Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum: Neglected Wild Plants of Immense Medicinal Importance | TechGape

Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum: Neglected Wild Plants of Immense Medicinal Importance

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How ironical it is that at the cost of Allopath we are losing our traditional system of disease treatment based on Ayurveda, which had ...

How ironical it is that at the cost of Allopath we are losing our traditional system of disease treatment based on Ayurveda, which had originated in India. Consequently, Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum like valuable wild medicinal plants have lost their importance in India.
Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum
Neglected Wild Plants of Immense Medicinal Importance 

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

 What are Medicinal Plants?
Those plants which fulfil the medicinal requirements of human beings are known as medicinal plants. Medicinal plants are also known as drug plants. There are several thousand drug yielding plants all other the world. Most of the plants are known and utilized by herb doctors and Ayurvedic vaids. Only a few drug plants are cultivated. Most of the supply of drugs is obtained from wild plants growing in tropical regions of the world.

Solanum nigrum
Medicinal Floristic Wealth of India:
India is a mega-diversity country having large variety of flora and fauna. India has about more than 45,000 plant species, which constitute approximately 8% of the world flora. Of the total plant species reported in India about 15,000 are represented by flowering plants (Angiosperms).

India is endowed with a rich wealth of medicinal plants distributed from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Some of these include Aconitum heterophyllum (Atis), Acorus calamus (Buch), Atropa belladonna (Sag angur), Adathoda vasica (Adusa), Asparagus racemosus (Satawar), Andrographis paniculata (Kalmegh), Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi), Boerhavia diffusa (Punarnava), Centella asiatica (Mandukparni), Convolvulus pluricaulis (Sankhpushpi), Hemidesmus indicus (Anantmul), Rauvolfia serpentina (Sarpagandha), Strychnos nux-vomica (Kuchla), Tinospora cordifolia (Gurich), Tribulus terrestris(Gokhru), Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) etc.

Several of these plant species have made substantial contribution to the development of medical treatise Materia Medica. One of the ancient medical treatises on Indian medicine Charaka Samhita, records the use of over 340 drugs of plant origin. The Sushruta Samhita, Sharangadhar Samhita and Vagbhata Samhita are the other important ancient medical treatises, which describes about the medicinal plants and their uses in the treatment of diseases. These three Samhitas forms the basis of Ayurveda.

Why Ayurveda has been overshadowed by Allopath?
During the freedom struggle strong nationalistic views led to rejection of Allopath (treatment based on the use of chemical drugs). Thus almost as a symbol of defiance the common Indian men depended on Ayurveda. However, after freedom, the India adopted the allopathic system of medicine for national use leading to proliferation of medical colleges. Consequently Ayurveda has been overshadowed by the Allopath.

Therefore, prior to the advent of Allopath, all the diseases were treated using the whole plant or their parts by Ayurvedic vaids. Even today the tribal communities inhabiting in remote areas i.e. forests and hills, fulfils all their medicinal needs from plants found in their surroundings. For instance, the Kani tribe of Kerala uses the plant Trichopus zeylanicus for fatigue reduction and to cure the anti-inflammatory effects.

After independence, the rapid economic progress has led to the prevalence of Allopath in India as a result of which several wild medicinal plants have lost their importance, which were used in the treatment of simple to serious diseases. Hence due to absolute dependence on Allopath, the newer generations have gradually lost their interest in these medicinal plants growing in the surroundings.

Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum are the ideal examples of such important medicinal plant species which today are being considered not more than weeds or nuisance plants in India. However, in the past these plant species were used on large scale for medicinal purposes. Today these two wild plant species are rarely used for medicinal purposes by the main stream population of India.

Characteristics of Solanum nigrum:
Solanum nigrum (Black nightshade) is an erect annual herbaceous plant species attaining a height up to 50 cm. It belongs to the Solanaceae family of the flowering plants. It is vernacularly known as Makoy in Northern India. This plant species is distributed throughout the country. It generally appears as weed in crop fields of Rabi season. It also grows on fallow lands, wastelands and in woodlands. The plant is sensitive to water logging. The flowers are white in colour. The fruit is a green berry, which turns black after ripening. The plant reproduces through seeds.

Medicinal importance of Solanum nigrum:
Medicinal attributes are found in the entire plant. The plant is diuretic, sedative, alterative, anodyne, hydragogue and expectorant. In Ayurvedic system of disease treatment the plant is used as a potent cardiac toner. The decoction of the plant is useful in the treatment of jaundice and dropsy. The syrup (prepared by mixing of plant extract in boiled sugar solution) of the plant is useful as an expectorant.

The juice of leaves is given in gonorrhoea, piles and also in inflammation of the kidneys and gall bladder. Berries (fruits) of the plant are useful in treatment of diarrhoea and heart disorders. Since the berries are rich source of Vitamin C, hence can be consumed to boost the immune system of the body. Recent researches in United States have revealed that regular consumption of berries can avoid the chances of colon cancer.

Characteristics of Solanum xanthocarpum:
Solanum xanthocarpum
Solanum xanthocarpum
Solanum xanthocarpum (Indian solanum) is a prickly perennial herb growing somewhat prostrate on the soil surface. It belongs to Solanaceae family of the flowering plants. It is vernacularly known as Bhatkatiya and Kateli in Northern India. The plant is distributed throughout the country. It is generally found growing on waste grounds, fallow lands, roadsides and sometimes in agricultural fields and in grasslands as well. The plant produces bluish-purple flowers. The fruit is berry type, which turns yellows after ripening. The plant reproduces through seeds.

Medicinal importance of Solanum xanthocarpum: Medicinal properties are founds in the entire plant. The plant is expectorant, stomachic, astringent, diuretic, alterative and anthelmintic. In Ayurvedic system of disease treatment the decoction of the plant is used against asthma, bronchitis, fevers, cough, flatulence, dropsy, gonorrhoea and during pain in chest and heart disease. The juice of the fruit is useful in mouth ulcers.

Conclusion:
Conclusively it can be said that spread and popularity of Allopath has adversely affected our traditional system of disease treatment based on Ayurveda which is cheap, effective without any side effects. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to popularize the medicinal importance and uses of Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum like important medicinal plants in India. This would not only help in the revival of the traditional system of disease treatment but would also be helpful in conservation of these medicinal plant species.
-X-X-X-X-X-
Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozens of published research papers in the journals of national and international repute. His main area of research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University Main Campus, Varanasi (India). Furthermore, he is also an active science writer having more than 10 dozens of published science articles in different periodicals of national repute. His email address is:
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TechGape: Solanum nigrum and Solanum xanthocarpum: Neglected Wild Plants of Immense Medicinal Importance
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