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Desmodium gangeticum (L.) DC.


Desmodium maculatum (L.), Meibomia gangeticum (L.) Kuntze, Hedysarum gangeticum L.

Vernacular Names:


Serengan, Engan, Sepantan, Meringan, Lepantan, Akar Katah, Kemani Bali [1].




Salparni, Sarivan


Daun Bulu Ayam, Rumput Goro-goro, Nupan-nupan, Upan-upan, Rendetan, Otok Waliketupa, Gagaretan, Daun Picah, Potong Kujang, Kalkal Otek, Cangsucangan [1].



General Information


This slightly woody perennial herb of 0.3m-1m tall, a member of the family Fabaceae, is found throughout the tropics and West Indies. In Peninsular Malaysia, it grows along the west coasts and in some areas of the east coast. The plant is widespread in the shady places of the lowlands [1].

Plant Part Used

Whole plant, root, leaf [1].

Chemical Constituents

Desmodium gangeticum is known to be rich in flavonoids, alkaloids, and pterocarpanoids.

Flavonoids: Genistein and 2’-hydroxygenistein [10]. Accessed on 4th June 2007 
8-C-Prenyl-5,7,5’-trimethoxy-3’,4’-methylenedioxyflavone [2].  
Flavonoid glycosides: 4’,5,7-Trihydroxy-8-prenylflavone-4’-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-6)-β-D-glucopyranoside [2].
Pterocarpanoids: Gangetin, gangetinin, desmodin, and desmocarpin [2].
Lipids and glycolipids: Aminoglucosyl glycerolipid and cerebroside [2].
Alkaloids: Tryptamines, phenethylamines, tryptamine-N-oxide, phenethylamine- N-oxide [2] N,N-dimethyltrytamine, N,N-dimethyltryptamine-N-oxide, 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine and 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine-N-oxide, indole-3-alkylamine and β-carboline [3].
Caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid [4].
It also contains phospholipids and sterols [2].

Traditional Use:

In India, Desmodium gangeticum (L.) DC. has a considerable reputation as a bitter tonic, febrifuge, digestive, anti-emetic, antipyretic and anti-catarrhal. It is also widely used in ayurveda for the treatment of neurological disorders [5].

The aqueous extract of D. gangeticum plant has strong antiwrithing and moderate CNS depressant activities [2].

In Java, a decoction of the leaves is taken to treat gallstones and renal or bladder calculi. The Malays are believed to have applied the leaves onto the forehead to relieve headache while a decoction of the root is used to treat diarrhoea as well as a sedative for fretful children. The root is also applied on the gums to heal toothaches [1].

Pre-Clinical Data


Anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activity:

In a study, the water decoction of the root and aerial parts of Desmodium gangeticum possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activity. The result supports its claim of traditional use as an analgesic.[16]  

Antioxidant activity:

A total plant extract, the phenolic fraction, and the isolated compounds: caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid were tested for in vitro antioxidant activity in arthritic rats. The results indicate D. gangeticum possesses a strong antioxidant activity, which might be responsible for its antiarthritic activity [4][6]

Anti-inflammatory and  analgesic activities:

A compound, gangetin, isolated from hexane extract of D.gangeticum root showed both significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in albino rats in 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg dosage, respectively [7].

Antioxidant and hypocholestrolemic activity:

Investigations carried out on the effect of the aqueous extract of D.gangeticum root in isoproterenol induced myocardial infarction rats show that it possesses cardio-protective effect through antioxidant activity and hypocholesterolemic action [8].

Antileishmanial activity:

An efficacy study of D. gangeticum extract against experimental visceral leishmaniasis in hamsters suggests that the plant may contain compounds which have antileishmanial as well as immunomodulatory activity [9].

Antiamnesic activity:

A study carried out to assess the anti-amnesic potential of D. gangeticum in mice indicates that the extract not only decreases acetylcholinesterase enzyme levels but also ultimately improves memory of both exteroceptive and interoceptive behavioural models.

With a combination of anticholinesterase, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects showed by D. gangeticum, its potential in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is very promising [3].


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions:

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Avoid using this herb as gangetin exhibits antifertility activity by affecting alkaline phosphatase activity in uterine fluids [3].

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation 


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



Do not use if pregnant as the plant shows abortifacient activity [3].

Case Reports:

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. 2002, Institute for Medical Research.
  2. View Abstract: Mishra, P.K., Singh, N., Ahmad, G., Dube, A & Maurya, R. . Glycolipids and constituents from Desmodium gangeticum with antileishmanial and immunomodulatory activities. . Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 2005; 15: 4543-4546
  3. View Abstract: Joshi, H. Parle, M.. Antiamnesic effects of Desmodium gangeticum in mice. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2006 9 , ; 126:9: 795-804
  4. View Abstract: Govindarajan, R., Vijayakumar,M., Shirwaikar,A., Rawat,A.K.S., Mehrotra,S. & Puspangadan,P.. Antioxidant activity of Desmodium gangeticum and its phenolics in arthritic rats.. Acta Pharma. 2006; 56: 489-496
  5. View Abstract: Rathi, A. Rao, C. h. V. Ravishankar, B. De, S. Mehrotra, S.. Anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activity of the water decoction Desmodium gangeticum. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 12 , ; 95:2-3: 259-63
  6. View Abstract: Govindarajan, R., Rastogi. S., Vijayakumar,M.,Shirwaikar.A., Rawat,A.K.S., Mehrotra,S. & Pushpangadan,P. . Studies on the Antioxidant Activities of Desmodium gangeticum.. Biol. Pharm. Bull.. 2003; 26: 1424-1427
  7. Ghdsh,D. & Anandakumar,A.. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of gangetin. A pterocarpanoid from Desmodium gangeticum. . Ind. J. Pharmac. 1983; 15: 391-402
  8. View Abstract: Kurian,G.A., Philip,S. & Varghese,T. . Effect of aqueous extract of the Desmodium gangeticum DC root in the severity of myocardial infarction. . J. Ethnopharmacology . 2005; 97: 457-461
  9. View Abstract: Singh, N. Mishra, P. K. Kapil, A. Arya, K. R. Maurya, R. Dube, A.. Efficacy of Desmodium gangeticum extract and its fractions against experimental visceral leishmaniasis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 4 , 8; 98:1-2: 83-8

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