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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 17  |  Page : 81-83  

Pharmaceutical scope of a phytochemically unexplored medicinal plant, Sarcochlamys pulcherrima (Roxb.) Gaud.: A review

1 Department of Chemistry, Assam University, Silchar, India
2 Defence Research Laboratory, Tezpur, Assam, India

Date of Submission22-Nov-2013
Date of Acceptance27-Mar-2014
Date of Web Publication05-May-2015

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Afjal Hussain Mazumder
Department of Chemistry, Assam University, Silchar - 788 011, Assam
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-7847.156358

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Sarcochlamys pulcherrima (Roxb.) Gaud. is widely used as traditional medicine and food by different tribes and communities of Assam in India and in neighboring countries. Recent studies conducted in our laboratory showed the broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of its crude extract and different solvent fractions and detected the presence of phenolics, flavonoids, saponin, and acidic compounds. This review gives a bird's eye view of the traditional uses of S. pulcherrima as food and medicine based on the information gathered by personal interaction with the people of different places of Assam as well as the investigations made on its ethno-botanical claims, biological activities, and other aspects by various workers since years till date and highlight the prospects of future research.

Keywords: Pharmaceutical scope, Sarcochlamys pulcherrima, traditional uses

How to cite this article:
Mazumder AH, Das J, Gogoi HK, Paul SB. Pharmaceutical scope of a phytochemically unexplored medicinal plant, Sarcochlamys pulcherrima (Roxb.) Gaud.: A review. Phcog Rev 2015;9:81-3

How to cite this URL:
Mazumder AH, Das J, Gogoi HK, Paul SB. Pharmaceutical scope of a phytochemically unexplored medicinal plant, Sarcochlamys pulcherrima (Roxb.) Gaud.: A review. Phcog Rev [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Jun 17];9:81-3. Available from: http://www.phcogrev.com/text.asp?2015/9/17/81/156358

   Introduction Top

Assam, a state of the northeastern part of India, has diverse ethnic groups and as many as 23 tribal communities, which constitute 12.82% of the total population of the state, [1] and hence, a diversity of knowledge exists, particularly on the use of different plants. About 80% of the population of Assam depends totally on plants for their daily life. [2] These tribes have their unique knowledge of medicinal plants in combating various diseases. From the information provided by ethnobotany, modern science can make a sure shot and lead to a pathway within its possibility to utilize the natural resources to its best for the mankind. In the past few decades, there have been intense pharmacological studies brought about by the recognition of the value of medicinal plants as potential sources of new compounds for therapeutic use. [3] Unfortunately, majority of these valuable plant resources of Assam (India) have not been extensively explored so far.

Sarcochlamys pulcherrima (Roxb.) Gaud. is being widely used in the traditional systems of medicine. It is a small evergreen tree found in the tropical rain forests and the open and damp secondary forests on the floodplains in Bhutan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sikkim, and Thailand. [4] The plant grows wild both in hilly regions and plains in the northeastern part of India. Many ethnic tribes and communities in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Nagaland of India, as well as in Bangladesh use this plant traditionally as food and medicines. [5],[6] This review focuses on the information gathered by personal interaction with the people of different places of Assam as well as the investigations made on its ethno-botanical claims, biological activities, and other aspects by various workers since years till date.

S. pulcherrima is commonly known as dogal tree (English). It is known by different vernacular names among different tribes and communities, such as Mechaki/Mesaki/Meshangi (Assamese), [5],[7],[8] Ombe (Mising), [9] Ambe (Mishing), Adumbra (Bodo), [7] Notke (Mishing), [10] Khajathshear (Khasi), [11] and Mechaki (Garo). [6] In Bandarban district of Bangladesh, the plant is known as Ma Cha Da (Marma tribe), Kan Leng (Murang tribe), Jung Gallya sak (Tanchangya tribe), [12] and Jangaillya shak (Chakma tribe, Hill tract district, Bangladesh). [13]

Taxonomic position of the plant is as follows: [14]

Family: Urticaceae

Genus: Sarcochlamys

Species: Pulcherrima - Gaudich

Binomial name: Sarcochlamys pulcherrima Gaud.

   Botanical description Top

It has pubescent branchlets, covered with soft hair; leaves alternate, narrowly lanceolate, toothed, caudate acuminate, membranous rugose, shining and rough above, white beneath, strongly three nerved; inflorescence spike; flowers dioecious; male in slender interrupted spikes and female in stouter spikes; fruit achene, enclosed in fleshy perianth. [15],[16] Flowering and fruiting occur in winter [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Different parts of Sarcochlamys pulcherrima

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   Common uses Top

The leaves of S. pulcherrima are widely consumed as a vegetable and medicines. Tender leaves of this plant are used as a vegetable by Khasi and Naga tribes of Machkhal, Binnakandi, Ramnagar, and other tribal pockets of Cachar District, Assam. On the first day of bohag bihu, the most important festival of Assam, the Assamese people collect 101 plant species to prepare a recipe, which includes S. pulcherrima also. They believe that this special recipe has some medicinal values that maintain them in good health for the next year. [5] Young shoots, leaves, and fruits are eaten as vegetable, especially by Mishing people; favored with pork. [7] The plant is used as a natural dye by the Assamese people. Leaves and stem bark when boiled in water produce a dark brown color and the resultant product is used to dye cotton and silk. [17] S. pulcherrima is also used as a substitute for ramie. [18] The bark of Albizia odoratissima is boiled together with the leaves of the S. pulcherrima and the yarn of the cloth to give the latter a brownish color. [19]

   Religious virtue Top

Mishing people, the second largest tribal community of Assam, consider S. pulcherrima as a sacred plant. S. pulcherrima is among the plants used as a vegetable in the preparation of Apong (a kind of rice beer) during Dobur Uie, and is found in a wild state and has been domesticated. The tribal people make a special food item from the tender leaves of the plant in any religious festival and offer it with Ajeng Dues. The local status of the plant is reported as rare. [9] The Mishing tribes in Majuli River Island of Assam cook the young shoot and fruits with pork as a custom and ritual practice. [10]

   Ethnomedicinal information Top

The medicinal utility of S. pulcherrima has a well-established track in various tribes. Chakma tribe living in the remote hill tract districts of Bangladesh uses the leaf paste of S. pulcherrima to treat boils and fever blisters. Fresh leaf extract is applied as eye drop to stop itching. [13] The leaves are used for treating diarrhea and dysentery; they are carminative and digestive. [9] Seeds are used to treat ulceration of tongue. [15] S. pulcherrima is commonly used by the Marma, Murang, and Tanchangya communities of Bandarban district of Bangladesh. They use the whole plants, leaves, and fruits for treating boils and cold and for lactation. [12] The Marma (Masada) tribe of Rangamati and Bandarban districts of Bangladesh uses the leaf paste in the treatment of boil and sore. [20]

Young shoots, leaves, and fruits are eaten as vegetable favored with pork, especially by Mishing people of Assam. [7] Garo tribe of Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in Meghalaya, India uses the tender shoots in preparing pork dishes. [6] The people of the Garo hills, Meghalaya consume the leaves and stem of this plant as a vegetable. [21] The Mishing people of Tinsukia district, Assam use the decoction of tender shoot for dysentery. It is believed that its consumption with pork facilitates the digestion of fats. [8],[10] It is also claimed that S. pulcherrima leaves damage the tapeworm eggs present in pork when boiled with it. [10],[14]

   Biological activity Top

Earlier, we reported the in vitro antioxidant activity of methanolic extracts from five plant species selected on the basis of ethnomedicinal information, among which S. pulcherrima (leaves) was found to be the best. [14] This indeed supports taking advantage of the antioxidant phytochemical to defend against the problems arising due to free radicals. In a subsequent study, we observed the potential activity of methanolic leaf extracts from S. pulcherrima in the inhibition of Candida albicans.[11]

   Phytochemical constituents Top

Phytochemical investigation conducted by us revealed the presence of phenolics, [14] flavonoids, saponin, and acidic compounds for the first time as far as our knowledge is concerned. Efforts for isolating and characterizing the active antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds present in this plant are being undertaken.

Since S. pulcherrima is widely used as food and traditional medicine, it is generally assumed to be safe. The above review provides information on its probable phytopharmacology, which may be useful for further studies on Ayurvedic drugs of folk medicinal practice of the present era. There is an urgent need is to explore this plant for its potential compounds of medicinal value and rescue the plant before it becomes extinct.

   References Top

Ali AN, Das I. Tribal situation in North East India. Stud Tribes Tribals 2003;1:141-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Singh VN, Chanu LI, Baruah MK. An ethnobotanical study of Chirus-a less known tribe of Assam. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2011;10:572-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wagate CG, Mbaria JM, Gakuya DW, Nanyingi MO, Kareru PG, Njuguna A, et al. Screening of some Kenyan medicinal plants for antibacterial activity. Phytother Res 2010;24:150-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sarcochlamys pulcherrima Gaudichaud-Beaupré, Voy. Bonite, Bot., Atlas. 89. 1844. Flora of China 5: 180. Available from: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2 and taxon_id=220011977) [Last accessed on 2014 May 02].  Back to cited text no. 4
Begum SS, Gogoi R. Herbal recipe prepared during Bohag or Rongali Bihu in Assam. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2007;6:417-22.  Back to cited text no. 5
Singh B, Sinha BK, Phukan SJ, Borthakur SK, Singh VN. Wild edible plants used by Garo tribes of Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in Meghalaya, India. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2012;11:166-71.  Back to cited text no. 6
Patiri B, Borah A. Wild Edible Plants of Assam. 1 st ed. Guwahati, Assam: Director Forest Communication, Forest Department; 2007. p. 132.  Back to cited text no. 7
Buragohain J. Ethnomedicinal plants used by the ethnic communities of Tinsukia district of Assam, India. Rec Res Sci Tech 2011;3:31-42.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sharma UK, Pegu S. Ethnobotany of religious and supernatural beliefs of the Mising tribes of Assam with special reference to the 'Dobur Uie'. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2011;7:16.  Back to cited text no. 9
Gam NK, Nath PC. Conservation of plant diversity through traditional beliefs and religious practices of rural Mishing tribes in Majuli River Island, Assam, India. Indian J Fund Appl Life Sci 2012;2:62-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Mazumder AH, Das J, Gogoi HK, Chattopadhyay P, Singh L, Paul SB. In vitro activity of some medicinal plants from Cachar district, Assam (India) against Candida albicans. Phcog J 2012;4:35-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
Mohiuddin M, Alam MK, Basak SR, Hossain MK. Ethno-medico botanical study among the four indigenous communities of Bandarban, Bangladesh. Bangladesh J Plant Taxon 2012;19:45-53.  Back to cited text no. 12
Rahman MA, Uddin SB, Wilcock CC. Medicinal plants used by Chakma tribe in hill tracts districts of Bangladesh. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2007;6:508-17.  Back to cited text no. 13
Paul SB, Mazumder AH, Gogoi HK, Gogoi BJ, Chaurasia AK, Singh L, et al. Evaluation of in vitro antioxidant activity of some plants of Cachar district, Assam. Phcog J 2010;2:289-92.  Back to cited text no. 14
A Database on Medicinal Plants of Assam. Available from: http://www.assamplants.com/All%20Species. [Last accessed on 2012 Nov 10].  Back to cited text no. 15
National Biodiversity Centre. Species Record Details: Sarcochlamys Pulcherrima (National Biodiversity Centre-National Biodiversity Centre Plinian Core Resource) Sarcochlamys Pulcherrima. 2011.  Back to cited text no. 16
Kar A, Borthakur SK. Dye yielding plants of Assam for dyeing handloom textile products. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2008;7:166-71.  Back to cited text no. 17
Pandey A, Gupta R. Fibre yielding plants of India Genetic resources, perspective for collection and utilisation. Nat Prod Rad 2003;2:194-204.  Back to cited text no. 18
Taylor WA. Inventory of Seeds and Plants Imported. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bureau of Plant Industry. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1917. p. 55.  Back to cited text no. 19
Yusuf M, Wahab MA, Yousuf M, Chowdhury JU, Begum J. Some tribal medicinal plants of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Bangladesh J Plant Taxon 2007;14:117-28.  Back to cited text no. 20
Sawian JT, Jeeva S, Lyndem FG, Mishra BP, Laloo RC. Wild edible plants of Meghalaya, North-east India. Nat Prod Rad 2007;6:410-26.  Back to cited text no. 21


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