Hindi: Pitpapra, khetpapra
Fumaria indica is found throughout India and is one of the more commonly used herbs in Indian medicine. The plant is sold under the name pitpapra in Ayurvedic bazaars and used in the preparation of various traditional formulae such as parpatadya kawatha and parpatadya arista. It is also used in the Unani system of medicine and incorporated into trifala shahtara.
The plant is distributed throughout India, particularly on the banks of the Ganges and in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 2700 m. It is also distributed in the higher elevations of the Mysore plateau and Nilgiris. It is also found in Europe, Africa and many other Asian countries.
It is an annual, diffuse herb, up to 30 cm high, with grooved branchlets (Plate 29). The leaves are pale green, 2-3 pinnatisect, 5-7 cm long. Flowers are asymmetrical, pale pink or white with purple tips, in terminal or leaf-opposed racemes, with a filiform style and a two-lobed stigma. The calyx consists of two Ian ceo late sepals which are much smaller than the corolla tube. The fruit is a small, indehiscent nutlet, rugose when dry, rounded at the top with two pits and containing one seed.
Traditional and modern use
Fumaria indica is used in aches and pains, diarrhoea, fever, influenza and liver complaints. The herb mixed with honey mar be taken internally to prevent vomiting. A cold infusion of the plant is used to treat wasting diseases of children and to help cooling during fever and in the treatment of constipation and dyspepsia. It is used as a blood purifier for skin diseases and applied externally in leucoderma and as a fomentation for swollen joints. The dried plant is also used as an anthelmintic, diuretic and diaphoretic and, in combination with black pepper, for jaundice.
It is a very common plant in veterinary medicine and is used to overcome constipation and urinary problems in cattle. It is used as a fodder in many parts of India, particularly in Assam. The leaf is used in udder infection of ruminants.
Major chemical constituents
Protopine, cryptopine, dl-bicuculline, aldumine, fumaridine, fumarizine, spiroisoquinoline and d-hydrastine are chief alkaloids of the plant. Other, minor, alkaloids include parfumidine, parfumine, coptisine, tetrahydrocoptisine, fumariline, fumarilicine, narceimine, 8-methoxydihydrosanguinarine, oxysanguinarine, fumariflorine, lastourvilline, N-methyl corydaldine, oxycoptisine, raddeanine, N -methyl-hydrasteine, dehydrocheilanthifoline, narlumidine, papraine and paprazine.
Tannins and fumaric acid and other non-alkaloidal constituents such as nonacosanol and sitosterol, 19-methyloctacosanol and 3-methyloctacosanol have also been isolated from the plant.
Medicinal and pharmacological activities
Hepatoprotedive adivity: A methanolic extract of the plant yielded monomethyl fumarate, which showed significant protection against hepatotoxicity induced by carbon tetrachloride, paracetamol and rifampicin in vivo. In an in vitro screening using thioacetamide-induced hepatotoxicity, the drug exhibited similar activity.
Anticonvulsant adivity: Fumariline, a spirobenzylisoquinoline alkaloid from the herb, showed a significant, dose-dependent anticonvulsant activity when tested using maximal electroshock-induced seizures.
Analgesic and antiinflammatory adivity: Fumariline showed antinociceptive activity in experimental animals, producing a dose-dependent activity measured as an increase in the latent period of the tail flick response (analgesic index). Alkaloids including narceimine, narlumidine and adlumidine exhibited antiinflammatory activity. Protopine nitrate, an alkaloidal salt present in the plant, is a natural central nervous system stimulant.
Antipsychotic adivity: 1- Tetrahydrocoptisine present in Fumaria indica exhibited neuroleptic activity. The antipsychotic activity of the constituent is like that of chlorpromazine in laboratory animals. Antifungal adivity: Protopine, 1-tetrahydrocoptisine, narlumidine and narlumicine from Fumaria indica were assessed against a number of spore-germinating plant pathogenic fungi. Narlumidine and protopine showed the most potent antifungal activity.
Hypotensive activity: An extract of the plant was found to have a relaxant effect and produced a moderate fall in blood pressure in experimental animals. The major alkaloid protopine had a similar potency to that of papaverine.16 In another study protopine exhibited marked relaxation on ileum and intestine of the experimental animals.
Hypoglycaemic adivity: Fumaria indica, administered orally to alloxan-induced diabetic animals, resulted in a significant reduction of the blood sugar levels.
Fumaria indica has been used safely for many years in Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine but no data are available.
Decoction: 28-56 ml Powder: 4-6 g
- Rasa: Tikta (bitter) Guna: Laghu (light)
- Veerya: Shita (cold)
- Vipaka: Katu (pungent)
- Dosha: Pacifies kapha and pitta