immobility time and
increased climbing and swimming time significantly.
Duration of immobility of mice increased at high
dose (80mg/kg) as compared to vehicle. It is
concluded that while EGFE exhibited antidepressant
effect at low dose, at high dose it was sedative.
SCIENTIFIC GAPS IN RUDRAKSHA RESEARCH
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Tripathy et al. (2016-e) investigated antidepressant
activity of ethanolic extract of E. ganitrusat 250mg/kg
dose in mice. Antidepressant activity of ethanolic extract
of E. ganitruswas carried out using hole cross test, open
field test and thiopental induced sleeping time test in
swiss albino mice. The extract increased the locomotor
activity of mice in open field and hole cross test
significantly (p<0.05). The findings demonstrated that
the seed extract of E. ganitrushave significant
antidepressant activity.
Kakalij et al. (2017) evaluated ameliorative effect of E.
ganitruson gentamicin (GM)-induced nephrotoxicity in
rats. E. ganitrus(100, 200, and 400 mg/kg body weight)
was administered orally to male wistar rats. Results
revealed that co- administration of E.
ganitrussignificantly reduced elevated levels of serum
creatinine, BUN, uric acid and albuminuria,alongwith
considerable increase in the serum albumin and urine
creatinine. Furthermore, E. ganitrus noticeably increased
serum total protein and antioxidant enzyme levels with
significant alterationin phagocytic index and neutrophil
adhesion assay when compared with GM treated group
in a dose dependent manner. This study revealed that
ethanolic extract of E. ganitrus had immunomodulatory
and nephroprotective activity. Tripathy et al. (2016-c),
investigated hypoglycemicactivity of methanol and
water (ratio70:30) extract of E. ganitrus seeds in alloxan
induced diabetic rats. The extract of E.Ganitrus seed
significantly (P<0.05) reduced blood glucose level in
alloxan induced diabetic rats after twelve hours of
administration. Results supported traditional uses of
E.ganitrus seed for the management of diabetic sores.
Tripathy et al. (2016-c) alsoexamined antihyperglycemic
effect of methanolic seed extracts of E. ganitrusroxb.
instreptozotocin induced diabetes. The methanolic seed
extract exhibited potent antidiabetic activity comparable
to the standard drug glybenclamide.
Jain et al. (2017) screened anti-atherosclerotic ethanolic
crude (70%) extract of E.ganitrus seed in kidney of
cholesterol induced atherogenic rabbits. The ethanolic
extract, when administered at a dose level of 250 mg/kg
and 500 mg/kg (p.o) daily for 60 days to cholesterol-fed
rabbits, rectified the altered histology by restoring the
normal histology. Study concluded that the ethanolic
extract of E. ganitrus seed may serve as a potent agent
against cardiovascular diseases and resultant chronic
kidney disease.
Jain et al. (2016) also experimentedanti-atherosclerotic
activity of E. ganitrus extract at dose level of 250 and
500 mg/kg in New Zealand white male rabbits fed with
high cholesterol diet for 120 days. The study reported
significant corrections in (p≤0.01, ≤0.001) disturbed
lipid profile on the extract treatment in a dose-dependent
manner during the 60 days of the treatment period. A
significant reduction in lipid peroxidation and a
considerable increase in glutathione, catalase, and
superoxide dismutase levels (p≤0.01, ≤0.001) were
observed inthe post-treatment cholesterol-fed rabbits.
The histopathological modifications such as
accumulation of foam cells, atheromatous plaque
formation and lumen size reduction supported the
successful induction of atherosclerosis in rabbits.
TheE. ganitrus extract treated rabbits showed
significant lowering of cholesterol deposition and
increased lumen size when compared to cholesterol-
fed group.
Bagewadi et al. (2015) evaluated anti-parkinsonian
effect of E. ganitrus in rota rod and catalepsy bar
tests. Assessment of oxidative stress was done by
measuring the malondialdehyde (MDA) and reduced
glutathione (GSH) levels in the striatal region of the
brain. E. ganitrus (200 and 400 mg/kg, p.o.) showed
significant anti-oxidative effect by causing a
decrease in brain MDA levels (p<0.001) and a
significant increase in GSH levels (p<0.001) that
further plays a vital role in the pathophysiology of
PD. Overall this study conclusively shows
E.ganitrushas anti-oxidant and neuroprotective
activity in haloperidol experimental model of PD.
CLINICAL TRIALS
Tripathi et al. (2016) assessed the immunomodulatory
properties of E. ganitrus (Rudraksha). This
experiment was conducted on two groups of 15 male
candidates each. The Group-1 served as control
without wearing the Rudraksha and Group-2 people
were regularly wearing Rudraksha as necklace.
Specimen blood was collected by puncturing vein of
arm and morning first urine samples were collected
from group-1 and group-2 for biochemical analysis.
Results showed people, who were regularly wearing
Rudraksha beads, were healthy and their CBC and
urine tests show that their haemoglobin, RBC, DLC
and TLC are in excellent condition as compared to
the people who do not wear Rudraksha bead rosary.
Makhija et al. (2015) assessed the efficacy of an
ayurvedic formulation containing Rudraksha in the
management of mental retardation in 15 mentally
retarded children between age group of 8 months to
12 years. A combination of Vacha, Rudraksha,
Haridra andHinguwas administered twice daily for
90 days. Findings of the study revealed that
treatment was highly effective over behavioural
disorders, but very minimal response to treatment
was noticed over mental age and social age. Also
significant improvement was observed over
psychological, psychomotor and biological factors.
CONCLUSION
Considering the importance of Rudraksha beads as
given in our ancient Indian system of medicine
against multiple disorders, it is concluded that
scientific evidences regarding its pharmacological
properties generated through standard in vitro, in-
vivo, and clinical studies as well as its mechanism of
action are highly insufficient. There is a strong need
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to conduct in-depth research studies in order to prove its
efficacy as cost-effective, user friendly, easily
accessible, safe and holistic therapeutic approach to
ameliorate adverse effects of chronic diseases.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We acknowledge the help and guidance from
Mahamandeleshwar Swami Martandpuriji and also for
providing traditional knowledge about Rudraksha and
motivation to generate scientific evidences for Ayurvedic
system of Medicine.
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