Benefits of Indian Podophyllum
Herbs a to z
Indian podophyllum is an erect, succulent herb with a creeping root stalk. It has flower-bearing erect branches leafy at top. The plant has toothed, purple spotted leaves, deeply divided in 3 to 5 lobes. The flowers are white or pinkish, cup-shaped and solitary. Its fruit is egg-shaped and scarlet in colour. The dried rhizomes of the plant constitute the drug.
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.
According to Viehoever and Mack (1938)1, the only active crystallisable substance isolated from either podophyllum or podophyllin is podophyllotoxin. Probably, it is not the chief cathartic principle, which is still to be isolated.
The herb podophyllum is used as a hepatic stimulant and as an agent to promote the flow of bile. I t is also useful as a purgative and as a drug to correct disordered processes of nutrition and to restore the normal function of the system. It is a bitter tonic which helps induce vomiting.
The drug 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 griping. It should therefore be administered either in combination with belladonna or Indian aloe.
Podophyllum is reported to be useful in many skin diseases and tumorous growths. It has acquired importance in recent years for its possible use in controlling skin cancer.
Precautions: 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.