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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-20  

Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Acanthus ilicifolius

Department of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission12-Dec-2012
Date of Decision29-Jan-2012
Date of Acceptance05-Apr-2012
Date of Web Publication28-Jan-2013

Correspondence Address:
Vidhu Aeri
Department of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-7406.106557

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Acanthus ilicifolius (Acanthaceae) has received considerable attention due to its wide range of secondary metabolites and its traditional usage in Indian and Chinese system of medicine. This plant is reported to be a mangrove. Mangrove survives in the most hostile environment with fluctuating tidal and saline regime. Hence, these plants are considered to be rich sources of steroids, triterpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and tannins. Present review article is an attempt to cover recent developments in phytochemical and pharmacological potential of drug. Traditionally, the plant has been used for dyspepsia, paralysis, asthsma, headache, rheumatism, and skin diseases. The plant is known as 'Krishnasaireyaka' or 'Karimkurunji', is one of the 9 plants equated to the drug 'Sahachara,' which is used in Ayurvedic medicine for rheumatic complaints. The plant has not been explored to its full potential. The review will be a good reference tool for investigators who wish to work on natural compounds with free radical scavenging activity to combat diseases associated with stress.

Keywords: 2-benzoxazolinone, Acanthus ilicifolius, anti-leishmanial

How to cite this article:
Singh D, Aeri V. Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Acanthus ilicifolius. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2013;5:17-20

How to cite this URL:
Singh D, Aeri V. Phytochemical and pharmacological potential of Acanthus ilicifolius. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 18];5:17-20. Available from:

The drug consists of leaves of Acanthus ilicifolius Linn. (Acanthaceae). A gregarious shrub, commonly found with mangroves along the coastal regions of India. The common names of Acanthus ilicifolius are Beng. Harkucha kanta, Eng. Holy leaved acanthus, Hind. Harkukanta, Kan. Holechudi, Mal. Payinachulli, Mar. Marandi, Mandli, Tam. Attumulli, Kaludaimulli, Tel. Alasyakampa, Alchi. It is found commonly in the east and west coasts, also found in Meghalaya and the Andamans. Leaves are simple, oblong to elliptic, varying in size, smaller in flowering season, measuring 7.5 to 15 cm in length and 5 to 6 cm in width, pinnatified, apex truncate to acute, terminating in a sharp spine, surface glabrous, granular; venation reticulate, veins strong, conspicuous, especially on the lower side, lateral veins 3 to 5 on each side terminating in a sharp 3 to 10 mm long spine at the toothed margin, spines longer in flowering season; petiole short, 5 to 6 mm in length, slightly winged with two sharp spines at the base; color dark green when fresh, yellowish-brown on drying. Odor indistinct, taste bitter. [1],[2],[3]

   Phytochemical Work Top

Different classes of chemical constituents have been isolated and characterized from Acanthus ilicifolius. Ethanolic/Methanolic/Chloroform/Hexane extracts obtained from different parts of the plant like root, leaves, aerial parts, stem, pods have been found to contain different chemical moieties: Alkaloids, glycosides, lignans, triterpenoid saponins, sterols, fatty acids, and coumaric acid derivatives [Table 1].
Table 1: Chemical compounds reported in Acanthus ilicifolius

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   Pharmacological Work Top

Anti-inflammatory activity

The methanolic extract of the plant was tested for analgesic activity in mice in dosage of 1 to 100 mg/kg i.p. The extract showed graded analgesic activity ranging from 42.8 to 85.7% in the tail clip method. The ED 50 was 2.5 ± 1 mg/kg compared to 10.0 ± 3.1 mg/ kg of pethidine hydrochloride. Graded protective effect ranging from 31.1 to 70.7% was also seen against hydrochloric acid-induced writhing in mice. The ED 50 of the extract administered was 13.0 ± 1.5 mg/kg compared to 240 ± 34.1 mg/kg of sodium salicylate. The extract (5 mg/kg i.p.) exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenan-induced edema in rats. In acute toxicity test, the extract did not show any mortality in mice in doses up to 1 g/ kg i.p. [20]

The methanolic fraction of A. ilicifolius leaf extract produced significant inhibition of rat paw edema when administered both prior to and after carrageenan administration, in a manner similar to BW755C, a synthetic cyclooxygenase and lipooxygenase inhibitor. The extract decreased protein exudation and leukocyte migration in the peritoneal fluid, thereby indicating its effectiveness towards inhibiting peritoneal inflammation. It also produced significant inhibition of cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 and lipooxygenase activity. Preincubation of the extract inhibited the production of proinflammatory cytokines in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. [21]

Anti-leishmanial activity

2-Benzoxazolinone (BOA) isolated from the leaves revealed in vitro anti-leishmanial activity against Leishmania donovani. No mortality was observed in mice when BOA was administered (i.p.) in the doses ranging from 0.25-1 g/kg. The LC 50 value for BOA was found to be 40 μg/ml and compared well with pentamidine. [22]

Osteoblastic activity

A coumaric acid derivative called acancifoliuside was isolated from the methanolic extract of the leaves. Its effects were tested on the functions of osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. It increased the growth and differentiation of osteoblasts significantly, indicating that A. ilicifolius leaves may help to prevent osteoporosis. [18]

Hepatoprotective activity

The oral administration of the alcoholic extract (250 and 500 mg/kg) significantly reduced CCl 4 -induced hepatotoxicity in rats as judged from the serum and tissue activity of marker enzymes. The results were comparable with those obtained with curcumin 100 mg/kg,p.o. [23]

Anti-cancer activity

To investigate the chemopreventive efficacy of A. ilicifolius in a transplantable Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC) bearing murine model, male Swiss albino mice were divided into 4 groups: Group A was untreated normal control; Group B was the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma control mice group that received serial, intraperitoneal inoculations of rapidly proliferating 2 × 10(5) viable Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells in 0.2 ml of sterile phosphate buffered saline; Group C was the plant extract-treated group that received the aqueous leaf extract of A. ilicifolius at a dose of 2.5 mg/kg body weight by single ip injections, once-daily for 10, 20, and 30 consecutive days following tumor inoculation (aq. leaf extract of A. ilicifolius); and Group D was the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma + aq. leaf extract of A. ilicifolius treatment group. [24]

Alcoholic extract of A. ilicifolius (250, 500 mg/kg body weight) was found to be effective against tumor progression and carcinogen-induced skin papilloma formation in mice. The extract was found to be cytotoxic towards lung fibroblasts (L-929) cells in 72 h MTT assay, and the concentration required for 50% cell death was 18 μg/ml. Oral administration of the extract (500 mg/ kg body wt) reduced the tumor volume, and administration of the same concentration increased the life span by 75% in ascites tumor harboring animals. The extract also significantly delayed the onset of dimethylbenzanthrazene/croton oil-induced skin papilloma in mice in a dose-dependent manner. [25]

Screening of different extracts and fractions from the plant A. ilicifolius has been conducted using the in vitro comet assay for anti-cancer using Hela and KB cell lines. The air-dried whole plant was sequentially extracted by n-hexane, chloroform, and methanol. The extracts were fractionated with ethyl acetate, acetone, and water. All the extracts and fractions were tested for anti-cancer activity by comet assay. Ethyl acetate extract of the whole plant showed significant anti-cancer activity. [26]

Anti-ulcer activity

The anti-ulcer activity of methanolic extracts of A. ilicifolius leaves (MEAI) was investigated in pylorus ligation and ethanol-induced wistar models in wistar albino rats. In both models, common parameter determined was the ulcer index. MEAI at doses of 100, 20 mg/kg body weight produced significant inhibition of gastric lesions induced by pylorus ligation and ethanol-induced gastric ulcers. The extract showed significant reduction in the gastric volume, free acidity, and ulcer index as compared to control. This suggests leaf methanolic extracts were found to possess anti-ulcerogenic as well as ulcer healing properties, which might be due to anti-secretary activity. [27]

Anti-microbial activity

The anti-microbial activity of n-hexane, chloroform, and methanol extracts of leaves and roots of the plant A. ilicifolius were studied. Ampicillin and clotrimazole were used as standard anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents, respectively. The result of the study revealed that the n-hexane and chloroform extract of the leaves exhibited strong inhibitory action against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger and moderate inhibitory action against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus vulgaris.[28]

The anti-microbial activity of ethanol, methanol, and aqueous extracts of leaves, stem, and root of A. ilicifolius were studied. These created an interest to test the possible anti-microbial activity of different part of this plant, which has not been reported. The cub-plate agar diffusion method was employed to assess the activity. 11 test microorganisms were used in this study. Microorganism were grown overnight at 37 o C in the Mueller-Hinton broth at pH 7.4. The data obtained were subjected to ANOVA test. [29]

The anti-microbial activity of crude extract against bacterial and fungal pathogens showed the clear inhibition zone against Vibrio cholerae and Aspergillus niger, and aqueous extracts showed clear inhibition zone for Psuedomonas sp. and Candida albicans.[30]

The anti-microbial activity of alcoholic, butanolic, and chloroform extracts of leaves and roots of the plant A. ilicifolius were studied. Ampicillin and clotrimazole were used as standard anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents, respectively. The result of the study revealed that the alcoholic and chloroform extract of the leaves exhibited strong inhibitory action against Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger and moderate inhibitory action against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Proteus vulgaris.[31]

   Traditional Medicinal Uses Top

A decoction of the plant with sugar candy and cumin is used in dyspepsia with acid eructations. It is also considered to be a diuretic and is used as a cure for dropsy and bilious swellings. The plant is reported to be used in asthma. The leaves are expectorant, employed as an emollient fomentation in rheumatism and neuralgia. The leaves and tender shoot are used in snake bite. The root is expectorant and used in asthma. This when boiled in milk is used in leucorrhoea and general debility.

   Ethnobotanical Studies Top

The plant is used for dyspepsia, paralysis, and asthma. The leaves are reported to be used in headache, rheumatism, and in skin diseases. Leaves and shoots are used as antidote in snake bite. [32]

   References Top

1.Gupta AK, Tandon N, Sharma M. Quality standards of Indian medicinal plants published by Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi 2008;6:11-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Xie LS, Liao YK, Huang QF, Huang MC. Pharmacognotic studies on mangrove Acanthus ilicifolius. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 2005;30:1501-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Mastaller M. Mangroves: The forgotten forest between land and sea. Tropical Press 1997;97.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Tiwari KP, Minocha PK, Masood M. Acanthicifoline-A new alkaloid from Acanthus ilicifolius. Pol J Chem 1980;54:857-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Minocha PK, Tiwari KP. A triterpenoid saponin from the roots of Acanthus ilicifolius. Phytochemistry 1981;20:135-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Murty MS, Wahidulla S, Kamat SY. Isolation of 2-Benzoxazolinone from Acanthus ilicifolius. Indian J Pharm Sci 1984;46:218-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Ghosh A, Mishra S, Dutta A, Choudhary A. Pentacyclic triterpenoids and sterols from seven species of mangrove. Phytochemistry 1985;24:1725-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Nair AG, Pouchaname V. Methylapigenin 7-o-β-D-glucuronate, a new flavones glycoside from Acanthus ilicifolius. J Indian Chem Soc 1987;64:224-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Kanchanapoom T, Kasai R, Yamasaki K. Flavonoid glycosides from Acanthus ilicifolius L. Nat Med 2002;56:122.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.D'Souza L, Wahidulla S, Mishra PD. Bisoxazolinone from the mangrove Acanthus ilicifolius. Indian J Chem 1997;36B:1079-81.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Kanchanapoom T, Kamel MS, Kasai R, Yamasaki K, Picheansoonthon C, Hiraga Y. Lignan glucosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Phytochemistry 2001;56:369-72.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Zhang W, Li Q, Huang J, Xiao Z, Long L. Two new cyclolignan glycosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Z. Naturforsch 2004;59 b:341-44.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Wahidulla S, Bhattacharjee JJ. Benzoxazinoids from Acanthus ilicifolius. J Indian Inst Sci 2001;81:485-90.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Kanchanapoom T, Kamel MS, Kasai R, Yamasaki K, Picheansoonthon C, Hiraga Y. Benzoxazinoid glucosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Phytochemistry 2001;58:637-40.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Wu J, Zhang S, Huang J, Xiao Q, Li Q, Long L, et al. New aliphatic alcohol and (Z)-4-Coumaric acid glycosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Chem Sci Bull 2003;51:1201-3.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Wu J, Zhang S, Huang J, Xiao Q, Li Q, Long L, et al. Phenylethanoid and aliphatic alcohol glycosides from Acanthus ilicifolius. Phytochemistry 2003;63:491-5.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Goswami S, Chatterjee B, Mallik M. Proof of presence of unusually naturally occurring homologous series of fifteen saturated odd and even fatty acids in Acanthus ilicifolius L.(Acanthaceae). J Ind Chem Soc 2004;81:696-706.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Van Kiem P, Quang TH, Huong TT, Nhung le LT, Cuong NX, Van Minh C, et al. Chemical constituents of Acanthus ilicifolius L. and effect on osteoblastic MC3T3E1 cells. Arch Pharm Res 2008;31:823-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Huo C, Liang H, Tu G, Zhao Y, Lin W. A New 5,11-epoxymegastigmane glucoside from Acanthus ilicifolius. Nat Prod Res 2008;22:896-900.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Agshikhar NV, Naik VR, Abraham GJ, Reddy CV, Naqvi SW, Mittal PK. Analgesic and antiinfammatory activity of Acanthus ilicifolius Linn. Indian J Exp Biol 1979;17:1257-8.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Mani Senthil Kumar KT, Gorain B, Roy DK, Samanta SK, Pal M, Biswas P, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Acanthus ilicifolius. J Ethnopharmacol 2008;120:7-12.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Kapil A, Sharma S, Wahidulla S. Leishmanicidal activity of 2-benzoxazolinone from Acanthus ilicifolius in vitro. Planta Med 1994;60:187-8.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Babu BH, Sylesh BS, Padikkala J. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effect of Acanthus ilicifolius. Fitoterapia 2001;72:272-7.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Chakraborty T, Bhuniya D, Chatterjee M, Rahaman M, Singh D, Chatterjee BN, et al. Acanthus ilicifolius plant extracts prevents DNA alterations in a transplantable Ehrlich ascites carcinoma-bearing murine model. World J Gastroenterol 2007;13:6538-48.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Babu BH, Sylesh BS, Padikkala J. Tumour reducing and anticarcinogenic activity of Acanthus ilicifolius in mice. J. Ethnopharmacol 2002;79:27-33.  Back to cited text no. 25
26.Khajure PV, Rathod JL. Potential anticancer activity of Acanthus ilicifolius extracted from the mangroves forest of Karwar, West coast of India. World J Sci Technol 2011;1:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 26
27.Nizamuddin BS, Danamma B, Chitta S, Mohd D, Abdul M. Evaluation of antiulcer activity in the methanol extract of Acanthus ilicifolius leaves in experimental rats. Int J Pharm Ind Res 2011;1:57-62.  Back to cited text no. 27
28.Khajure V, Rathod JL. Antimicrobial activity of extracts of Acanthus ilicifolius extracted from the mangroves of Karwar coast Karnataka. Recent Res Sci Technol 2010;2:98-9.  Back to cited text no. 28
29.Ganesh S, Jannet J. Screening for antimicrobial activity in Acanthus ilicifolius. Arch Appl Sci Res 2010;2:311-5.  Back to cited text no. 29
30.Thirunavukkarasu P, Ramathan T, Ramkumar L. Hemolytic and antimicrobial effect in the leaves of Acanthus ilicifolius. J Pharmacol Toxicol 2011;6:196-200.  Back to cited text no. 30
31.Bose S, Bose A. Antimicrobial activity of Acanthus ilicifolius. Indian J Pharm Sci 2008;70:821-3.  Back to cited text no. 31
32.Gupta AK, Tandon N, Sharma M. Reviews on Indian medicinal plants Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi 2004;127-31.  Back to cited text no. 32


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