Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Agnimantha or Premna or Premna Integrifolia/Serratifolia/Obtusifolia

Agnimantha or Premna or Premna Integrifolia - Leaves, Buds, Flowers & Fruits

Agnimantha or Premna or Premna Integrifolia - Leaves & Flower Buds

Agnimantha or Premna or Premna Integrifolia - Tree with Flowers & Fruits

Introduction: Agnimantha or Arani or Premna, holds an important place in Ayurveda and traditional Indian Medicine System, mainly due to its highly effectiveness in treatment of Cardiac ailments and oedema. But that's not all, it has several other medicinal properties and health benefits that gives Agnimantha such an important place. Instances of its uses in ancient India have been cited in Ayurveda and Siddha system of medicines. It's root forms one of the ten key ingredients of an Ayurvedic formulation called Dashamula or Dashamularist (Dasha - Ten, Mula - Root). Its bark and stem is an integral component of Chyavanprash, an Ayurvedic health tonic.

Common Names:
  • Hindi: Agnimantha, Ganiyari
  • Sanskrit: Agnimantha, Arani, Ganikarika
  • English: Headache Tree

Botanical Information:
  • Scientific Name:
    • Premna Serratifolia (With serrated leaves)
    • Premna Integrifolia (With smooth-edged, non-serrated leaves)
    • Premna Obtusifolia R. Br. (With smooth-edged, more rounded leaves)
  • Family: Lamiaceae (Some books/studies suggest that it belongs to Verbenaceae Family)
  • Genus: Premna
  • Origin: Indian Subcontinent, Asia-Pacific
  • Distribution: Coastal areas of Indian Subcontinent & Asia-Pacific
Note: Another shrub of Lamiaceae family, bearing botanical name Chlerodendrum Phlomidis, is also recognized as Agnimantha & has medicinal properties similar to those of Premna Integrifolia or Premna Serratifolia. This post, however, is written predominantly around Premna.

Detailed Description: Agnimantha or Arani or Headache Tree, as it commonly known in English, is an evergreen small tree or a large shrub that may grow anywhere between 1 to 10 meters in height. The thick leaves are serrated in Premna Serratifolia, smooth-edged in Premna Integrifolia and somewhat rounded in Premna Obtusifolia. The plant bears small, whitish pale-green flowers in bunches which ultimately change into green, round fruits that turns black on ripening. It grows in abundance in wild along the coasts of Indian Subcontinent and Asia-Pacific region.

Parts Used: Mainly Leaves and Roots, followed by Stem-Bark, Root-Bark etc.

Form of Application: Extract, Decoction, Powder, Ash, Paste with other herbs,

Mode of Application: Oral (Extract, Decoction, Infusion), Local External (Powder, Paste, Extract) etc.

Extraction of Juice: By compression, alcoholic extraction, infusion in water etc.

Physical Properties: The extract has following physical properties;
  • Colour: Green
  • Texture: Liquid with low viscosity
  • Taste: Bitter. Young leaves are less in bitterness & are eaten as vegetable.
  • Aroma: Smells very unpleasant, like cat's urine, when crushed.
  • State: Liquid at room temperature.

Chemical Composition:
  • Extract of Leaves: The chief constituents are;
    • Aldehydes: Hydroxy-Methyl-Benzaldehyde
    • Alkaloids: Aphelandrine, Ganiarine, Ganikarine, Premnine, Premnazole
    • Acids: Do-Decanoic Acid, Benzene-Di-Carboxylic Acid, Methoxy-Phenyl-Propenoic Acid, N-Hexa-Decanoic Acid, Octa-Decanoic Acid
    • Flavonoids: Epicatechin, Luteolin, Pectolinarin, Poly-Isoprenoid, Scutellarein
    • Ester: Ethyl Ester, Methyl-Propyl-Ester
    • Iridoid Glycosides: 2-Caffeoyl-6-α-L-Rhamnopyranosylcatalpol & 3-Caffeoyl-6-α-L-Rhamnopyranosylcatalpol
    • Ketones: Anthroquinones, Methyl Furandione,
    • Phenolic Compounds: Beta Sitosterol, Di-Hydro-Benzofuran, Hydroxy-Propenyl-Methoxy-Phenol, Phytol
    • Resins,
    • Saponins,
    • Steroids,
    • Sugars & Reducing Sugars,
    • Tannins,
    • Terpenoids : Betulin (Pentacyclic Terpene)
    • Others: Glycerin, Hexa-Deca-Methyl-Octasiloxane, Glycerrihizin
  • Extract of Roots:Components are;
    • Aldehydes: Hydroxy-Methyl-Benzaldehyde, Hydroxy-Methyl-Furancarboxaldehyde
    • Alkaloids: Ganiarine, Ganikarine, Premnine, Premnazole
    • Acids: Do-Decanoic Acid, Benzene-Di-Carboxylic Acid, Methoxy-Phenyl-Propenoic Acid, N-Hexa-Decanoic Acid, Octa-Decanoic Acid
    • Flavonoids,
    • Ester: Ethyl Ester, Methyl-Propyl-Ester
    • Iridoid Glycosides,
    • Ketones: Anthroquinones, Methyl Furandione,
    • Phenolic Compounds: Di-Hydro-Benzofuran, Hydroxy-Propenyl-Methoxy-Phenol, Phytol, Cyclopropazulenol, Deca-Hydro-Tri-Methyl-Methylene, Tetra-Methyl-Tri-Cyclo-Un-Decanol, Phenanthrenol,
    • Saponins,
    • Steroids,
    • Sugars & Reducing Sugars,
    • Tannins,
    • Terpenoids,
    • Others: Glycerin, Hexa-Deca-Methyl-Octasiloxane, Seychellene, Tetra-Methyl-Hexa-Decanol,
  • Extract of Stem: The extract contains;
    • Phenolic Compounds: Beta-Sitosterol, D-Mannitol, Ceryl Alcohol, Verbascoside, Premnafolioside
    • Flavonoids: Betulin
  • Extract of Stem-Bark: The chief constituent are;
    • Alkaloids: Premnine, Ganiarine, Ganikarine & a Spermine Alkaloid called Aphelandrine.
  • Extract of Root-Bark: More or less similar to composition of extract of roots.

Medicinal Properties: The extraordinary medicinal properties of Agnimantha or Arani or Premna are listed as under;
  • Anti-Arrhythmic (Root Extract): This property of Agnimantha (Premna) Root Extract prevents irregular heartbeats or palpitations, thus functioning as a sedative.
  • Anti-Coagulant: It maintains fluidity of blood and does not let it to thicken or coagulate. This property plays a crucial role in treating cardiac problems arising due to hypertension resulting from cholesterol deposition in the arteries or thickening of blood under influence of intoxicants, nicotine etc. This medicinal property of Agnimantha can save lives during cardiac arrests by keeping the blood thin.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: The leaves or leaves extract of Agnimantha or Premna contains an Isoxazole alkaloid called Premnazole which is very effective in countering inflammations, particularly those in digestive and circulatory systems.
  • Anti-Rheumatic & Anti-Arthritic (Root Bark Extract): The alkaloids present in Premna or Agnimantha reduce Uric Acid level in blood, thereby giving relief in rheumatism and arthritis, uric acid upsurge being their major cause.
  • Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Microbial (Root Bark Extract): The alkaloids, flavonoids & various acids present in Agnimantha extract have strong anti-microbial and anti-bacterial effects. These properties make it useful in treating bacterial or microbial infections, internal or external.
  • Anti-Biotic: The components discussed above also inhibit biotic growth (growth of foreign elements like microbes, parasites, virus etc.), making Agnimantha extract a good anti-biotic, free of adverse side effects.
  • Anti-Tumour: The flavonoids present in Premna extract have been found effective in reducing size of tumours as well as preventing their formation.
  • Astringent (Root Bark Extract): The root bark extract has powerful astringent properties and is good for tonic muscles, strengthening gums, toning skin etc. The same property can make the blood vessels to contract and stop bleeding, when applied locally.
  • Anti-Histaminic or Bechic (Leaf Extract): The extract of leaves of Agnimantha sedates histaminic activity by reducing histamine production & thereby giving effective relief in cough.
  • Anti-Oxidant: The flavonoids in Agnimantha are effective anti-oxidants. This property protects our body from damages like macular degeneration, ageing, certain types of cancer etc. by neutralizing free radicals.
  • Cardiac Stimulant & Tonic: The Iridoid Glycosides & Alkaloids present in extract of leaves and roots of Premna (Agnimantha) are effective cardiac stimulant and cardiac tonic. They keep your heart healthy and active.
  • Carminative (Leaf Extract): Gas or flatulence can be very disturbing and sickening sometimes & the relief is there in the leaf extract of Premna or Agnimantha.
  • Digestive: The alkaloids and flavonoids present in Premna (Agnimantha) aid digestion.
  • Diuretic: Urination is good way of reducing weight & removing toxins from the body. Agnimantha, due to its diuretic properties, increases frequency and quantity of urination & thus detoxifies our body and reduces weight.
  • Febrifuge (Leaf Extract): The alkaloids present in Premna leaf extract fight against viral infections & reduce fever. Agnimantha leaf extract is a very good remedy for providing relief in high, adamant fever.
  • Galactagogue (Leaf Extract): The leaf extract of Agnimantha or Premna increases quantity & frequency of milk secretion in breasts. This property can be beneficial for lactating mothers & so for the babies.
  • Hepatoprotective (Root Extract): Administration of root extract of Agnimantha (Premna) resulted in significant reduction in peroxidation of lipids, serum enzymes and bilirubin (the one whose over-production is responsible for causing Jaundice and liver malfunction). It protects the liver.
  • Hypoglycaemic (Root Extract, Stem Bark Extract): The term Hypoglycaemic means one that lowers glucose. The alkaloids present in extracts of root and stem-bark of Premna (Agnimantha) were found to be capable of lowering blood glucose level significantly. Regular consumption of these extracts can be very helpful for patients of both Type-I and Type-II diabetes.
  • Hypotensive (Stem Bark Extract): The anti-coagulative property of stem bark extract of Agnimantha or Premna & alkaloids present in it lowers blood pressure.
  • Laxative (Leaves & Leaf Extract): Chewing leaves of Agnimantha or Premna is a common practice for relieving constipation. The fiber content & certain components of leaf extract ease the peristaltic motion, retain water & clear bowels. It is a good remedy for irritable bowel syndrome too.
  • Stomachic (Root Extract): The alkaloids present in Premna (Agnimantha) act as acidity regulators in stomach, thereby giving protection against stomach disorders. The flavonoids in it keep stomach healthy.
  • Tonic: An agent that promotes overall health. The flavonoids & other components present in Agnimantha make it a good tonic.

Indications & Symptoms: Agnimantha (Premna) is used in the treatment of a whole list of medical conditions, displayed below;
  • Obesity: The Hypoglycaemic property of roots & stem-bark reduces the blood-sugar level, thus serving as a good remedy for controlling diabetes, without any adverse side effect. Further, the diuretic property promotes weight loss by increasing frequency & quantity of urination.
  • Inflammation: The Isoxazole alkaloid called Premnazole, present in Premna or Agnimantha, has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties & gives relief in many types of inflammation, particularly those of digestive and circulatory system.
  • Constipation: The leaves and leaf extract of Premna (Agnimantha) have laxative properties & widely consumed to give relief in constipation.
  • Lack of breast-milk production: The galactagogue property of flavonoids present in leaves increases milk production and secretion, thereby treating dryness.
  • Glandular Swellings or Enlargements: The catechin flavonoids and alkaloids present in Agnimantha (Premna) reduce swelling of glands.
  • Oedema: The same components discussed above are also responsible for reducing swelling of body.
  • Erysipelas: Erysipelas is a bacterial infection, indicated by high fever with red patches on skin. It is also sometimes called St. Anthony's Fire. Extract of Premna leaves and root-bark, having strong anti-bacterial properties, is a good remedy for Erysipelas.
  • Dyspepsia: Dyspepsia is primarily a digestive disorder, indicated by pain in stomach and intestines & indigestion. The digestive properties of Premna or Agnimantha can be effective in its treatment.
  • Digestive Disorders: Explained above
  • Severe Contagious Skin Diseases: The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of Premna extract make it a good cure for contagious skin diseases.
  • Long Term Fever: The febrifuge property of Agnimantha, resulting from its anti-microbial & anti-bacterial properties which are again due to the presence of alkaloids in it, makes it effective for reducing fevers like malaria, typhoid, influenza etc. caused by virus, bacteria and protozoa.
  • Misperistalsis: The digestive disorders associated with improper peristaltic motion are cured by consumption of Agnimantha leaves as certain components in them are helpful in bringing the peristaltic motion in order.
  • Piles: The laxative effect of Premna leaves cures constipation, the major cause of piles, thereby giving relief in piles.
  • Calculi: The alkaloids and flavonoids present in various parts of Agnimantha or Premna neutralize the effect of uric acid in body, thereby preventing formation of calculi.
  • Urinary Disorders: The diuretic property of Agnimantha makes it useful in treating urinary disorders like obstructed urination, bad smell etc.
  • Diabetes: Once again, the alkaloids and flavonoids present in Premna, particularly in the extracts of stem-bark and root, have hypoglycaemic effects, i.e. they lower glucose level in blood. This effect makes it an effective treatment for diabetes.
  • Urticaria: Urticaria, a common type of allergic reaction characterized by red, itchy, swollen patches on skin and mainly caused to over-secretion or imbalance of bile (Pitta in Ayurveda), can be relieved with Premna or Agnimantha extract due to its sedative property & ability to reduce peroxidation of lipids, serum enzymes and bilirubin (bile) production.
  • Allergy: Explained above.
  • Freckles: The anti-oxidant property of Agnimantha helps cure freckles.
  • Sinusitis: The anti-inflammatory, astringent and anti-swelling properties of Agnimantha (Premna) extract give relief from acute inflammation and irritation in sinusitis.
  • Headache: Once again, the sedative and anti-inflammatory properties of Agnimantha provide relief in headache.
  • Poor Health: Premna or Agnimantha extract functions as a tonic & improves health by keeping the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems in order.
  • Rheumatism and Arthritis: The alkaloids and flavonoids present in Agnimantha give relief in rheumatism and arthritis by neutralizing uric acid.
  • Microbial or Bacterial Infections: The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of Premna are found very useful in treating numerous types of microbial and bacterial infections, internal or external.
  • Breathlessness, Asthma: The sedative property of Agnimantha sedates asthma attacks and breathlessness by clearing passages.
  • Neuralgia: Neuralgia is a very painful condition caused by spasm in nerves. The sedative effect of Premna pacifies this nervous disturbance or spasm and provides relief in neuralgia. However, it is not a cure for neuralgia.

Other Uses: Few other uses of Agnimantha or Premna are;
  • In many countries of Asia-Pacific region, like Indonesia and Malaysia; the young, tender leaves are consumed as vegetable.
  • Due to its dense growth and easy propagation through cuttings, it is used as boundary-hedge or street tree.

Availability: Abundant

Estimated Unit Price: The approx. prices are given as follows. However, the prices may vary greatly, depending upon the quality of the product, concentration, manufacturer, country of purchase, customer's location, shipping charges etc.
  • Agnimantha Extract: $5 per 500 ml.
  • Agnimantha Powder: $2 per 50 grams approx.

Caution: Due to its laxative properties, long term consumption of leaves or their extract may cause diarrhoea or loose motions.

Statutory Warning: Must be administered under supervision of an expert or medical practitioner.

Storage: In cool, dry place in air-tight containers, away from sunlight & heat. Do not refrigerate.

Blending/Formulations: In most cases, Premna is used alone. In Chyavanprash, an Ayurvedic health tonic, Agnimantha is combined with many herbs & honey.

Other Aspects or Information:
  • Social: The young and tender leaves of Agnimantha are also consumed as vegetable in many countries. The leaves are also given to mothers suffering from inadequacy of breast milk.
  • Cultural: Not known
  • Historical: Instances of use in ancient Indian medicine system & traditional medicine systems of other countries are found.
  • Economical: Since the shrub grows in abundance in wild, economical cultivation is not popular.

Conclusion: You yourself have seen the lists of medicinal properties & indications where Agnimantha or Premna is used. Rest is self explanatory. Doesn't that make it an Amazing Indian Herb in the true sense? It surely does. Hats off to Premna (Agnimantha).

So, go natural, go herbal and live longer!


Photos: From Internet

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