Editor's Note
The authors of this study seek to present an exhaustive and updated review on the traditional, pharmacological and phytochemical aspects of  Hemidesmus indicus (L.)  with notes on its quality control and toxicological information. The main pharmacological properties of  H. indicus include hepatoprotective, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-ophidian, cardioprotective, nephroprotective, anti-ulcerogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Phytochemical evaluations of the root have revealed the presence of aromatic aldehydes and their derivatives, phenolics, triterpenoids and many other compounds, some of which were attributed to its bioactivity. This review also compiles a list of Ayurvedic formulations and commercial preparations where  H. indicus has been used as an active ingredient.
Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance

Hemidesmus indicus  (L.) R. Br. ex Schult. (Apocynaceae) is widely used in traditional medicine in the different parts of the Indian subcontinent due to the various biological activities attributed to its different parts, especially the roots. It has traditionally been used for treating snakebites, scorpion stings, diabetes, urinary diseases, dyspnea, menorrhagia, oligospermia, anorexia, fever, abdominal colic and pain, dysentery, diarrhea, cough, rheumatism, headache, inflammation, pyrosis, skin diseases, leprosy, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer. In Ayurveda, the plant is used in the treatment of bone-loss, low body weight, fever, stress, topical wound and psoriasis. Besides, Ayurvedic literature also depicts its use as anti-atherogenic, anti-spasmodic, memory enhancing, immunopotentiating and anti-inflammatory agents.

Aim of the study

In this review, we aim to present a comprehensive update on the ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, specific pharmacology, and toxicology of  H. indicus  and its bioactive metabolites. Possible directions for future research are also outlined in brief.

Materials and methods

Popular and widely used international databases such as PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Google Scholar and JSTOR were searched and traditional literature were consulted using the various search strings to retrieve a number of citations related to the ethnopharmacology, biological activity, toxicology, quality control and phytochemistry of  H. indicus . All studies on the ethnobotany, phtochemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology of the plant up to 2019 were included in this review.

Results

H. indicus  has played an important role in traditional Indian medicine (including  Ayurveda ) and also in European medicine. The main pharmacological properties of  H. indicus  include hepatoprotective, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, neuroprotective, anti-ophidian, cardioprotective, nephroprotective, anti-ulcerogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Phytochemical evaluations of the root have revealed the presence of aromatic aldehydes and their derivatives, phenolics, triterpenoids and many other compounds, some of which were attributed to its bioactivity. This review also compiles a list of Ayurvedic formulations and commercial preparations where  H. indicus  has been used as an active ingredient. We have included the critical assessment of all the papers cited in this manuscript based on experimental observation and other important points which reflect the loop-holes of research strategy and ambiguity in the papers reviewed in this manuscript.

Conclusions

The study presents an exhaustive and updated review on the traditional, pharmacological and phytochemical aspects of  H. indicus  with notes on its quality control and toxicological information. Although the crude extracts of  H. indicus  exhibit an array of pharmacological activities, it is high time to identify more active phyto-constituents by bioactivity-guided isolation besides elucidating their structure-activity relationship. More designed investigations are needed to comprehend the multi-target network pharmacology, to clarify the molecular mode of action and to ascertain the efficacious doses of  H. indicus . Moreover,  H. indicus  is not fully assessed on the basis of its safety and efficacy on human. We hope this review will compile and improve the existing knowledge on the potential utilization of  H. indicus  in complementary and alternative medicine.

Graphical abstract
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