Asthisamharaka (Cissus quadrangularis)
The Sanskrit word asthisamharaka literally means that which saves the bones from their destruction. Precisely, it is also named as asthisandhani, which describes its peculiar quality of healing the bone fractures. Denoting the same property, is has few synonyms, like vafravati, asthisrnkhala, vajrangi, granthimala etc. The plant has been mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda. It is used in folklore medicine to heal bone fractures, throughout India. The Sanskrit names, mentioned above, also hint at the same use by ancient physicians.
The plant grows throughout India, especially, in gotter regions and in Sri Lanka, The tendril climber has quadrangular stems with ridges. The stems are often leafless, when old. Few aerial roots arise from the joined nodes and grow towards the soil, The leaves are small, simple, heart – shaped and toothed. The flowers are small, greenish white, in short cymes. The fruits are globose or ovoid berries, red when ripe. The author of Nighantu Ratnakara mentions the there are two varieties of this climber, namely, of four – sided and three – sided stems. But only one variety of four – sided stem is reported; which at times may be seen shooting out branches having three sides. A two – sided horticultural variety is also grown in gardens.
The botanical name of asthisamharaka is Cissus quadrangularis and it belongs to family Vitaceae. From the plant stems, 3- ketosteroids have been isolated. The steroid contained in this plant has an anabolic property. Two new unsymmetric tetracyclic triterpenoiks onocer – 7- en- 3 along with sitosterol, delta amyrin and delta amyrone were isolated.
Asthisamharaka is sweet in taste sour in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates vata and kapha dosas. It possessed dry , light and mild laxative attributes. It is an appetizer, digestant, an aphrodisiac and healer of bone fractures. Mainly it is used in the diseases like piles, fractures, asthma, cough and loss of appetite. (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
The stem and leaves of asthisamharaka have great medicinal value. The plant is used both, internally as well as externally. As it is a healing gerb and styptic (rakta stambhana) one, it is used to promote the healing of bone fractures. For that purpose, externally, the crushed stems are used as a poultice over bone fractures, along with the juice of its roasted stems, orally, is given with ghee. In epistaxix, the stem juice is instilled nasally, to arrest the nose bleed. The powdered stem is missed with pulses and fried in sesame oil, as a remedy for several vata diseases.
Orally, the plant is recommended with vakeri (Caesalpinia digya) root powder, in veneral diseases. In loss of appetite and indigestion, the cooked leaved are advised or their burnt ash is used. In menorrhagia, the stem juice, combined with gopicandana, is prescribed with ghee and honey. The fresh juice of the plant is benevolent in asthma. As a blood purifier, it is said to be beneficial in blood disorders in scurvy also. Asthisamharaka is also used as a general tonic.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Asthisamharaka juice
- Asthisamharaka powder
- Asthisamharaka decoction of dried stalks.