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Scientific Name: Asclepius tuberosa

Constituents:

  • Cardiac glycosides: cardenolide type (afroside, asclepin, asclepiadin, calactin, calotropin, gomphoside, syriogenin, syrioside, uscharidin, uscharin and uzarigenin).
  • Flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, rutin and isorhamnetin)
  • Amino acids (choline)
  • Phenolic acids (caffeic & chlorogenic acid)
  • Carbohydrates (glucose, fructose and sucrose)
  • Triterpenes (a-amyrin and bamyrin, lupeol, friedelin, viburnitol)
  • Volatile oil
  • Resin

Medicinal actions:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Cardiotonic
  • Carminative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Laxative
  • Expectorant
  • Nervine relaxant
  • Vasodilator

Mechanism of Action & Pharmacology:

  • Chemistry is poorly documented, but phytochemical studies on related Asclepias species have identified many cardiac glycoside constituents. A as rule, cardiac glycosides inhibit the sodium potassium pump leading to a rise in intracellular calcium, which increases contractile force and speed of the heart muscle. A positive inotropic action (in vivo and in vitro) has been reported for asclepin, which was found to be more potent, longer acting and with a wider safety margin when compared with other cardiac glycosides (including digoxin). Asclepin was also reported to exhibit a more powerful activity towards weak cardiac muscle.
  • Low doses of extracts have been documented to cause uterine contractions (in vivo) and to exhibit estrogenic effects.
  • Flavonoids rutin and quercetin are cardioactive steroids.

Pharmacy:

  • Decoction
  • Tincture
  • Dried herb
  • Note: traditionally given in small, frequent doses

Safety & Toxicity Concerns:

  • Avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Has been documented to cause dermatitis (milky latex is reported to be irritant).
  • Large doses may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Note: Asclepin has been documented to have a wider margin of safety than digoxin in animal and in vitro studies.

Interactions:

  • Potential to interact with other medicines administered concurrently with similar or opposing effects (e.g. Digitalis).

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