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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 321-326

Rishyagandha: A Powerful Herb to Reverse Prameha

Department of Home Science (Foods and Nutrition), IIS deemed to be a University, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Date of Submission28-Nov-2020
Date of Decision28-Dec-2020
Date of Acceptance31-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication17-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Swati Vyas
Department of Home Science (Foods and Nutrition), IIS deemed to be a University, SFS, GurukulMarg, Mansarovar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/joa.joa_328_20

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Objective: India is well recognized for its traditional medicine system based on the medicinal plants with long therapeutic history. Rishyagandha (Withaniacoagulans) is one such plant traditionally used for curing various aliments particularly diabetes. Diabetes is silent killer affecting quality of life, characterized by life-long medication associated with the number of side effects. Thus, traditional healing medicinal system such as Ayurveda is often recommended. Data Source: Ayurvedic texts referred include Charaka samhita, Nighantu, Chikitsa Grantha, and Astanghridaya. Different published review articles in journals, evidence-based online published articles, and various websites were explored. Review Methods: Literary reviews, including qualitative, experimental, and observational researches highlighting the therapeutic, pharmacological benefits of Rishyagandha were analyzed. Conclusion: Rishyagandha (Withaniacoagulans), also known as Indian cheese maker, is a rich source of coagulan, withacoagin, withasomidienone, and withaferin. It has shown to exert antibacterial, wound healing, cytotoxic, free radical scavenging, hypoglycemic, antitumor, and hypolipidemic effects. Hence, the present review article aims to project botanical, morphological description, traditional uses, and pharmacological studies of Rishyagandha. The pharmacological action of the plant is well established due to the presence of different phytochemicals. The extensive review advocates that the fruits may be prescribed as accompaniment in the drug treatment and dietary therapy for the management of diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: Ayurveda, diabetes mellitus, madhumeha, Prameha, Rishyagandha, Withania coagulans, withanolides

How to cite this article:
Raidani A, Vyas S. Rishyagandha: A Powerful Herb to Reverse Prameha. J Ayurveda 2022;16:321-6

How to cite this URL:
Raidani A, Vyas S. Rishyagandha: A Powerful Herb to Reverse Prameha. J Ayurveda [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 6];16:321-6. Available from: http://www.journayu.in/text.asp?2022/16/4/321/364051

  Introduction Top

Medicinal plants have a well-established role in the formulation of various therapeutic resources. Natural products have lead the way to discover the number of drugs through their pharmacological screening.[1] Nowadays, traditional health-care system, namely Homeopathy, Ayurveda, and Unani are solving health-care problems with the help of medicinal plants. The active principles majorly found in the medicinal plants include glycosides, alkaloids, carbohydrates, tannins, and lipids. These active principles are chemically manufactured for the production of the synthetic drugs.[2] Plant-based medicines are being used in treating various ailments worldwide. This knowledge of plants usage as medicine was acquired by the local peoples from the hit and trial method, and this knowledge travel from the generation to generation. Traditional medicinal plants are considered more human and environment friendly due to less adverse effects over the synthetic drugs and have a great importance at present.[3]

Traditional approaches mainly based on Ayurvedic formulations have been widely accepted all round the world, and this traditional medicine system now outshine the allopathic products available in the market. However, the Allopathy medicinal system results into the dependency of patients on medication life long.[4] India is widely famous for the traditional approaches in the medicinal system which includes Ayurveda and Unani.[5] According to Mukherjee, the beginning of Ayurveda dates back to the ancient period during the era of Rigveda and Atharva Veda. However, the source of ancient relic is presently not available, but its methods and ideas have been the basis of treatment between 2500 and 500 BCE in India.[6] The another term used for Ayurveda is “Science of longevity” because it helps to revitalize the body through diet and offers an extended healthy life. Ayurveda ensures harmonious life by treating the common diseases and food allergies.[5]

In Ayurveda, the key source of the medicine is plants which help in better treatment, diseases prevention followed by the maintenance of a healthy life. Herbalists and traditional practitioners solicit traditional medicines mainly to ensure relief from the various types of communicable or infectious disease.[7] The conventional medicine system which presently dominates the market and is characterized by life-long medication, number of side effects with certain withdrawal symptoms experienced by patients on discontinuation of these medicines. Therefore, patients land up into problematic situations which motivating them to adopt the Ayurvedic treatment which further enhances their quality of life. The Ayurvedic system of medicine is based on the three principles called doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), these are identified as the main controlling factors of certain physiological functions in human beings. The knowledge of this system helps in normalizing the various functions by altering the body system by adopting the techniques based on diet, physical activity herbal reparation Panchakarma, and Shalyachikista. Body healing process revolves around food habits; hence, there close association with Ayurveda is widely accepted. Metabolic diseases such as Madhumeha are directly influenced by the dietary factors because they might cause disease or worsen the existing diseases. Besides dietary factor, the second major influence on patient's doshas is the species. Ninety percent of plant-based medicines used in the Ayurvedic preparations helps in stabilizing the doshas in comparison to these food and spices.[4]

“World Health Organization has defined medicinal plants as plants that are rich properties or compounds which can be used for therapeutic purposes and synthesize metabolites to produce useful drugs.”[7] In Ayurveda Prameha is recognized as a disease entity and among several health problems; it is taken into account as one of the arch enemy of the mankind. It includes the number of diseases with various physical and chemical changes in urine. Copious and frequent urine with turbidity is the major manifestation of the disease which is also known as “Prabhutavilmutrata.” Prameha switches to Madhumeha in due course of time, if not treated properly which is very similar to diabetes mellitus, the most debilitating disease.[8] Madhumeha is caused by the insufficiency of insulin that leads to an increase in the plasma glucose concentration.[9] Madhumeha is associated with various acute and long-term complications which have further proved to result into various major health hazards globally. The Ancient Indian text has also manifested its presence even before 2500 BC.[10]

Diverse etiologies usually result in the state of chronic hyperglycemia which is often associated with dyslipidemia. Cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality in diabetic patients is majorly due to dyslipidemia,[11] and hence, require lipid-lowering agents in addition to their antidiabetic medications.[12] The hazardous effects of many oral hypoglycemic agents and insulin which have great importance in the modern medical science prove to be fatal many times and lead to incurable effects after long-term use; hence, an ideal therapy is still obscure. The Ayurvedic management of Madhumeha not only helps to achieve euglycemic state but also aims to treat the root cause of disease. Nighantus (Dictionary/Literatures) has mentioned the variety of medicinal plants which have Pramehahara (Anti-Diabetic) property. In the present work, Upadhyay and Gupta in 2011 established the role of the drug prepared from Rishyagandha fruit powder and supplement to 53 diabetic patients selected from the outpatient department and inpatient department of the Department of Kaya Chikitsa, S. S. Hospital, B. H. U. The patients were supplemented 10 g dose daily divided in two parts 5 g each. The results showed effectiveness of the drug in the management of Madhumeha.[8] The presence of valuable pharmaceutical and nutraceutical properties in genus Withania (Family: Solanaceae) makes it a treasure in the medicinal system based on Ayurveda.[13] It is mentioned in Charakasamhita in Bruhaniya Mahakashaya[14] and Madhurskandhadravya.[15] The property of coagulating milk present in plant has been used for preparing a vegetable rennet ferment for making cheese all over India.[8]

Aim and objectives

To present detailed review of researches based on Withania coagulans related to its therapeutic potential and pharmacological properties.

To study and compile researches associated with ayurvedic benefits of whole plant, its alkaloid extracts and isolated with anolides.

  Materials and Methods Top

In the present review, the different characteristics of Rishyagandha and the result of its isolated with anolides were studied. Various effects of Rishyagandhaon Type II diabetes mellitus with in-depth action were studied in detail. Chakra samhita, Nighantu, Chikitsa Grantha, and Astanghridaya are some Ayurvedic texts which were studied. A total of 26 high quality data sources retrieved from the various sites published between 1998 and 2020 were analyzed.

  Result and Analysis Top

Botanical description

Withania coagulans have various synonyms such as Punerria coagulans stocks, commonly known as Indian rennet, Indian cheese maker, vegetable rennet in English, Paneerkephool, panir band, punirdodi in Hindi, and Ninggushviqie in Chinese.

Taxonomical classification

“Kingdom: Plants”

“Subkingdom: Tracheobionta”

“Super Division: Spermatophyta”

“Division: Angiosperma”

“Class: Dicotyledons”

“Order: Tubiflorae”

“Family: Solanaceae”

“Genus: Withania”

“Species: coagulans.”[16]

Morphological description

According to a literature survey, Rishyagandha is recommended for the treatment of various diseases in the traditional Indian medicine system. The plant consists of erect grayish shrub which is 60–120 cm high. Lanceolate leaves with dioecious flowers are present in axillary cluster with 6 mm long calyx and 8 mm long corolla with lobes of gray color. Male flowers have stamen levelled up till the corolla tube with 2 mm long glabrous filament. The size of anther is 3.4 mm. Ovoid ovary with mushroom-shaped stigma and glabrous style are present reaching hallway up to corolla tube. The plant has smooth berries with diameter of 6.8 mm and seeds which are 2.5 mm round. Intake of Rishyagandha results in reducing as well as maintaining blood sugar levels, serum lipid peroxide, and serum cholesterol. Nowadays, flowers and fruits are widely used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus as a traditional medicine.[17]


Major distribution of Rishyagandha is extended to South Asia and in the east of Mediterranean.[18] The plant is commonly found in the drier parts of India such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, and certain common indigenous names are “Khamjira” in Punjabi, “Tukhme-kaknaje-hidi” in Persian, in Hindi “Akri” or “Puni-ke-bij,” “Spiubajja” in Afghan and “Punir band” in Sindhi.

Traditional uses

Fruits of Rishyagandha are considered as “magic healer”[19] and are reported to have diuretic, sedative, and emetic properties. In accordance to the traditional medicine, the fruits are helpful in curing chronic liver disorder, flatulent coli, intestinal infections, biliousness, dyspepsia, and asthma. Berries are used as blood purifier in Indo-Pak sub-continent. Traditional practitioners in North-western India use dry fruits of the species for the treatment of diabetes. Rishyagandha, a highly valued ethno-medicinal plant is even used for the maintenance of oral hygiene as chewing its twigs facilitates in cleaning teeth also provides relief in toothache.[20]

Clinical studies

Several animal-based experiments have further manifested similar observations as significant improvement was seen in rats which were induced by streptozotocin as hypoglycemic activity was initiated by Rishyagandha followed by attainment of euglycemia in diabetes mellitus. Coagulanolide is a withanolide extracted from Rishyagandha fruits that showed antihyperglycemic activity in rats. A 4-week treatment with Rishyagandha had shown improved conditions and reversed hyperglycemia in the rat.[8] Improvement in signs and symptoms was observed due alkaloids and steroids isolated from plant sources and euglycemia was attained. Coagulin L extracted from Rishyagandha fruits has shown antihyperglycemic activity in rats.[21]

Shukla et al. in 2012 reported that there was a significant increase in the levels of Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) and Post Prandial Plasma Glucose (PPPG) in the diabetic animals and on treating them with aqueous Rishyagandha, there was noticeable decreases in these parameters after the span of 30 days. The findings were similar to that reported after glibenclamide treatment as it was used as a standard drug. It facilitated in hindering the activity of ATP-sensitive K + channels of the b-cells, Glibenclamide helps in increase section of insulin which leads to the stimulation of Ca2+-dependent exocytosis of increased serum insulin levels in diabetic rats were noticed after the treatment with aqueous Rishyagandha. Thereby, proving the role of this herb in the management of diabetes improvement in glycemic status was observed by the reduced levels of PPPG, FPG, and HbA1c in reports. Alterations in certain enzymes and enzyme systems such as G-6-Pase, Gluco Kinase, and Phospho Fructo Kinase 1 which are involved in carbohydrate metabolism results into certain secondary complications in the patients suffering with Madhumeha. Insulin in the body helps to increases hepatic glycolysis by increasing the activities of GK and PFK and suppressing the biosynthesis of gluconeogenic enzymes. Hence, the treatment of diabetic animals with aqueous Rishyagandha resulted in increased activities of GK and PFK, whereas the activity of G-6-Pase was decreased in the liver.

The primary intracellular storage form of glucose in the body is glycogen. Glycogen deposition in the liver and muscle is promoted by insulin followed by stimulating glycogen synthase and inhibiting glycogen phosphorylase. A decrease in glycogen in the liver and muscles of diabetic animals was observed which could be due to decreased glycogen synthesis or increased glycogenolysis. However, after aqueous Rishyagandha treatment, diabetic animals showed significant restoration of glycogen content in liver and muscles. This can be another probable mechanism of antidiabetic action. Several studies state that plant-derived triterpenoids, flavonoids, and glycosides have been reported to possess antidiabetic properties which stimulate insulin or modulates enzymes used in carbohydrate metabolism. Phytochemical screening of aqueous W. coagulans showed the presence of bioactive constituents (glycosides, steroidal compounds, tannins, phenols, glycosides, triterpenoids, saponins, alkaloids, etc.). According to other predictable mechanisms alkaloids, phenols and phenolic acids extracted from the plant reported to lower blood glucose level by decreasing the expression of gluconeogenic enzymes and mRNA of hepatic PFK and GK expression was decreased in the liver. Flavonoids help in glucose uptake in peripheral tissues and regulate the activity by limiting the rate of enzymes used in carbohydrate metabolism. In this study, the treatment of diabetic animals with aqueous Rishyagandha showed favorable changes in the glucose metabolizing enzymes activity and improvement in glycemic status.[22]

According to Datta et al., Rishyagandha extract in combination with glipizide reflected higher potential of lowering glucose in comparison to any other drug formulation. Rishyagandha extract has shown to have positive influence on histology of pancreatic beta cells and this was almost similar to glipizide-induced changes, thereby facilitating in increasing glucose utilization in the peripheral tissues hence demonstrating the blood glucose lowering capacity. Its extract also facilitated in the treatment as well as improvement of lipid profile in high-fat diet-induced hyperlipidemic rats. Rishyagandha extract has demonstrated antihyperlipidemic and antiatherosclerotic action in rats induced by streptozotocin, and this was contributed to its interference in synthesis, metabolism as well as facilitation in the excretion of lipids.[12]

Pharmacological studies

Lalsare and Chutervedi highlighted in their research that extracts obtained from the fruits of Rishyagandha have anti-hyperlipidemic activity. Furthermore, the blood glucose level was reportedly reduced with the intake of aqueous and chloroform extracts of these fruits. Rishyagandha is well-known for being the rich source of magnesium and calcium which further help in reducing blood glucose level as well as improving glucose tolerance test, and this factor thereby confirms its important role in the diabetes management.[23]

According to Vishnoi et al., Rishyagandha possesses some pharmacological properties which facilitate in remarkable reduction in the level of glucose circulating in blood along with total cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein (LDL), LDL, triglyceride although it helps in raising the high-density lipoprotein levels as demonstrated in type 2 diabetic rat. A dose of 1 g/kg body weight was suggested to be a most effective dose of the plant extract to reduce fasting blood glucose level maximum by 33.2% at 4 h in normal rats. On the other hand, glucose tolerance test studies of sub-normal and mild diabetic rats showed the maximum reduction of 15.7, 28.9, and 37.8% at 3 h, respectively, confirming hypoglycemic and antidiabetic activities of aqueous extract of Rishyagandha.[24]

According to previous researches, the alkaloid extracts of Rishyagandha facilitate in the regeneration and protection of β-cells, thereby limiting the glucose load and also influence the action of endogenous insulin. This plant extract ease the release of insulin from β-cells and it even stimulates the insulin receptors hence ensuring the absorption of blood sugar and also the stimulation of peripheral glucose consumption.[9] In “Brihaniya Mahakashaya” (a collection of drugs, which increases body mass) and “Madhur Skandha Dravya,” Rishyagandha plant is described in Charaka Samhita. The two types of therapies for Prameha have been described by Charaka-Sambrihana (process which increases body mass), for krisha and dourbala pramehi and Samshodhana (a type of therapy which terminates impurities from the body) for sthula and balvanpramehi. Rishyagandha improves the quality of dhatu production, promotes the Oja formation, and cures the Prameha by its brimhana property.[8]

  Discussion Top

India is estimated to have the second highest number related to diabetes in the world and considering its prevalence and impact on quality of life its management is important. Rishyagandha has many properties due to the presence of whitanloids which help them to treat many diseases and being very effective particularly in the treatment of Madhumeha. The different parts of this plant like its flowers, berries, leaves, and roots are rich in several bioactive components and numerous phytochemicals including with anolides, alkaloids, essential oil, fatty oil, as well as amino acids. In researches, it has been proved that the plant have certain steroidal lactones having remarkable pharmacological and medicinal effects such as hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycemic and free radical scavenging, hypolipidemic, anti-microbial, CV, cytotoxic activities. Studies showed that the fruits of Rishyagandha help to increase the number of beta cells which produce insulin and control blood glucose level. Rishyagandha exhibited hypoglycemic activity and an effective and safe alternative to Madhumeha because alkaloids and steroids isolated from this plant source are responsible for hypoglcemic activity. Significant improvement was observed in the signs and symptoms associated with diabetes mellitus Type 2 and euglycemia as reported by Lopez-Ridaura et al.[25] and Jaiswal et al.[26]

Rishyagandha extracts reportedly have good antidiabetic activity as they help in the renewal of beta cells as observed in research done by Yasir et al. in 2012. In their research, the damage of the pancreas in alloxan-treated diabetic control rats and regeneration of beta cells by Rishyagandha extract were observed.[9] Hence, the drug can be a good dietary medication which can help in the control of blood glucose level.

  Conclusion Top

It can be concluded by the above-mentioned extensive research that further researches can be planned based on this plant to elucidate its effect on various diseases as well as its mechanism of action in their treatment and management. Hence, for future, it can be considered as a promising Ayurvedic supplement for the treatment of not only diabetes but for various other aliments too.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Salwaan C, Singh A, Mittal A, Singh P. Investigation of The Pharmacognostical , Phytochemical and Antioxidant Studies of Plant Withania Coagulans Dunal. J Pharmacogn Phytochem 2012;1:32-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Azhar MF, Naseer U, Aziz A, Zafar S, Qadir I, Farooq M, et al. Antioxidant and phytochemical composition of leaves, stem and root extracts of Withania coagulans and Withania somnifera. Jour of Med & Spice Plants. 2020;24:27 30.  Back to cited text no. 3
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Yasir M, Shrivastava R, Jain P, Das D. A clinical study on the effect of Rishyagandha (Withania coagulans) in the management of Prameha (Type II diabetes mellitus). Phcog Commun 2012;2:61-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
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