The Himalayan May Apple(Podophyllumhexandrum): A Review

Author(s): Abhishek Sharma and Pankaj Sharma

Plant based therapeuticals have been in use from time immemorial. The evolution of human race on this planet must have been closely followed by the advent of several diseases. The process took several million of years before he could identify the natural resources including plants for alleviating diseases by a process of trial and error.About 1,100 plants species are frequently used in Indian medicinal system and out of these, 500 plants are commonly used in preparation of different drugs. One of those plants is Podophyllum hexandrumRoyle, commonly known as the Himalayan May Apple.The herb grows in the Himalayan alpine and subalpine zones.Underground part of the plant yield podophyllotoxin, an active ingredient used as a starting compound for the chemical synthesis of etoposide and teniposide, compound that are effective in treatment of lung cancer, a variety of leukemias, and other solid tumors.Though podophyllotoxin is present in different plant species, but in sufficient amounts it is present only in some species of genus Podophyllum.Podophyllum hexandrumof Indian origin contains three times more podophyllotoxin than its American counterpart Podophyllum peltatum. There has been massive extraction of its rootstock over the last several decades leading to destructive harvesting. This has led to severe reduction in its population density and the species is now listed in endangered plants species category.Any further ecological change and disturbance can cause its extinction. So it is a matter of urgency, considering the medicinal importance of this species to protect it in its natural population.


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