Withania coagulans Dunal

Family ► Solanaceae.

Habitat ► Drier parts of Punjab, Gujarat, Simla and Kumaon.

English ► Vegetable Rennet, Indian Cheese-maker.

Unani ► Desi Asgandh, Kaaknaj-e-Hindi, Paneer, Paneer-band. Akri (fruit).

Siddha/Tamil ► Ammukkura.

Action ► Alterative, emetic, diuretic. Ripe fruits—sedative, CNS depressant, antibilious, emetic, antiasth-matic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory; used in chronic liver troubles and strangury. Dried fruits— carminative, depurative; used for dyspepsia, flatulence and strangury. Leaf—alterative, febrifuge. Seeds— anti-inflammatory, emetic, diuretic, emmenagogue.

Though known as Desi Asgandh, the root is not used in Indian medicine. Ashwagandhaa (Bengali) and Ashwa-gandhi (Kannada) are confusing synonyms of W. coagulans. In the market no distinction is made between the berries of W. coagulans and W. somnifera.

The berries contain a milk-coagulating enzyme, esterases, free amino acids, fatty oil, an essential oil and alkaloids. The amino acid composition fairly agrees with that of papain. The essential oil was active against Micro-coccus pyogenes var. aureus and Vibro cholerae; also showed anthelmintic activity.

The withanolides, withacoagin, coagulan and withasomidienone have been isolated from the plant, along with other withanolides and withaferin. 3-beta-hydroxy-2,3- dihydrowithanolide E, isolated from the fruit showed significant hepatoprotective activity and anti-inflammatory activity equal to hydrocortisone. The ethanolic extract of the fruit showed antifungal and that of the leaves and stem antibacterial activity.

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