Aristolochia indica Medicinal uses and pharmacology


Aristolochia indica




Aristolochia indica is a herb useful for the treatment of localized swelling, cases of poisoning by inducing vomiting, skin diseases, cough and painful periods.  

Latin name- Aristolochia indica Linn.
Family- Aristolochiaceae


Aristolochia indica




Morphology of Aristlochia indica:
Aristolochia indica is a glabrous, shrubby or herbaceous perennial plant with woody root stock and long, slender, grooved, glabrous branches. It is found mostly in the Himalayan belt near Nepal, South India and Bengal up to an altitude of 3000 feet. The stem part of the climber is woody and thin. The leaves are 2-4 inch in length and 1-2 inch wide, variable, fiddle shaped to linear. It is glabrous with a slightly undulate margin. The flowers are 1-1.5 inch in length, found in small clusters and they appear like hood of the cobra. They are purple colour inside and pale green in the outer rim. They bloom in the rainy season. The fruits are round and are found in the month of November to March. The seeds are triangular and flat. The roots of the plant are long and cylindrical with little bends.  The outer side is brownish with white colour inside. They are bitter in taste and have camphor like odour.


Part used- Root, Leaf
Root powder- 1 to 3 g

Leaf juice- 5 to 10 ml

Chemical composition:
Aristolochia sp. contains aristolochic acids and aristolactams. The plant Ishwari, especially roots, contains Aristochine, Aristolochene, Ishwaronw, Aristolochine acid, Ishwarane, Cephaeradiones and Aritistolindiquinone.




Uses of Aristolochia indica

  • The powdered root of Ishwari is given with honey in a dose of 3 g fordropsy, leukoderma, tonsillitis and chronic dyspepsia.
  • One pinch of root powder of Aristolochia indica is taken with warm water to treat fever, indigestion, and digestive disorders.
  • The paste prepared from the leaf of the plant is applied over the joints affected with pain and swelling.
  • The paste of the fresh leaf is applied over the forehead with turmeric powder to reduce headache.
  • The powder of the seed of Ishwari is mixed with warm water and applied over joints to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • For leucoderma, skin diseases, wounds and swelling the paste of leaves is applied topically on affected areas.
  • In patients suffering from cough, the juice of the leaf of Aristolochia indica is given in a dose of 5-6 ml to induce vomiting and remove the excessive kapha dosha.
  • Cold infusion from the root of the plant is given in a dose of 40-50 ml to treat dysmenorrhea and difficulty in labor.
  • Decoction of the root of Aristolochia indica is given in a dose of 30 ml to treat retention of urine.
  • The fresh juice of the leaf is administered in a dose of 5-10 ml to induce vomiting in cases of poisoning from scorpion bite and snake bite.


Adverse effects: Excess use of the root and leaf of Ishwari can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Hence the herb should be used with extreme care.

This plant contains aristolochic acid, a carcinogen also found in various Aristolochia and Asarum plants, both in the Aristolochiaceae family of plants. Aristolochic acid is composed of an about 1:1 mixture of two forms, aristolochic acid I and aristolochic acid II.

In addition to its carcinogenicity, aristolochic acid is also highly nephrotoxic and may be a causative agent in Balkan nephropathy. However, despite these well-documented dangers, aristolochic acid still is present sometimes in herbal remedies (such as for weight loss), primarily because of substitution of innocuous herbs with Aristolochia species. The alcoholic extract is more toxic than the water extrac






Research articles related to Aristlochia indica:

Anti- microbial activity: The present study was designated to evaluate the antimicrobial activities of ethanolic extract of Aristolachia indica L. The antimicrobial activities of the extract against 12 strains belong to bacterial and fungi species were tested by using agar diffusion method. The results showed that ethanolic extract of Aristolachia indica had moderately significant antibacterial and significant antifungal activity. It inhibited the growth of both bacterial and fungal species dose dependently. The inhibition of growth was highest at 100mg/ml as compared to the controls. Ethanolic extract showed stronger antimicrobial activity against the fungi than that of the bacteria.

Nephro- protective action: The aim of the study was to determine the protective effect of Aristolochia indica leaf extract on Gentamicin induced nephrotoxicity in rats using biochemical approaches. Oxidative stress is the main factor in Gentamicin (GM) induced nephrotoxicity. Nephrotoxicity was assessed by measuring the abnormal levels of serum creatinine, urea and sodium and decreased level of protein and potassium. Treatment with Aristolochia indica leaves (500 mg/kg) significantly (p < 0.05) restored the levels of serum creatinine, urea, sodium, protein and potassium. Significantly (p < 0.05) increased the antioxidant defence enzyme levels of SOD, GPx and CAT on treatment with Aristolochia indica. The results suggest that an Aristolochia indica leaf has the potential in preventing the nephrotoxicity induced by Gentamicin.


The ethanol extract (300 mg/kg) and petroleum ether extract (100 mg/kg) were found to inhibit mast cell degranulation significantly equivalent to that of standard drug ketotifen (69%) by compound 48/80 model. In sheep serum model the ethanol extracts (150 and 300 mg/kg) and petroleum ether extract (100 mg/kg) showed good mast cell stabilizing activity (66-67%). Ethanol extract at 150 mg/kg showed 70% reduction of rat paw oedema and also significantly reduced the scratching response.

Fibrinogen and β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide independently form ordered aggregates but in combination, they form disordered structures which are resistant to fibrinolytic enzymes like plasmin and cause severity in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). A novel enzyme of 31.3 kDa has been isolated from the root of the medicinal plant Aristolochia indica that showed fibrinolytic as well as fibrin-Aβ co-aggregate destabilizing properties. This enzyme is functionally distinct from plasmin. Thrombolytic action of the enzyme was demonstrated in rat model. The potency of the plant enzyme in degrading fibrin and fibrin-plasma protein (Aβ, human serum albumin, lysozyme, transthyretin and fibronectin) co-aggregates was demonstrated by atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and confocal microscopy that showed better potency of the plant enzyme as compared to plasmin. Moreover, the plant enzyme inhibited localization of the co-aggregate inside SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells and also co-aggregate induced cytotoxicity. Plasmin was inefficient in this respect. In the background of limited options for fragmentation of these co-aggregates, the plant enzyme may appear as a potential proteolytic enzyme.



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