Anantamul (Hemidesmus indicus) means ‘the eternal root’. Anantamul is a traditional herb belonging to the family Apocynaceae. It is used all around the Indian subcontinent because of the biological activities attributed to its different parts.  

In English, it is known as Indian sarsaparilla. It is called Anantamul in Hindi, Ushba Hindi in Urdu, Ushbahindi in Persian and Sariva in Sanskrit. It is a traditional folk medicine used as an ingredient in Ayurvedic and Unani preparations. The roots and rhizomes of Anantamul have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. All the parts of Anantamul have been used as crude drugs, but the root extract is used due to its wide range of biological, medicinal and phytopharmaceutical characteristics.

Nutritional Value of Anantamul 

All the parts of Anantamul contain different phytochemicals (plant chemicals). These phytochemicals are listed below. 

Plant part  Phytochemical  
Root  Fatty acids, tannins, saponins, sterols, β-sitosterol and stigmasterol 
Stem  Glycosides, emdine and hemidescine 
Leaves  Hyperoside, rutin, tanins, saponins, hemidesmine and hemidesminine 
Flowers  Hyperoside, rutin and isoquercitin 
Table 1: Chemical components of Anantamul

Therapeutic Uses of Anantamul 

The therapeutic uses of Anantamul are as follows: 

  • Traditional uses of Anantamul include treating digestive problems, diarrhoea, blood disorders, cough, fever, anorexia, asthma, itching and skin diseases like leprosy.  
  • In Ayurveda, the plant is used in the treatment of bone loss, stress, topical wound, low body weight, fever, and psoriasis.  
  • The pharmacological uses of Anantamul are  
  • Hepatoprotective  
  • Antidiabetic 
  • Cardioprotective  
  • Antioxidant  
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Antimicrobial 
  • Anti-ulcerogenic 
  • Neuroprotective  
  • Nephroprotective
  • Diuretic  
  • Anti-arthritic  
  • Antidiarroheal  
  • Antihyperlipidemic  
  • Antivenom

Benefits of Anantamul  

Various preclinical and animal trials have shown potential health benefits of Anantamul extracts, mainly the root extracts. 

Benefits of Anantamul as an antibacterial agent 

  • The root extract of Anantamul has antibacterial activity against the bacteria Escherichia coli.
  • The extract has the potential to be used in clinics to treat infections.

Benefits of Anantamul as a cardioprotective agent  

  • Anantamul root extract could show cardioprotective (anti-arrhythmic) activity as per an animal study.
  • Flavonoids, tannins and saponins found in the root are likely to cause this cardioprotective activity.
  • Further studies are needed to explore the in vivo activity of the plant.
  • Anantamul root extract could also decrease serum cholesterol levels.

Benefits of Anantamul as a hepatoprotective agent 

  • From an animal trial, it was found that root extract of Anantamul may show hepatoprotective benefits.
  • The free radical scavenging property of Anantamul protects the liver from free radical-mediated oxidative stress.
  • Anantamul may also show promising results as a hepatoprotective in people who consume alcohol.

Benefits of Anantamul in managing blood glucose 

Oral administration of the root extract of Anantamul is beneficial in controlling the blood sugar level and restoring the glucose metabolizing enzyme. 

Anticancer benefits  

  • Anantamul has shown anticancer effects in human cell lines.
  • The cancer-preventive effects are linked to the root’s chemical constituents, namely flavonoids, coumarins, tannins, phenols, terpenoids, and saponins.

Benefits of Anantamul in wound healing  

  • The root extract of Anantamul promotes wound healing by increasing cellular proliferation and promoting the formation of tissues.
  • The anti-inflammatory and free radicle scavenging properties of Anantamul aid in wound healing activity.

Benefits of Anantamul in skin diseases 

  • According to animal studies, Anantamul may have wound healing and anti-leprotic activity.
  • The affinity of Anantamul for blood (raktdhatu) may clear acne and inflammation on the skin.
  • A polyherbal ayurvedic formulation containing Anantamul as its main ingredient has been used for treating skin diseases.

How to Use Anantamul? 

Anantamul can be used in the following ways: 

Oral use  

The dried root is used in medicinal preparations. The dried roots can be made into a decoction and taken as tea.

Topical use  

It can be used externally as a paste or a cream. It can also be combined with manjishtha, neem, guduchi, kola, sandalwood, gotu and liquorice for treating skin inflammation. 

Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe you the form and dosage as per your health condition. 

Side Effects of Anantamul 

Excessive use of Anantamul is associated with intestinal discomfort. It is not recommended for long-term use. There is not much data regarding the safety and efficacy of Anantamul in human beings.  

Precautions to Take With Anantamul 

Anantamul is not fully evaluated for efficacy and safety in human beings. No data is available regarding its safety in pregnant and lactating women. Hence, use its products only after consulting a registered medical practitioner.  

Frequently Asked Questions  

1) Is Anantamul a medicine?  

The roots and rhizomes of Anantamul have been used in ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years.

2) What are the benefits of Anantamul? 

Anantamul is beneficial in heart conditions, liver damage, skin and wound healing. It also has anticancer, antibacterial and anti-diabetic benefits.

3) Which part of Anantamul has medicinal properties? 

Roots and rhizomes of Anantamul have been used in medicinal preparations. Every part of Anantamul has been used as a crude drug, but the root extract is used for a wide range of biological, therapeutic and phytopharmaceutical activities.  

4) Is Anantamul root safe to consume? 

Various medicinal preparations of Anantamul are available, so it’s safe to consume. The dried roots can be made into a decoction and taken as a tea.

5) Are Anantamul products safe to be consumed during pregnancy and lactation? 

Due to the lack of data in the literature related to its safety and efficacy, it is not recommended in pregnant or lactating women. 

6) What are the uses of Anantamul?  

Anantamul is used for treating digestive problems, diarrhoea, asthma, blood disorders, fever, cough, anorexia, itching and skin diseases like leprosy.

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