Ficus benghalensis Linn

Family ► Moraceae.

Habitat ► Sub-Himalayan tract and Peninsular India. Planted along roadsides, and in gardens.

English ► Banyan tree.

Ayurvedic ► Vata, Nyagrodha, Bahupaada, Dhruv.

Unani ► Bargad, Darakht-e-Reesh.

Siddha/Tamil ► Aalamaram.

Action ► Infusion of bark—used in diabetes, dysentery, and in seminal weakness, leucorrhoea, menorrhagia, nervous disorders, erysipelas, burning sensation. Milky juice and seeds—applied topically to sores, ulcers, cracked soles of the feet, rheumatic inflammations. Buds—a decoction in milk is given in haemorrhages. Aerial roots— antiemetic, topically applied to pimples. Leaves—a paste is applied externally to abscesses and wounds for promoting suppuration.

Along with other therapeutic applications, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia ofIndia recommends the aerial root in lipid disorders.

Phytosterolin, isolated from the roots, given orally to fasting rabbits at a dose of 25 mg/kg, produced maximum fall in blood sugar level equivalent to 81% of the tolbutamide standard after 4 h. The root bark showed antidiabetic activity in pituitary diabetes and alloxan-induced diabetes.

The alcoholic extract of the stem bark also exhibited antidiabetic activity on alloxan-induced diabetes in albino rats, and brought down the level of serum cholesterol and blood urea. This activity is attributed to a glucoside, bengalenoside and the flavonoid glycosides, leucocyanidin and leucopelargonidin. Bengalenoside is half as potent as tolbutamide. The leucopelargonidin glycoside is practically nontoxic and may be useful in controlling diabetes with hyperlipi-demia. The leucocyanidin, when combined with a low dose of insulin, not only equalled in response the effects

Ficus cordifolia Roxb. 265

brought about by a double dose of insulin, but also excelled in amelioration of serum cholesterol and triglycerides.

(Additional references: Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 1975, 19(4), 218220; J Ethnopharmacol, 1989, 26(1), 155; Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 1994, 38(3), 220-222.)

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