Indian podophyllum is an erect, succulent herb with toothed, purple spotted leaves, deeply divided in 3 to 5 lobes. It has flower bearing erect branches leafy at top. The flowers are white or pinkish, cup shaped and rhizomes of the plant constitute the drug. It has a creeping root stalk.
The active principle of podophyllum is contained in the resinous mixture known as podophyllin. The other constituent of the root is podophyllotoxin. The rhizomes yield podophyllol, a sticky resin, quercetin and podophyllotoxin.
Botanical Name: Podophyllum hexandrum
Indian Name: Papri or Banbaigan
Below are some of the medicinal properties of Indian podophyllum:
- The herb podophyllum is useful as a drug to correct disordered processes of nutrition and to restore the normal function of the system.
- It is highly beneficial for treating chronic constipation and is used as a purgative. The safe single dose is 0.01 gm. Its action is slow but strong. In large doses, it can cause acute irritation and gripping. It should therefore be administered either in combination with belladonna or Indian aloe.
- It is used as a hepatic stimulant and as an agent to promote the flow of bile.
- Podophyllum is useful in treating many skin diseases and tumorous growths. It has acquired importance in recent years for its possible use in controlling skin cancer.
Podophyllin greatly irritates the eyes and the mucous membranes. The resin does not affect normal skin but may be absorbed by irritated or abrased skin and helps purging. It is an effective purgative, but in toxic or over doses it produces intense enteritis or inflammation of the small intestines which may sometimes result in death.